The early peoples of the northern Andes left behind beautiful gold artwork. They made ornaments, jewellery, tools, musical instruments and containers. Many of these ancient artists used a gold-copper alloy called tumbago. Early artists hammered gold flat and then pressed it to make objects in relief. A more complex process was lost-wax casting. A goldsmith modelled an object in wax and then covered it in clay. A hole in the clay was made and the wax melted out. The cast was then filled with gold to make an identical object.
Modern-day Colombian peoples also produce excellent artwork. The women of the Guajiro people hand weave cloth into beautiful hammocks, bags, colourful belts and sashes. These often use ancient motifs and patterns. The Paez peoples of Pasto make ruanas (thick woolen shawls) in fancy patterns and in the traditional red and blue.

There have been many notable Colombian artists in the 20th century. Contemporary painting in Colombia has been greatly influenced by Alejandro Obregón and Fernando Botero. Obregón is described as the father of modern Colombian painting. His art shows the landscape of Colombia, including animals and birds. Other important artists include Enrique Grau, David Manzur, Alberto Gutiérrez and the sculptor Edgar Negret.

Spanish and African traditions are represented in Colombia's musical heritage. The dancing and rhythms of the Black communities on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts are similar to those of the Caribbean islands and Central America. In the highlands and valleys, music often includes traditional quena (flute) music and Spanish guitar. Many Colombians also enjoy classical music. In Bogotá  there is a National Symphony Orchestra and a Philharmonic Orchestra. On Easter Sunday orchestras from all parts of Colombia participate in the National Festival of Religious Music in Popayán.
Did you know?

The marimba is a distinctive Colombian musical instrument like a form of xylophone with keys made of wood. Other Colombian musical instruments include the arba (harp), the guasá (a rattle containing seeds) and the twelve-string guitar known as a tiple.

Jorge Isaacs' novel La Marîa represents the Colombian literary period known as Spanish-American romanticism. Colombian poets include José Asunción Silva and Guillermo León Valencia. Their poetry is known as modernismo.

Gabriel García Marquez, a prolific writer, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. His most famous novel, Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), tells the story of a poor Colombian family living through a century of extraordinary events in the Caribbean lowlands. It mixes myths, dreams and reality.