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Pedro Querejazu

(b La Paz, 1933).

Bolivian sculptor. He taught himself to sculpt by studying Pre-Columbian sculpture and ceramics. Between 1959 and 1961 he traveled in several Latin American countries; he then lived in Europe for twelve years, working in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Switzerland. While in Europe he married the Swiss sculptor Francine Secretan, with whom he returned to Bolivia in 1974, settling in La Paz. In 1964 he was awarded the first “Queen Elizabeth” prize in the 10th International Sculpture Biennale in Brussels. Carrasco’s preferred materials were stone and bronze. His subject matter was based on the knowledge of the age-old traditions of native peoples and on their relation to nature, although his work is modernist in appearance. His earliest works represent seated women and later the munachis, or love and fertility amulets. In the early 1970s his art became more synthetic, more cryptic, and abstract. During this period his interpretation of the genesis of life was notable, conveyed in enormous spheres that were split open to reveal magical interior worlds. After returning to Bolivia his art became more figurative, as in ...

Article

Colin McEwan and Maria-Isabel Silva

Pre-Columbian culture that flourished on the Pacific coast of Ecuador c. ad 800–c. 1500. Manteño artisans were skilled in metalworking, especially copper, in textile-weaving, and in ceramics, but it was the late elaboration of free-standing stone sculpture that introduced a novel dimension to their artistic production.

Despite its limited repertory, Manteño sculpture stands as one of the rare pre-Inca stoneworking traditions in the northern Andes. Best known are the seats and stelae sculpted from monolithic blocks of stone of variable quality and thickness, according to the locally available raw materials. Several hundred examples, in varying states of repair, have been recovered from the abandoned ruins of major Manteño ceremonial and political centres such as Cerro Jaboncillo, Cerro de Hojas, and Agua Blanca, all in the south of Manabí Province. Both the type of stone used and the details of stylistic treatment differ from site to site, suggesting the existence of local schools of artisans. Almost invariably either a feline or a crouching male prisoner is depicted under the U-shaped arms of the seats. Although zoomorphic shamans’ stools of wood are widespread among the lowland tropical forest cultures of the New World, the Manteño seats also served to denote hierarchical ranking analogous to that of the Incas. The Spanish chronicler Guaman Poma de Ayala described how the type and size of seat awarded to an official in the political hierarchy was carefully graded according to his status. The stone stelae are engraved with images featuring the ‘heraldic woman’ motif and a reptilian ‘earth monster’, both of which were evidently integral elements of a seasonal fertility cult. Other forms found in the corpus of Manteño stone sculpture include free-standing human and zoomorphic figures in a rigidly constrained style reminiscent of Aztec monumental stone sculpture (...

Article

Warwick Bray and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian culture of the Northern Andean region that flourished between c. 800 bc and c. ad 1630. It is named after the small town of San Agustín in the department of Huila, southern Colombia. It is classed archaeologically as a culture of the Intermediate area (see South America, Pre-Columbian, §II). The region where San Agustín culture developed covers several hundred square kilometres and contains approximately 40 Pre-Columbian archaeological sites, each with its own history. The more important of these include Alto de Lavapatas, Alto de Lavaderos, Alto de los Idolos, Las Mesitas, Isnos, El Vegón, and Quinchana. The entire landscape shows evidence of human habitation: ancient trackways and field systems, house terraces, carved boulders, cist graves, shaft tombs, and a series of mounds covering stone-built chambers containing carved statues. These monuments were first described by Juan de Santa Gertrudis in 1758 and have been studied sporadically ever since....

Article

Elizabeth Baquedano

Type of sculpture made with melted sugar. It is confined to Mexico, and its origins are uncertain, although it seems likely that it developed in imitation of the Pre-Columbian custom of creating images with tzoalli dough (a Náhuatl term for maize and amaranth seeds kneaded with honey), as described in detail by 16th-century Spanish chroniclers. The latter tradition has survived to the late 20th century alongside sugar sculpture. Aztec deity images were made of clay, stone, wood or tzoalli dough, and less frequently of gold, silver or jade. The last three, more expensive materials, were used for temple images, but tzoalli images were also ‘sacred’, in that pieces were broken off and eaten, perhaps as if they represented the flesh of the gods. The 16th-century chronicler Diego Durán described how birds were made with such dough, with wings, feathers and other details attached to them and painted, techniques also used by modern sugar sculptors....