In the eras before European influences, the Americas were populated by diverse groups of indigenous cultures including in Mesoamerica (the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacano, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Aztec, and the Maya) and the Andes (Inca, Moche, Chibcha, Ca–aris). This period before the arrival of Europeans is called the Precolumbian Era.
The oldest known culture in the West of Mexico is the Chupicuaro (named after the archaeological site in the Lima basin). Only a few ruins and stone utensils remained from the society. The many skulls and beheaded skeletons tell us that is was not a very peaceful society. However, the ceramic tradition of the Chupicuaro is one of the best known of Central America. Most of the famous three-colored pottery is found in graves. It consists of geometrically decorated vases and vessels in all forms, but also of animal and human figurines that are decorated in a similar way. Normally, female figurines are usually extremely broad-hipped, probably as a symbol of fertility. We know from related cultures that they are also associated with the fertility of the earth and the changing of the seasons.
Here are some more famous Precolumbian artworks.
Maya Vision Serpent: The maya vision serpent symbolizes the passage of ancestral spirits and the gods of Xibalba (the maya underworld) into our world. In states of ecstasy and usually following penis or tongue bloodletting, particularly as graphically depicted at Yaxchilan, maya mobility invoke the vision serpent.
Feathered Serpent Kukulcan: One of the great Gods of Ancient Mesoamerica, Quetzalcoatl is a synthesis of serpent and bird. The name means “quetzal serpent”. The quetzal was a sacred bird of very beautiful feathers which were used in elite and ritual costumes.
Aztec Solar Calendar: The Aztec calendar set out the mathematical formulas according to which the whole universe was organized and which governed the actions of men and Gods alike. The calendar was consulted by the priests before the Aztecs engaged in any activity–whether farming, warfare, religion or commerce. The Aztecs attributed the invention of the calendar to the God Quetzalcoatl.
Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque: This stepped pyramid is situated at Palenque. It was dedicated to King Pacal for his seventy year reign, completed by his son. He is known for extending some of Palenque’s most notable inscriptions and monumental architecture.
History Develops. Art Stands Still.— E.M. Forester
Through the years, our collection has included select replicas from the diverse cultures of Precolumbian Art. At times we have offered images of serpent gods, great kings, and celebratory scenes of death and rebirth. Their artworks survive in many forms including carved stone and wall paintings, terracotta figurines of agricultural gods, and great temples at Palenque. However, manufacturers of these items have come and gone. We are always looking for new resources to offer.