Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
Please Support Us!
Donate with PayPal!
November Goal: $40.00
Due Date: Nov 30
Gross Amount: $25.00
PayPal Fees: $1.58
Net Balance: $23.42
Below Goal: $16.58

November Donations
7th Anonymous $20.00
5th Anonymous $5.00
Pages: [1]   Go Down
This topic has not yet been rated!
You have not rated this topic. Select a rating:
Author Topic: Ceramic Art of Chupicuaro  (Read 149 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Platinum Member

Karma: 143

Posts: 1768

View Profile
« on: March 03, 2007, 01:49:52 AM »

Ceramic Art of Chupicuaro

Dolores Flores Villatoro

   In Mexico, the practice of making clay objects is very old. 2,500 years ago prehispanic populations discovered the flexibility of this material and when they added other substances like crushed shells, sand and sterecol, they discovered that it was even more malleable. At first, they worked with cooking techniques and made simple decorative pieces copying vegetables like squash; After this, the development of pottery became unlimited and they produces utensils, ceremonial and funerary objects  that are true works of art.

   When talking about ceramic art, I have to mention the characteristics common to these populations, such as their manual ability, their observation skills and their artistic sensitivity.

   An example of the artistic diversity of the Mesoamerican cultures is the art of Chup?cuaro that produced a large number of finely finished vessels and figurines, which feature among the most beautiful in Mexico. It is well known by the specialists and the general public and many of these works are on display in national, local and foreign museums in cites all over the country and abroad.

   Chup?cuaro is located near the Lerma River near to Ac?mbaro in the state of Guanajuato (now covered by the Sol?s dam). The culture was formed in the Pre Classic or Formative period between 400 BC and 200 AD, the time when Teotihuac?n, on the high central plain, flourished.

   Chup?cuaro culture is important in the Mesoamerican sub region called the West of Mexico, and it can also be seen in several states in the central high plains, the north and southeastern United States, especially in the Hohokam tradition.

   Some authors believe that the Chup?cuaro culture in the west and north of Mexico is as important as the Olmecculture in the rest of Mesoamerica.

   Groups belonging to the Chup?cuaro culture settled on the banks of lakes and rivers; there were many dispersed villages and the society was egalitarian. The typical settlements vary in terms of the number of rooms in the houses and the surrounding activities that included garbage tips, store rooms, men?s and women?s work places and family member burial grounds; these did not have sculptures or any other kind of building on them; only rock remains have been found.

   We know about the graves dug directly into the soil but little is known about the residences; the burial sites and the offerings found there have allowed us to partially reconstruct the lives of the inhabitants. Chup?cuaro man lived off fruit and seeds, hunting, fishing and corn, which he ground on grindstones; he used shells and bones to make necklaces, ear decorations and implements such as needles, punches and awls, and knives and lance tips were made out of obsidian.

   The old inhabitants of Chup?cuaro made a big pottery center where they worked with their hands, as lathes were still undiscovered. Their figurines showed a full appreciation and knowledge of shape and proportions.
Chup?cuaro?s culture and style expanded to other distant parts and it influenced pottery traditions that lasted into the Post Classic period, as can be seen on the Tarascan ceramics from Michoac?n.

   One of its most interesting characteristics is the division between the single color crockery; this was usually red, black or bright brown. As the pieces were not decorated, their beauty came from the elegant shapes and geometric motifs painted in red, black and white; the paint partially or totally covered the vessel. The paintings were beautifully done and must have taken a long time to complete.

   The most common colors were red, black and white that came from natural elements; red came from iron oxide or from clay that had a high percentage of hematite; white came from kaolin or white earth or calcium carbonate, and black came from carbon or magnetite.

   The vessels are of a constantly high quality and come in different shapes that always include hemispherical and globular contours and curved lines. Plain backgrounds and straight walls are very rare, though examples of this are pots, glasses, cups, spoons, receptacles in the shape of a foot, and tripod vessels with hollow supports, sometimes called spider legs.

   Some extraordinary examples of Chup?cuaro culture are the containers representing parts of the human body, like hands, feet, faces and heads; the realistic effect was achieved through a combination of painting and modeling techniques. Funerary art of the time included fish and birds, as the people idealized animals, on which their survival depended; they also idealized birds for the role they played in their cosmology as divine messengers that carried the seeds in agricultural rites.

   The decorations were painted onto the pieces and usually took the form of geometric shapes such as: zigzag lines, spirals, rhomboid chains, square chains (like a chess board), interlinked triangles, diagonal lines bordered with steps, crossed lines, pointed rhomboids, stepped triangles and bands of parallel lines. The drawings are in perfect harmony, they are in proportion and seem to be an abstraction of textile motifs.

   There are miniature containers or bowls three to five cm high; these are the same shape as the bigger glasses, cups and diverging neck pots. They come in monochrome and in several colors and were probably used as toys. The musical instruments made out of clay are extremely interesting as they played an important role in ceremonies and rituals in these cultures; most of them were found in children?s burial sites, which would lead us to believe that they were of special interest for infants. One can find figures of musicians, mainly masculine, as the women did not participate in that activity. The most common musical instruments were whistles, round or square bodied ocarinas, flutes, straight or round, and tambourines, with or without handles in the shape of birds with decorations.

   The clay human forms are hollow and have the same decoration as the bowls, or solid; these are more complex and have a very high quality. These figures of Chup?cuaro are small, simple delicate works of art. These have strips of clay added to the main surface, the d?cor is mainly on the head and have they have large eyes and a nose that extends down to the chin; the rest of the body is not decorated. Their bodies are proportionately small and sometimes measure half the whole height of the figure, from 7 to 13 cm; a small number of them only have the hands and feet drawn on them; most of the figures are standing; when they are sitting, their legs are short and the arms rest on their breast or stomach.

   Some pieces have decorative lines painted on their legs and hair; generally speaking, the males have white hair and the females red hair. The women are always naked. Their clothes, where applicable, consist of a truss on the males and a sash on the females; their feet are decorated with what appear to be schematic sandals and are shown by little clay balls.

   The figures are wearing many different ornaments like necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The hairdos are complicated and interwoven bands, in which elongated adornments like brooches and what would be called diadems, stand out. These maybe represent those made of textiles. A great deal of attention was paid to adornments and hairdos, the most common being the hair arranged in tufts half way down the head and a sort of fringe.

   The hollow figures are about 30 to 35 cm tall and are all females; they are standing and they have thick legs and enlarged stomachs suggesting pregnancy; there is little, if any, emphasis on the breast. Generally speaking, the hands rest on their stomach and unlike the others, they do not have any ornamentation on the body; some have perforations in their earlobes. see Malta

   The customs of these peoples can be seen through these clay figures, for example, the lack of clothing, the body and facial painting, the use of turbans or bandages on their heads and the use of complicated hairdos that were reproduced by the artists with great skill.

   During this early period, most of the figures were females, which would imply worship of maternity, and therefore the fertility of the earth; their sexual features are clearly defined, and often they are carrying children or pregnant. Possibly this was a culture in which women were the essence of social life, as they play an important role in agriculture and the production of food, in raising their offspring and in other communal activities.

   A good example of the worship of motherhood are the figurines lying down in cots or beds; these are possibly reproductions of the real ones made of bulrush or wicker; these cots have two handles, sometimes with a bird perched on the post, or sometimes forming a unit made up of a figure next to a cot which has someone lying in it. Pottery is also a medium of communication and a means of contact between artifice and the real outside world, and given that these works were deposited in graves as offerings, we wonder whether this communication might have been with the spirits, with animals, with the souls of the dead or with nature. At any rate, this art is the message of a group that lived in this early pre Christian era.


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
Pages: [1]   Go Up
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.4 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC
History Hunters Worldwide Exodus | TinyPortal v0.9.8 © Bloc