Art of the Americas after 1300 - Eric McLaughlin

external image moz-screenshot.pngexternal image 23-1.jpg
  • The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan wasn't discovered until early November 1519 by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes.
  • The city seemed to float on water seeing as the masonry buildings were constructed on islands in the middle of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico.
  • The army of the Spanish conquistador was amazed at the great towers, temples, and straight and level causeways connecting to the mainland. Many of the soldiers thought what they were seeing was a dream.
  • Native Americans of what is now Louisiana began constructing monumental earthworks ("engineered works created through the moving of massive quantities of soil or unformed rock") as early as 1700 BCE.
  • The above image, "A View of the World" c. 1400-1519 is a painting on animal hide that depicts the enigmatic period before the arrival of the conquistadors. The ancient fire god Xiuhtecutli is the center of a very symbolic message about the culture of the period.
  • The indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, Andean South America, and North America had no special objects as "works of art", some were utilitarian while others were ritualistic and symbolic. There was no distinction between fine arts and decorative arts.
  • The Aztec in Mexico and Inca in South America rose to power in the 15th century shortly before European explorers started searching for new trade routes to Asia. According to their own legend, The Aztecs changed from a nomadic people to a prominent empire to a conquered civilization in 400 years.
  • Aztec society was divided into 3 social classes: elite of rulers and nobles, middle class of professional merchants and luxury artisans, and a lower class of farmers and laborers. Aztec religion was a complex pantheon that combined deities from multiple cultures such as ancient Mexico. The continued existence of the universe depended on human actions such as ritual bloodletting or human sacrifice. Every 52 years on the Mesoamerican calendar was a fire-lighting ritual and sacrificial victims sustained the sun god, Huitzilopochtli.

external image Codex_Mendoza_folio_2r.jpgexternal image P-3.jpg
  • "The Founding of Tenochtitlan" (left) c. 16th century, ink and color on paper shows an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus, the symbol of the city Tenochtitlan. Waterways divide the city into four quarters and seated figures subdivide the quarters into wards. The warriors at the bottom represent Aztec conquests.
  • "The Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui" ("She of the Golden Bells") (right) c. 1469 depicts the Moon Goddess who attempted to kill her mother and the earth mother, Coatlicue, but was slain by her half brother ans the sun god, Huitzilopochtli. Every day at dawn the sun god must fight off the darkness and kill the stars (sun gods 400 brothers) that conspired to kill mother earth along with the moon.
external image qoricancha.jpg
  • "Walls of the Temple of the Sun" Cuzco, Peru. Inca. 15th century. Inca masonry uses the technique of beveling, or cutting at an angle, so that the stones had a pillowed form and each block retained its identity. The blocks were ground so that adjoining blocks fit tightly together without mortar. Inca structures survived earthquakes that have destroyed later structures.
external image coatlicue.jpg

external image old_map_of_western_hemisphere_french_1780_poster-p228411474901290957t5wm_400.jpg

  • "The Mother Goddess, Coatlicue" Aztec, 1487-1520. Basalt. This statue was found in the Temple of Huitzilopochtli covered with blood. It stood high above the disk of the vanquished Coyolxauhqui. Mother Earth, or "she of the serpent skirt", had broad shoulders, clawed hands and feet, and a skirt of twisted snakes. She birthed the sun god by holding within her chest a ball of hummingbird feathers (the soul of a fallen warrior) that had dropped from the sky.
external image Tupa-inca-tunic.png
  • "Tunic" Peru. Inca c.1500. Wool and cotton. Inca textile patterns and colors were standardized to convey information at a glance. Not only was this decorative but it also carried important symbolic messages such as social rank. The four-part motifs ("any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story") may refer to the Land of the Four Quarters. The checkerboard pattern indicated military officer position and royal escorts.
external image quillmontage.jpg
  • Woodlands art of North America focused on personal adornment such as tattoos, body paint, elaborate dress and fragile arts such as quillwork (soaking porcupine and bird quills to soften them, then working them into rectilinear, ornamental surface patterns on deer-skin clothing and on birch-bark artifacts like baskets and boxes.)
  • Beadwork, the art or craft of attaching beads to one another or to cloth, became common place after European contact. In the late 18th century, Native Americans used colored glass beads until the 19th century when they favored tiny seed beads. Early beadwork mimicked the patterns and colors of quillwork until beadwork incorporated European designs in a process known as reintegration, or to restore unity to something.

external image map30b.jpg