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6Figure 14-1 Colossal head,Olmec, La Venta, Mexico,900–400 BCE. Basalt, 9’4”high. Museo-Parque LaVenta, Villahermosa.This is one out offour basalt heads.Each weighs about10 tons and standsabout 6 to 10 feethigh. The identitiesare uncertain, butthe features andheadgear suggestthat it is a rulerand not a deity.The size of theheads andexpression evokegreat power.
7Figure 14-2 Ceremonial ax in the form of a jaguar-human, Olmec, from La Venta, Mexico, 900–400 BCE.Jade, 11 1/2” high. British Museum, London.Carved in jade because jadewas prized by theMesoamerican people. Manytimes the jade was carved intoax-shaped polished calledcelts which was buried asvotive offerings. Subjects thatwere included were cryingbabies and figures combininghuman and animal featuresand postures. The human-animal representations referthat religious practitionersunderwent dangeroustransformation for the good ofthe community.
8Figure 14-3 Seated figure withraised arms, from Colima,Mexico, ca. 200 BCE–250 CE.Clay with orange and red slip, 1’1” high. Los Angeles CountyMuseum of Art, Los Angeles.West Mexico is bestknown for its traditionof clay sculptures. Thesculptures are in tombsconsisting of shafts asdeep as 50 feet. Thesesculptures giveglimpses of what dailylife may have been.Scholars are unsure ifthis figure is a religiouspractitioner with ahorn on his forehead ora political leaderwearing a shellornament, or a persondoing both roles.
9Figure 14-4 Aerial view of Teotihuacán (from the north), Valley of Mexico, Mexico. Pyramid of the Moon (foreground), Pyramid of theSun (top left), and the Citadel (background), all connected by the Avenue of the Dead; main structures ca. 50–200 CE; site ca. 100BCE–750 CE. A large, densely populated metropolis built for Mesoamerica. The major monuments were constructed between 50 and 250 CE. It covers 9 square miles and is laid out in a grid pattern. The Aztecs gave the name to Teotihuacán which means “the place of the gods”. Some of the hieroglyphics still remained undeciphered and the language spoken remains unknown. The main north-south axis is called the Avenue of the Dead and connects with Pyramid of the Moon complex with the Citadel and its Temple of Quetzalcoatl. The imposing mass and scale of the monumental structures surpass all other Mesoamerican sites. The Pyramid of the Sun may have been constructed to honor a sacred spring within the now-dry cave. The Pyramid of the Moon was rebuilt at least five times in their early history.
10Figure 14-5 Detail of Templeof Quetzalcóatl, the Citadel,Teotihuacán, Valley of Mexico,Mexico, third century CE.At the South end of thecitadel, it encloses asmall pyramidal shrine toQuetzalcoatl, “featheredserpent”. Underneath atomb was found whichwas looted withantiquity, possibly thetomb of a ruler.Surrounding everythingare remnants ofsacrificial victims. This isthe first unambiguousrepresentation of thefeathered serpent inMesoamerica. Theremust have been contactwith the Mexican coastsfor the representation ofwater.
11Figure 14-8 Ballcourt (view looking north), Middle Plaza, Copán, Maya, Copán Valley, Honduras, 738 CE. The Mesoamerican Ball Game began at least 3,400 years ago and the Olmec were avid players. An I- or T-shaped in plan, flanked by two parallel sloping or straight walls, sometimes wide enough to support small structures on top. Most ball courts were adjacent to the important civic structures of Mesoamerican cities. It was also a competitive spectator sport, not only for entertainment. The ball game and aftermath were a metaphor for the cycle of life, death, and regeneration.
12Figure 14-9 Temple I (Temple of theGiant Jaguar), Maya, Tikal, Petén,Guatemala, ca. 732 CE.The larger pyramid,Temple I (Temple of theGiant Jaguar), is one ofthe two monuments in theGreat Plaza of Tikal. It isabout 150 feet tall and itis a temple-mausoleum ofa great Tikal ruler, HasawChan K’awil. It is made upof nine sharply incliningplatforms, a reference tothe nine levels of theUnderworld. The templehas a sculpted roof comb,a vertical architecturalprojection that once borethe ruler’s giant portraitmodeled in stucco.
13Figure 14-10 Ballplayer, Maya, from JainaIsland, Mexico, 700–900 CE. Painted clay, 6 1/4”high. National Museum of Anthropology, MexicoCity.Ball players can either bewomen weaving, older men,dwarves, supernaturalbeings, amorous couples,and attired rulers andwarriors. Hollow figureswere also used as whistles.The Maya used “Maya blue”because it has been provento be basicallyindestructible. The figureswere made to accompanythe dead on their journey tothe Underworld.
14Figure 14-11 Presentation of captivesto Lord Chan Muwan, Maya, Room 2,Structure 1, Bonampak, Mexico, ca.790 CE. Mural, approx. 17’ X 15’;watercolor copy by Antonio Tejeda.Peabody Museum, Harvard University,Cambridge.This is an image, from theBonampak painters, ofwarriors surroundingcaptives on a terracedplatform. The figures arenaturalistic, overlap,twist, and turn. Thetechnique to paint thewalls is a cross betweenfresco and tempera. Thereis extreme detail thatrecord events. This scenedepicts the presentation ofprisoners to Lord ChanMuwan. There are threemain zones, an upper,middle, and lower.
15Figure 14-12 Shield Jaguar and Lady Xoc, Maya,Lintel 24, Temple 23, Yaxchilán, Mexico, ca. 725CE. Limestone, 3’ 7” X 2’ 6 1/2”. British Museum,London.This depicts the ruler ItzamnaBalam II and his principle wifeLady Xoc. Lady Xoc isoutfitted in elaborategarments, headdress, andjewels. She is piercing hertongue in the celebration ofthe birth of a son to one ofthe ruler’s other wives. Also,during these ceremonies theywere intended to producehallucinations. Shield Jaguarprovides illumination with ablazing torch.
16Figure 14-13 Enthroned Maya lord and courtiers, cylinder vase (rollout view), Maya, from Motul de San José region,Guatemala, 672–830 CE. Ceramic with red, rose, orange, white, and black on cream slip, approx. 8” high. Dumbarton OaksResearch Library and Collections, Washington, D.C.This is a rollout view of a typical vase design showing a scene where an enthroned lord sitssurrounded by by courtiers and attendants. Gestures and talk are incorporated in thescene. The red frame suggests an architectural setting to provide a glimpse of the eventthrough the open doorways of the palace. The hieroglyphics describe the vessel and namesof the artists, which were all male. These vases may have been used for drinking and forfood for noble Mayan, but ultimately went to the tomb to travel with the dead to theUnderworld. They were most likely commissioned by the deceased before he died or bysurvivors that sent it as a funerary offering.
17Figure 14-14 The Caracol (foreground) and the Castillo (background), Maya, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, Mexico, ca. 800–900 CE.A cylindrical tower that rests on a broad terrace. The building recalls the cross-section of aconch shell which was an attributed of the feathered serpent. The windows were probablyused for astronomical observation which gives this building its second name the Observatory.
19Figure 14-18 Raimondi Stele, Chavín, from main temple, Chavín de Huántar,Peru, first millennium BCE. Incised green diorite, 6’ high. Instituto Nacional deCultura, Lima, Peru. The stele represents a figure called the “staff god.” His headdress is the upper two-thirds of the slab which means there is very elaborate design of the headdress and all the jewels. When upside down, the god’s face turns into two faces which is a core aspect of Andean Religion. This Chavin iconography spread throughout the Andean region in forms of gold work, textiles, and ceramics. Many of the ceramic vessels that were found on the north coast of Peru had similar motifs to those found on Chavin stone carvings.
20Figure 14-19 Embroidered funerary mantle, Paracas, from southern coast of Peru, first century CE. Plain weave camelidfiber with stem-stitch embroidery embroidered with camelid wool, 4’ 7 7/8” X 7’ 10 7/8”. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston(William A. Paine Fund). This textile was used to wrap the bodies of the dead in multiple layers and the dry climate preserved these textiles. The figure on this textile has prominent eyes, flowing hair, and has an airy, hovering movement. The floating beings are either holding batons and fans or knives and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Although the figure is repeated throughout each textile, there is noticeable variation such as position.
21Figure 14-21 Hummingbird, Nasca Plain, Nasca, Peru, ca. 500 CE. Dark layer of pebbles scraped aside to reveal lighterclay and calcite beneath; 27’ wide, 200’ wingspan, and 459’ length. A hummingbird, several hundred feet long, on the Nasca Plain is just one of the three dozen images of birds, fish, and plants. The Nasca Lines were produced when the artists selectively removed the dark top layer of stone to expose the clay and calcite underneath. There are many different theories of why these lines were created such as marking pilgrimage routes or as a traversable map. These lines also seemed to be associated with water supply and irrigation.
22Figure 14-22 Vessel in the shape of a portrait head,Moche, from north coast Peru, fifth to sixth century CE.Painted clay, 12 1/2” high. Museu Arqueológico RafaelLarco Herrera, Lima. The painted clay vessel of the Moche illustrate architecture, metallurgy, weaving, the brewing of chicha, human deformities and diseases, and sexual acts. Usually flat- bottomed stirrup-spouted jars, decorated with a bichrome slip. This is a portrait vessel portraying possibly a warrior, ruler, or a royal retainer whose image was buried to accompany his dead master. The vessel portrait is very realistic of the physiognomy.
23Figure 14-23 Ear ornament,from a tomb at Sipán,Moche, Peru, ca. 300 CE.Gold and turquoise, approx.4 4/5”. BruningArcheological Museum,Lambayeque.Found in a Sipán tomb,this ear ornamentshows a warrior priestclad like the Lord ofSipán. Surrounding himare what appear to betwo retainers. Veryfrontal, he carries awar club, a shield, andwears a necklace ofowl-head beads. Thehelmet is a replica tothe one buried withthe Sipán lord and thewar club and shieldmatch the finds in theWarrior Priest’s tomb.
24Tiwanaku was animportant ceremonialcenter and there weregrand buildings createdby using sandstone,andesite, and diorite. Thegate has a relief sculptureon the top. The centralfigure is a version of theChavin staff goddominating all the otherfigures. With raysprojecting from his head,he is possibly a sky andweather deity rather thana sun deity. Sky and earthbeings converge on thegate which was used asthe doorway to a sacredarea. The reliefs were atone time painted, thefigures eyes were inlaidwith turquoise, and thesurface was covered withgold.Figure 14-24 Gateway of the Sun, Tiwanaku, Bolivia, ca. 375–700 CE. Stone, 9’ 10” high.
25Figure 14-25 Lima Tapestry (tunic),Wari, from Peru, ca. 500–800 CE. 3’3 3/8” x 2’ 11 3/8”. NationalMuseum of Archeology,Anthropology, and History of Peru,Lima.Wari designs were wovendirectly into the fabric,creating a technique knownas tapestry. The weftthreads were packeddensely over warp threadswith more than 200 weftthreads per inch. Thefigures here areunrecognizable because ofbeing so closely connectedand abstract. In this tunic,each figures in compressedor expanded in a differentway ad are placed invertical rows. Tunics suchas these were probablyused as prestige garmentsfor the elite.
26Figure 14-27 Pipe, Adena, from a mound in Ohio, ca. 500–1 BCE.Stone, 8” high. Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.From the Adena culture of Ohio, apipe is created in the shape of a man.The pipe is related in form and dressas to some of the Mesoamericansculptures. Usually the Adena wouldbury their elite in earthen moundsand would most likely place a pipelike this one in the graves. Smokingwas an important social and religiousritual and the pipes were treasuredstatus symbols. The naturalisticfeatures and an alert facialexpression combine to suggestmovement in the figure.
27Figure 14-28 Serpent Mound, Mississippian, Ohio, ca. 1070 CE. 1200’ long, 20’ wide, 5’ high. The Mississippian Adenas constructed effigy mounds in the shapes of animals or birds. Measuring nearly a quarter mile, this Serpent Mound causes much controversy. Serpent Mound contained no evidence of any burial or temple sites, yet serpents were important in Mississippian iconography. Snakes were associated with the earth and fertility of crops, yet another meaning for Serpent Mound was proposed recently. It is believed that it may have been constructed to record the occurrence of Hailey’s Comet in 1066.
28Figure 14-29 Incised shell gorget,Mississippian, from Sumner County,Tennessee, ca. 1250–1300 CE. 4”wide. Museum of the AmericanIndian, New York.The shell gorget, aneck pendant, was apopular item inMississippian cultureand this one depictsa running warrior.Wearing an elaborateheaddress, he carriesa mace and a severedhuman head in thishands. These gorgetswere mostly found inburial and templemounds and weregifts to the dead.
29Figure 14-30 Bowl with twocranes and geometric forms,Mimbres, from New Mexico, ca.1250 CE. Ceramic, black-on-white,diameter approx. 1’ 1/2”. ArtInstitute of Chicago, Chicago(Hugh L. and Mary T. AdamsFund). The Mimbres were known for their black-on-white ceramic painted bowls. The abstract border design and the birds create a dynamic tension. The designs emphasize linear rhythms within a clearly defined border. The artists used the coiling method since the potter’s wheel had not been introduced yet. There are some beliefs that the potters may have been women. Usually these bowls were used by piercing a hole in the bottom to let the spirits of the deceased join their ancestors in the sky.
30Figure 14-31 Cliff Palace, Anasazi, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, ca. 1150–1300 CE.Wedged into a sheltered ledge above the valley floor, the Anasazi moved up here during a drought. With almost 200rectangular rooms, the community was made of mostly carefully laid stone and timber. The Anasazi chose this place totake advantage of the sun heat in the winter and the shade during the summer. The two dozen large circular semisubterranean structures, kivas, were chambers that were the spiritual centers of Native Southwest life, male councilhouses, and where private rituals and preparation for public ceremonies take place.