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Abstract

This article explores the dynamics of adoption and re-adaptation of European visual culture evident in the production of the series of canonical and apocryphal archangel paintings produced in the Andes during the colonial period. Referencing the theoretical framework proposed by Raquel Chang-Rodríguez (1999) that suggests that behind an item of apparent assimilation there are elements of cultural resistance, this research aims to elucidate the elements of indigenous religiosity that survived within an apparently European visual context using the paintings as documents. The archangel paintings, originally informed by Italian artists, suffered a process of assimilation and transformation by Andean artists who turned them from a symbol of the conquerors and their military might into a symbol of Andean identity, nonconformity, and validation under the Spanish imperial rule.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

The word bohío was used in the Caribbean to designate the houses of the indigenous population: simple one-room structures made with local materials such as palms and thatched roofs. In Cuba, the bohío became a hybrid architectural construction, originally conceived by the Taínos, later adopted and modified by the Spaniards in the early years of the colony, and lastly assigned to the African slave quarters in nineteenth-century Cuban sugar plantations with additional changes to the general schema made by them. This evolution is traced through the analysis of historical and literary sources, from sixteenth-century Cronistas de Indias to nineteenth-century traveler and costumbrista writers.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

As the influence of the Spanish Inquisition increased in the decades following the Spanish conquest of Mexico, it became increasingly common for indigenous tlacuiloque, or artist-scribes, to replace pictographic images of pre-Hispanic deities with iconography related to the Christian devil. This paper examines this practice in relation to the depiction of the devil and the diabolic as they are recorded in the Florentine Codex, a sixteenth-century manuscript that combines Spanish and Nahuatl texts with pictographic images.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

The ancient Mesoamerican manuscripts generally known as “Borgia Group” share a religious content matter, understood to be primarily divinatory in nature since the work of Nowotny. According to this view, images in the Borgia Group manuscripts are emblematic susceptible to different readings when consulted at every new occasion. Nowotny himself recognized, however, that a few sections do not follow a strict divinatory partition based on the 260-day calendar, but rather describe ceremonial actions, taking on a narrative and discursive character generally absent from the mantic sections. This article focuses on how divination overlaps with ritual and ceremony in Codex Laud, a manuscript that presents the greatest number of sections without any clear parallel in other codices. By focusing on Laud’s unique structure, iconography, and calendrics my analysis attempts to shed some light on its internal logic.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas
In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas
Author: Keith Jordan

Abstract

This contribution represents a case example of how mythology and literature from post-conquest sources might be used for framing hypotheses about the meaning of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican iconography, and the problems of this approach. It focuses on a stela in the style of Early Postclassic Tula from El Cerrito, Querétaro, Mexico, that reflects the adoption of Toltec sculptural traditions at this northern center. I interpret its complex iconography using the framework provided by the Flower World/Flower Mountain complex of ideas around the afterlife documented for historic Uto-Aztecan speakers and extended to the interpretation of Maya and Teotihuacan iconography by the work of Karl Taube. I highlight both how this model explains the unusual juxtaposition of images on the stela and the limitations and difficulties of using historic data in attempts at understanding pre-Hispanic art.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (1780-1783) of southern Peru galvanized indigenous, mestizo, and even Spanish rebels to overthrow colonial rule. While scholars have amply examined the sociopolitical and economic dimensions of the rebellion, this article considers how visual and material culture informed perceptions of insurgency. This paper argues that the tools with which the Tupac Amaru rebels promoted their vision consisted of a diverse repertoire of objects, both religious and secular, that were adapted for political ends. Ultimately, this article considers how rebels and royalists alike to placed insurgency into a collective worldview that could be imagined, visualized, and actualized.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

In 1615, Andean nobleman Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala completed El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno. While the manuscript focuses on the encounter between Andeans and Spaniards, the author both writes about and draws images of Africans in the Andes. His illustrations of Africans as well as other examples by indigenous artists provide a wider understanding of both the visualities of the black body in the Viceroyalty and the dynamics between two subaltern groups. What emerges is a plurality of roles, visions, and relationships that while entrenched within a Spanish colonial system were not only defined by it.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas
Author: Miguel Arisa

Abstract

The term ‘enconchado’ describes Mexican oil paintings inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl that emerged in viceregal New Spain in the seventeenth century. A truly original art form, it melded artistic threads from three continents, Europe, Asia, and the Americas, the latter harking back to pre-Hispanic times. Shiny objects revered as sacred in indigenous cultures added a layer of significance to Baroque concepts of the miraculous. Enconchado paintings not only fulfilled yearnings for the miraculous effects of images, but also imparted to the newly formed Creole class an artistic vocabulary that reverberated with vestigial pre-Hispanic forms, Asian influence, and European subject matter to realize the Creole’s cosmopolitan ambitions.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas
Author: Mary Brown

Abstract

In the first millennium BCE, the arid south coastal desert of Peru gave rise to a small village society now known as Paracas, from which over 400 mummy bundles were scientifically excavated in the early twentieth century. Multiple layers of woven textiles with exquisitely embroidered figural imagery, especially that of avian creatures, enclosed the bundles of elite males. In the absence of any written texts from Paracas, this article explores the conjecture that its textile imagery constitutes the primary record of its lost oral tradition and its expression in cosmology, folklore, myth, and narrative as well as its inspiration from the natural environment and individual species of birds.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas