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Article

Bahía  

Jorge G. Marcos

Pre-Columbian regional culture of coastal Ecuador that flourished c. 500 bcc. ad 500. Archaeological field research by Emilio Estrada and Matthew and Marion Stirling at Manta, Manabí, identified a platform-mounded Bahía urban and ceremonial centre. Since no extensive excavation of the area was conducted, the only evidence for Bahía houses is a number of terracotta models, similar in form to examples from China; some archaeologists, such as Meggers, consider them as evidence of transpacific influence. Excavation of a few test pits produced a relative ceramic sequence and some radiocarbon assays. In the Guayas Basin, to the south, Bahía-like Tejar and Guayaquil phases have been described by Meggers and Parducci. Bahía pottery appears to have evolved from the earlier Chorrera style developed by intensive farming communities in the rich alluvial valleys of central Manabí and the Guayas Basin. Bahía potters practised a highly developed craft, having mastered not only traditional coiled construction but also slip-casting, a technique introduced during the Chorrera period. They were proficient in controlled smudging and resist decoration, and excelled in the use of polychrome slips, employing a wide spectrum of mineral and organic pigments. Another characteristic was decoration encrusted after firing in brilliant yellows, reds, greens and blues. Flutes, ocarinas and flamboyantly decorated whistling bottles with spouts and strap handles imitated human and animal forms. At ...

Article

Chancay  

Jane Feltham

Pre-Columbian culture of South America. It centered on the Chancay Valley of the central Peruvian coast, ranging north and south to the Fortaleza and Lurín valleys, and is known for its distinctive pottery and textile styles. Chancay culture flourished between c. 1100 and 1470 ce, under Chimu rulership in the 15th century. Vessels and textiles have been found at such sites as Cerro Trinidad, Lauri, and Pisquillo, mostly in graves covered with stout timbers and a layer of earth.

Chancay vessels were made by coiling; modeled features sometimes occur, but elaborate jars were molded. The fabric, fired to a light orange, is thin and porous. Some vessels are covered with a plain white slip, but most are also painted with brownish-black designs. Forms include bowls, goblets, tumblers, cylindrical jars, and ovoid jars with rounded bases and narrow, bulging necks that sometimes end in a flaring rim. Vessel heights range from 60 mm for bowls to 750 mm for jars. Animals (especially birds and reptiles) and humans are frequently modeled on the upper shoulder or around a handle. More elaborate jars are zoomorphic or consist of two flasks connected by a bridge. Some show scenes, such as a dignitary being carried on a litter. Vertical black bands often divide design areas, within which are patterns of stripes, wavy lines, crosshatching, diamonds, triangles and dots, checkers, volutes, and stylized birds or fishes, sometimes in asymmetrical halves. Characteristic of the style are large, necked jars with faces (known as ...

Article

Peter W. Stahl

Pre-Columbian culture, named after the site of La Chorrera on the River Babahoyo, in the Guayas Basin, Ecuador. It flourished between c. 1000 and c. 500 bc, during Ecuador’s Late Formative period (c. 1500 bcc. 500 bc). The terms ‘Chorrera’ and ‘Chorreroid series’ encompass a number of diverse but related cultures of the Guayas coast, ranging northwards from the province of El Oro to the northern area of the province of Manabí and reaching inland to the banks of the Daule and Babahoyo rivers.

The Chorrera style shows particular affinity to the earliest stages of the art of the Engoroy phase (c. 900–c. 500 bc). La Chorrera itself was discovered by F. Huerta Rendón, and later work was carried out by Emilio Estrada, Clifford Evans, and Betty Meggers.

The culture represents the apogee of the early art styles of Ecuador, having a wide geographical distribution and serving as a basic foundation for subsequent developments. During the Late Formative period, the use of metal was introduced, along with the manufacture of earrings and new types of figurines, figure modelling, red and white zoned ceramics, and negative-painted wares. The ...

Article

Kimberly L. Jones

Pre-Columbian culture and art style of South America. The term “Cupisnique” was coined by Rafael Larco Hoyle to define early Andean visual arts and material culture on the north coast of Peru. During the 1930s and 1940s Larco, a hacienda owner, excavated funerary contexts in the Cupisnique quebrada, or dry ravine, north of the Chicama Valley. The burials included similar artifacts and arts, which Larco compared with cultures to the south. Certain burials stratigraphically predated Salinar and Moche tombs, situating Cupisnique early in Andean prehistory. Cupisnique burials consist of a single individual placed in a shaft pit; funerary offerings include ceramic vessels, bone rings, pendants, and anthracite mirrors, and many individuals were buried with bone spatulas and spoons. In addition to Larco’s research, similar burials have been excavated at Huaca Prieta in the Chicama Valley, Puémape in the Jequetepeque Valley, and Ventarrón and Collúd-Zarpán in the Lambayeque valley. The contexts span temporally from the Early to Late Formative Periods (...

Article

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture and art style that flourished in northern coastal Peru during the Early Intermediate Period, between c. 300 bce and c. 200 ce. It was named after the site of Gallinazo (Sp. “turkey buzzard”) in the Virú valley, which was excavated by the American archaeologist Wendell Bennett in 1936. The Gallinazo culture has been shown to have succeeded that of Salinar in the Virú, Moche, and Chicama valleys. Gallinazo architecture in the Virú valley was characterized by a honeycomb dwelling pattern. Some of the walls of the buildings were decorated with cut-out designs in tapia (puddled clay) and adobe mosaics, such as the frieze at El Carmelo. The Gallinazo culture as represented in the Virú valley was subdivided by Bennett into three phases, on the basis of changes in building methods and pottery styles. Gallinazo I is characterized by incised and punch-decorated pottery with some use of negative-painted decoration, which involved covering the design areas in a heat-resistant substance and then firing it. The substance was removed after firing, leaving the negative design. In Gallinazo II most pottery was decorated using negative painting. Small lugs, mainly in bird and animal form, were often added. A basic change took place during Gallinazo III, due to outside influences from the ...

Article

Jorge G. Marcos

Pre-Columbian culture of coastal Ecuador, which flourished c. 500 bcc. ad 500. Archaeological research initiated by Geoffrey Bushnell in 1951 has shown that the Guangala people occupied the forest of the Santa Elena Peninsula from the Chongón-Colonche Cordillera to the sea, extending north through the narrow coastal strip of southern Manabí Province. Like their predecessors, who made Engoroy style pottery, the Guangala people were experts at farming dry land, mostly using condensed fog for irrigation, as well as being accomplished sailors. Ceramic wares similar to those of Engoroy and Guangala have been found in Guatemala, suggesting that a long-distance trade network between Ecuador and Mesoamerica already existed at this period. Studies of settlement patterns in the Chanduy Valley show that Guangala people established permanent hamlets in diverse micro-environments, as well as larger sites, which served as centres of economic, religious, and political power, and regional and long-distance trade. Guangala houses were built on a rectangular plan and had wooden frames and wattle-and-daub construction, with ornate baked clay eaves, window, and door frames....

Article

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture of South America that extended throughout several valleys on the south coast of Peru and flourished between c. 1000 and 1476 ce. The Ica–Chincha pottery style was first recognized by the German archaeologist Max Uhle, and regional variations have since been defined by archaeologists from the University of California at Berkeley, especially by Dorothy Menzel. The Ica Valley appears to have been the main cultural center, while the Chincha Valley seems to have had greater political significance. Commerce was important; pottery was clearly held in high esteem, since it has been found at sites on the central coast and inland in the Río Pampas area near Ayacucho, and it seems, moreover, to have formed the principal indicator of cultural cohesion and diversity between the valleys. The main feature of the decorated wares is a polychrome style, usually with a red base overpainted with white and black designs. Motifs are frequently geometric, with many designs taken from textiles, including diamonds, stepped lines, and zigzag lines. There are also many depictions of birds and fish that are difficult to see in the maze of angular designs. A characteristic vessel shape is a jar with a rounded base, globular body, narrow neck, and flaring rim. Dishes with a flanged rim are also common. As on ...

Article

Karen Stothert

Pre-Columbian ceramic style named after a port on the central coast of Ecuador. This culture defines the Middle Formative period (1430–830 BCE) in the archaeological sequence of Ecuador’s Pacific lowlands, and it apparently developed out of the preceding Late Valdivia tradition. Machalilla ceramics include carinated and incised bowls with thin walls, single-spout and stirrup-spout bottles that feature red painting on shiny buff surfaces and three-color painting, as well as the earliest iridescent paint, decorated ceramic seals, and hollow anthropomorphic figurines and bottles. These innovative ceramics are understood as precursors of elite Chorrera ceramics of the Late Formative period.

Growing Machalillan populations settled in riverine environments and developed new socio-political organization in a period characterized by robust interaction among the communities of the coast and highlands of Ecuador, the Eastern Andean slopes, and northern Peru. People practiced a way of life based on farming maize and other domesticated plants, marine fishing, and hunting. Spectacular Machalilla artifacts looted from sites on Ecuador’s north coast are found in museums and private collections. This paraphernalia is indicative of elites who presided over ceremonies in special precincts, but earthen architecture is known primarily from sites around the Gulf of Guayaquil. Archaeological settlements in the vast and productive Guayas River Basin are little known because they are deeply buried under silt....

Article

H. B. Nicholson

Stylistic and iconographic tradition in Mesoamerica during the Postclassic period (c. 900–1521).

The term was coined in 1938 by the American archaeologist George Vaillant for what he variously defined as a “culture,” “civilization,” or “culture complex” that developed after the Teotihuacan collapse in the region of the modern Mexican state of Puebla and the western portion of Oaxaca, an area known as the Mixteca (from the predominant indigenous language of the region). He hypothesized that Mixteca–Puebla diffused into the Basin of Mexico during what he termed the “Chichimec” period, providing “the source and inspiration of Aztec civilization.” He believed that aspects of the complex spread widely throughout Mesoamerica during its final major era, the Postclassic, which he suggested should be labeled the “Mixteca–Puebla period.”

Although Vaillant never defined his concept with precision, he clearly had in mind a distinctive artistic style and its concomitant iconography, particularly exemplified by the members of the “Codex Borgia group” of ritual and divinatory screenfolds (...

Article

Paracas  

Helaine Silverman

Name given to a Pre-Columbian culture of the Central Andean area. The culture is named after the Paracas peninsula in Peru, 300 km south of Lima, the location of an important Pre-Columbian site discovered by Julio C. Tello and S. K. Lothrop in 1925 (see also South America, Pre-Columbian). By 1927 three distinct cemetery areas on the peninsula, known as Cabeza Larga, Cavernas and Necropolis, had been located and excavated. Each contained mummy bundles or ‘fardels’ wrapped in exceptionally fine multicoloured embroidered cloths (see fig.). The Necropolis area contained more than 400 conical bundles. Some were noticeably richer than others and were composed of up to several hundred textiles, arranged in layers of plain cloths and decorated mantles, shirts, loin cloths, ponchos, skirts, turbans and belts. Together, the three Paracas peninsula burial areas yielded thousands of iconographically complex, technically excellent textiles, now in museums throughout the world. The Paracas textiles varied in style over the time during which the burial grounds were used. The earliest (...

Article

Eloise Quiñones Keber

Ceramics appeared in Mesoamerica as a major craft from the time of the earliest settlements (c. 2300 BCE) and rapidly developed into a succession of distinctive regional styles. For those Pre-Columbian peoples who did not produce architecture or lithic sculpture, and whose perishable artifacts have not survived, ceramics provide virtually the only material record. Ceramics found in tombs, ceremonial caches, and household debris have helped archaeologists to reconstruct Mesoamerican chronology, daily life, artistic conventions, belief systems, ritual practices, social stratification, and trade patterns. Many of the aspects of Pre-Columbian ceramic manufacturing techniques have survived in present-day indigenous folk traditions.

See also Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

Clay was a primary material for fashioning both utilitarian and ceremonial artifacts, ranging from common household items to large-scale figural sculptures and masterfully carved and painted vessels. Clay objects, some of them finely decorated, had numerous uses, from everyday cooking, eating, and drinking vessels to storage containers and utensils such as ...

Article

The earliest imitations of Aztec pottery were commissioned in the mid-16th century by Spanish administrators to satisfy increasing demand for such curiosities in their homeland. They are a mixture of native symbols and European designs in grotesque forms, such as jars with whistles around the rim, or clarinet-like flutes in the shape of a crocodile. With the opening of its borders after Independence, Mexico became a popular destination for European and North American travelers, including Alexander von Humboldt, John Stephens, and Frederick Catherwood, whose published accounts of their exploits encouraged others to explore the Middle American nations and collect artifacts for their curio cabinets, thereby creating a burgeoning market for forgeries. By the late 1820s forgery workshops on Tlatelolco Street in Mexico City were creating black wares that were sold, as authentic, to the tourists at Teotihuacan. These workshops remained in production at least to the 1890s. In the early 20th century, Batres found the Barrios Brothers operating a successful forgery workshop at San Juan Teotihuacan near the archaeological site. Today, similarly crude and fanciful wares continue to be hawked at Teotihuacan and at tourist shops around Mexico City....

Article

Patrick Hajovsky

Realistic portraiture was never a dominant concern of Pre-Columbian artists or patrons, who more often sought to convey essential qualities and metaphysical states of being rather than physical appearances. In Mesoamerica as early as 1200 BCE, the Olmec pushed portraiture to notable heights with colossal stone heads, the greatest accumulation occurring at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan. Yet, overall, Olmec sculptures exhibit a range of representational strategies from realism to abstraction. Among the Maya, portraiture makes its starkest emergence in the 7th century at Palenque under Pakal the Great (see fig.). By and large, however, Maya stelae, relief panels, and jade masks do not favor physiognomic realism over idealism, especially surrounding ideas of divine kingship. In exchange, the actual physical appearance of kings was manipulated to fit ideals that are paralleled in sculpture, such as in the case of the stucco portrait of Pakal, who dons a false nose and an upward hairstyle to resemble a maize cob. In narrative relief sculptures depicting Maya men and women, physiognomic features may also have been associated with blood lineage, thus making their rendition important for establishing rule through phenotype....

Article

Recuay  

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture and art style of northern Peru, named after the modern town of Recuay in the upper Santa Valley of the north Peruvian highlands. The culture flourished c. 200 bcec. 500 ce in the upper valley of the Santa River, with its influence extending to the lower part. Recuay art is represented mainly by pottery and stone-carving. In his study of Recuay art at Pashash (1978), Grieder found that considerable unity within the style made it difficult to identify the work of individual artists. The pottery, generally made of a white paste, is highly distinctive. The main shapes are bowls (some with a ring base), dippers, spoons, jars of various forms, bottles with modeled heads joined by a bridge handle to a spout, stirrup-spout bottles, and vessels in the form of modeled figures. Such figures are often on the upper part of the vessels and can represent single animals or human beings, or group of figures in scenes. The animals and birds most frequently shown are the jaguar, armadillo, condor, heron, and owl. Human trophy heads also appear on vessels, singly or with a warrior. Some vessels are in the form of houses, while others resemble pyramids. Designs on the pottery were painted in two or three colors—black, white, and red—using both positive and negative techniques. Three-color negative designs were probably produced by applying a red pigment to areas that had already been treated by smoking. The principal diagnostic motifs are a two-headed serpent and a feline shape or “dragon” with bared teeth. Stone ...

Article

Salinar  

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture and art style that flourished in northern Peru c. 500–c. 300 bce, during the Early Horizon and the beginning of the Early Intermediate Period. Salinar culture was more localized than the contemporary Chavin culture; Salinar artifacts, especially pottery, were first discovered in 1941 at a cemetery in the upper Chicama Valley by the Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle. The tombs were outside the modern cultivated area, stratified below Moche burials and intrusive on some Cupisnique interments. This chronological evidence, together with iconographic evidence, placed Salinar after the Cupisnique style of the Early Horizon and before the Moche culture of the Early Intermediate Period. Fieldwork by the Virú Valley Project in the 1940s showed a definite Salinar occupation of the Virú Valley. Between 1969 and 1974 Salinar burials and occupation sites were also found in the Moche Valley by the Chan Chan–Moche Valley Project directed by Christopher Donnan. In Salinar decorative art there is no evidence of the feline themes dominant in Cupisnique art; however, five bone spatulas with incised designs similar to those carved on Cupisnique examples were found by Larco (Lima, Mus. Arqueol. Larco Herrara), but neither were they well-made nor was the motif a particularly close imitation of Cupisnique design. Salinar ...

Article

Fernanda de Araujo Costa

Pre-Columbian culture of South America, named after the Brazilian city of Santarém at the junction of Rio Tapajós and the lower Amazon. The high concentration of Pre-Columbian peoples formerly existing in the lower Amazon Basin, represented in the main by the Santarém culture and the Konduri complex, extended along both banks of the Amazon and the lower courses of its tributaries, the Tapajós, Nhamundá, and Trombetas. Santarém remains chiefly comprise numerous pottery and stone artifacts. They are often found intact, or nearly so, and richly decorated, sometimes with modeled decorations known as “caretas.” Applied ornaments are common in Santarém pottery and are often found detached from the pieces they once decorated. Such pottery is attributed to the Tapajó, a people who occupied the territory at the time of the first European contact. Often found in association with the Santarém ceramics are items of pottery attributed to the Konduri, neighbors of the Tapajó, whose principal center was the city of ...