A Sourcebook of Nasca Ceramic Iconography: Reading a Culture by Donald A. Proulx

By Donald A. Proulx

For nearly 8 hundred years (100 BC–AD 650) Nasca artists modeled and painted the crops, animals, birds, and fish in their place of birth on Peru’s south coast in addition to quite a few summary anthropomorphic creatures whose shape and that means are often incomprehensible this day. during this first book-length remedy of Nasca ceramic iconography to seem in English, drawing upon an archive of greater than 8 thousand Nasca vessels from over a hundred and fifty private and non-private collections, Donald Proulx systematically describes the main inventive motifs of this attractive polychrome pottery, translates the foremost topics displayed in this pottery, after which makes use of those descriptions and his stimulating interpretations to investigate Nasca society.

After starting with an outline of Nasca tradition and an evidence of the fashion and chronology of Nasca pottery, Proulx strikes to the center of his publication: a close type and outline of the full variety of supernatural and secular issues in Nasca iconography besides a clean and targeted interpretation of those issues. Linking the pots and their iconography to the archaeologically recognized Nasca society, he ends with a radical and available exam of this old tradition seen in the course of the lens of ceramic iconography. even though those static photos can by no means be totally understood, via animating their issues and meanings Proulx reconstructs the lifeways of this complicated society

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Dawson’s chronological seriation, however, was based on the other form of similiary seriation — ordering by continuity of features and themes. The general principles underlying this form of seriation go back to the nineteenth century and were first used by John Evans in 1849 to arrange a series of British coins chronologically (Rowe 1961: 326). General A. L. H. Fox-Pitt-Rivers also wrote an early article on the technique (Fox-Pitt-Rivers 1875, as noted in Rowe 1961: 326). Dawson modified these general principles to address the specific nature of Nasca ceramics, including the complex mythical designs that he viewed from the perspective of an art historian rather than strictly as an anthropologist.

Gayton and Alfred Kroeber published the results of their attempt to develop a chronological subdivision of the Nasca style. Using as their primary sample Uhle’s collection of 660 vessels, which he purchased in the Nasca Valley in 1905, they established a quantitative seriation based on the numerical analysis of shape, color, and design attributes (Gayton and Kroeber 1927: 4). : 10). : 26). : 30). Gayton and Kroeber did not attempt to classify these fifty vessels by shape categories, but they did establish Y1, Y2, and Y3 varieties based on differences in design and painting (fig.

Modeled vessels were present in the earlier Paracas style and continued into the succeeding Nasca style. Nasca effigy vessels exhibit many differences, however, from those made by the contemporary Moche and other cultures. Moche vessels portray a much wider range of themes, including portraits of leaders and scenes of everyday life. They are usually painted in only two colors, either red-on-white or blackon-white. Nasca effigy pots are painted in polychrome colors but lack the variety of themes seen in Moche art.

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