May 17, 2017

Indigenous Stonework

 We recently wrote about the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and the very otherworldly feeling that the artwork of the indigenous Costa Rican people had, and I wanted to follow that discussion up with a handful of pictures of stone sculpture by the same people to further illustrate how awesome and unique their style and cultures were. First off, nearly all of their standing objects had three legs; both their food jars/pots and the stone benches which were the pride of the warrior class. After a lifetime of four-legged chairs, they just seem the most natural and stable way to build, but these people carved tripods for most of their needs for centuries.
 Next up, this brazer in the form of a crocodile. We saw many pieces with this strange motif on the head design and never REALLY understood why it was so prevalent and popular, other than being an amazing piece of work. One bit of text did elaborate that their artists would obsess on a single defining feature for many animals and reduce the prevalence of most other body features down to next to nothing. In the case of the crocodile, it was the ridges down the back which their artists chose to express at the cost of all else. I don't get it, but I really liked these "chainsaw lizards" whenever I saw them.
 I wanted to end with this piece since its the only one I've shared which is representative of a human being and would indicate how the people saw themselves. Warriors were a common theme of sculptures in human form, so we can assume this might have been a famous warrior or hero. It was very popular in their art to depict warriors with severed heads, which must have been bragging rights and symbols of power, but this piece does not include any.

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