From Alaska to the Andes: Native Arts of the Americas before 1300
By: Elizabeth Lara (1st period Art History)
The “New World” was inhabited by people some 30,000 years ago. These peoples came from Asia over the ice bridge, Beringia. Some are also believed to have come over in boats from the Pacific islands. The first settlers were nomadic and spread from the Pacific coast throughout the American continents. About 8000BCE agriculture began opening the way for urbanization and an explosion of the arts. By the times the Americas were “discovered” the natives had developed highly complex civilizations. The early Americans had well-developed civil engineering, agricultural techniques were perfected, and “mastered the arts of weaving, pottery, and metalwork.” They created huge stone reliefs and created titanic pyramids to their gods. The Maya developed writing systems and knowledge of mathematical calculation that allowed them to keep precise records and created the most accurate calendar created. However, with the coming of the Spanish, religious zeal and greed led to the obliteration of the huge empires of America, one by one. Despite the wear of time, many pre-Columbian city ruins have been used by art historians and archaeologists to reconstruct the ancient works of art and through them, resurrect an accurate legacy of the American empires. The peoples of Central and South America held limited trade with those of North America, which accounts for many stylistic differences in the art of each people.
14-1 Colossal head, Olmec, La Venta Mexico, 900-400BCE. Basalt, 9’4” high. Museo-Parque La Venta, Villahermosa.
14-2 Ceremonial ax in the form of a jaguar-human, Olmec, from La Venta, Mexico, 900-400BCE. Jadeite, 11 ½ “ high. British Museum, London.
14-3 Drinker (seated figure with raised arms), from Colima, Mexico, ca. 200BCE – 500CE. Clay with orange and red slip, 1’1” high. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (The Proctor-Stafford Collection, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Allen C. Balch).
14-4 Aerial View of Teotihucan (from the north), Valley of Mexico, Mexico, Pyramid of the Moon (foreground), Pyramid of the Sun (top left), and the Citadel (background), all connected by the Avenue of the Dead; main structures ca. 50-200CE; site ca. 100BCE-750CE.
14-5 Detail of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Citadel, Teotihuacan, Valley of Mexico, Mexico, third century CE.
14-6 Goddess, mural painting from Tetitla apartment complex at Teotihuacan, Valley of Mexico, Mexico, 650-750CE. Pigments over clay and plaster.
14-7 Stele D portraying the ruler 18-Rabbit, Maya, Great Plaza at Copan, Honduras, 736 CE. Stone, 11’9” high.
14-8 Ball court (view looking north), Middle Plaza, Copan, Maya, Copan Valley, Honduras, 738 CE.
14-9 Temple I (Temple of the Giant Jaguar), Maya, Tikal, Peten, Guatemala, ca. 732 CE.
14-10 Ball player, Maya, from Jaina Island, Mexico, 700-900CE. Painted clay, 6 ½ “ High. National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.
14-11 Presentation of captives to Lord Chan Muwan, Maya, Room 2, Structure 1, Bonampak, Mexico, ca. 790CE. Mural, approx. 17’ X 15’; watercolor copy by Antonio Tejada. Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge.
14-12 Shield Jaguar and Lady Xoc, Maya, Lintel 24, Temple 23, Yaxchilan, Mexico, ca. 725 CE. Limestone, 3’7” X 2’6 ½ “. British Museum, London.
14-13 Enthroned Maya lord and courtiers, cylinder vase (rollout view), Maya, from Motul de San Jose region, Guatemala, 672 – 830CE. Ceramic with red, rose orange, white and black on cream slip. Approx 8” high. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Washington, D.C.
14-14 The Caracol (foreground) and the Castillo (background), Maya, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. ca. 800-900Ce.
14-15 Colossal atlantids, Pyramid B, Toltec, Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico, ca. 900-1180CE. Stone, each approx. 16’ high.
14-16 Pendant in the form of a bat-faced man, Tairona, from northeastern Colombia, after 1000 CE. Gold 5 ¼ “ high. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection).
14-17 Reconstruted drawings of sacred center showing temple and associated sunken courtyards, Chavin de Huantar, Peru, first millennium BCE.
14-18 Raimondi Stele, from main temple, Chavin de Huantar, Peru, first millennium BCE. Incised green diorite, 6’ high. Instituto Nacionalde Cultura, Lima.
14-19 Embroidered funerary mantle, Paracas, from southern coast of Peru, first century CE. Plain weave camelid fiber 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. )
14-20 Bridge spouted vessel with flying figures, Nasca, from Nasca River valley, Peru, ca. 50-200CE. Painted ceramic, approx. 5 ½ “ high. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.
14-21 Hummingbird, Nasca Plain, Nasca, Peru, ca. 500CE. Dark layer of pebbles scraped aside to reveal lighter clay and calcite beneath.
14-22 Vessel in the shape of a portrait head, Moche, from north coast Peru, fifth to sixth century CE. Painted clay, 12 ½ “ high. Museu Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera, Lima.
14-23 Ear ornament, from a tomb at Sipan, Moche, Peru, ca. 300CE. Gold and turquoise, approx. 4 4/5”. Bruning Archaelogical Museum, Lambayeque.
14-24 Gateway of the Sun, Tiwanku, Bolivia, ca. 375-700CE. Stone 9’10” high.
14-25 Lima Tapestry (tunic), Wari, from Peru, ca. 500-800CE. 3’3 3/8 “ X 2’ 11 3/8”. National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History, Lima, Peru.
14-26 Burial Mask, Ipiutak, from Point Hope, Alaska, ca. 100CE. Ivory, greatest width 9 ½ “. American Museum of Natural History ,New York
14-27 Pipe, Adena, from a mound in Ohio, ca. 500-1BCE. Stone, 8” high. Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.
14-28 Serpent Mound, Mississippian, Ohio, ca. 1070CE. 1200’ long, 20’ wide, 5’ high.
14-29 Incised shell gorget, Mississippian, from Sumner County, Tennessee, ca. 1250-1300CE. 4” wide. Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.
14-30 Bowl with two cranes and geometric forms, Mimbres, From New Mexico, ca. 1250 CE. Ceramic, black-on-white, diameter approx. 1’ ½’’. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (Hugh L. and Mary T. Adams Fund).
14-31 Cliff Palace, Anasazi, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, ca. 1150-1300CE.