The Immortal Feline The lords of the ancient world sought to connect themselves with symbols of physical, supernatural and visual power. So, it’s no surprise that predatory cats were a key motif in many artistic traditions of Pre-Columbian people across Central and South America. As hunters, big cats embody strength and agility inspiring awe […]

Ceremonial Ceramics of the Calima The Calima Culture was a succession of overlapping societies that settled along the Calima River in Western Colombia around 1500 BC. Over time, agricultural chiefdoms gave rise to more centralized governance and the role of shamanism and ritual grew with the expansion of a ruling class. The height of Calima […]

The Painted Stones of Chucu In the mountainous Chucu region of southern Peru, miles of huge boulder fields form innumerable caves and passages. Starting early in the 19th Century, people exploring the area began finding painted ceramic plaques and stone slabs cached there between 700 – 1200 AD. These amazing millennia old paintings were made with vivid mineral […]

                                                                                                                             Great Small Textiles Amidst the full Pre-Columbian Tunics and Mantles that we often feature in the gallery, it’s easy to forget that some of the oldest, finest and most colorful Peruvian weavings are quite small. Despite their size however, these amazing pieces retain the presence and potency of the great cultures that wove them.    […]

Olmec Culture: Cradle of Civilization   Sometime after 3000 BC the people settling along the fertile southern coasts of the Gulf of Mexico began forming a society. The “Olmec” (as they would later be called by the Aztecs) are one of the earliest cultures in Mesoamerica. They evolved without outside influence, making them what archaeologists […]

mor·tar /ˈmôrdər/ noun    1. a cup-shaped receptacle made of hard material, in which ingredients are crushed or ground, used especially in cooking or pharmacy. See also; “mortar and pestle” The Mortar was a widely used implement in many Pre-Columbian cultures. It played a key role in rituals and ceremonies but was also an important part […]

Faces of the Past: Pre-Columbian Masks   The first masks likely evolved from face painting in the Neolithic period. Since then, various types of masks have been used in nearly every part of the world. Masks are worn for protection, disguise, performance, ritual and in burial practices. Others are not worn, but represent the faces of […]

Ancient Avians: Birds in Pre-Columbian Art The humans that inhabited Central and South America before the arrival of Europeans were keen observers. Like us, they  marveled at the detail and diversity of life in their surroundings. How do we know this? Because their weavings, stone work, metal work and ceramics all come to life with […]

Gold of the Ancient Americas   The earliest evidence of worked gold in the Americas appears around 2000 BC from the region near the Lake Titicaca at the modern border between Bolivia and Peru. From there, the use of gold spread slowly northward up the coast over many centuries. By 100 BC it was in regular […]

The Baskets of Tiahuanaco The Tiahuanaco Culture flourished in the Bolivian Altiplano south of Lake Titicaca for over a millennia. At the height of the empire, from 300 BC – 300 AD, the capital city of Tiahuanaco was the major cultural and spiritual center in the region. Tiahuanaco’s builders engineered massive stone structures and courtyards […]