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By Karl A. Taube

Olmec artwork at Dumbarton Oaks offers the Olmec part of the Robert Woods Bliss number of Pre-Columbian artwork. It illustrates all thirty-nine Olmec artwork items in colour plates and comprises many complementary and comparative black-and-white illustrations and drawings. The physique of Pre-Columbian paintings that Robert Bliss rigorously assembled over a half-century among 1912 and 1963, amplified merely a bit on the grounds that his demise, is a remarkably major assortment. as well as their aesthetic caliber and inventive value, the gadgets carry a lot information about the social worlds and non secular and symbolic perspectives of the folk who made and used them ahead of the arriving of Europeans within the New international.

This quantity is the second one in a sequence of catalogues that may deal with items within the Bliss Pre-Columbian assortment. nearly all of the Olmec items within the assortment are made from jade, the main valuable fabric for the peoples of historic Mesoamerica from early occasions in the course of the 16th century. a number of goods akin to mask, statuettes, jewellery, and replicas of guns and instruments have been used for ceremonial reasons and served as choices.

Karl Taube brings his services at the lifeways and ideology of old Mesoamerican peoples to his examine of the Olmec items in teh Bliss assortment. His knowing of jade covers a extensive diversity of information from chemical compositions to geological resources to craft expertise to the symbolic energy of the golf green stone. through the ebook the writer emphasizes the function of jade as a strong image of water, fertility, and especially, of the maize plant which used to be the elemental resource of lifestyles and sustenance for the Olmec. The glossy eco-friendly of the stone was once analogous to the golf green progress of maize. This basic inspiration used to be elaborated in particular non secular ideals, a lot of which have been persisted and elaborated by way of later Mesoamerican peoples, similar to the Maya. Karl Taube employs his monstrous wisdom of Pre-Columbian cultures to discover and explicate Olmec symbolism during this catalogue.

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459). These fetishes are far more common in Middle Formative sites of the Olmec heartland and other regions of Mesoamerica, however. Although no archaeological examples of such maize ear fetishes have been documented for Formative Mesoamerica, Carlos Navarrete (1974: figs. 15–17) describes one intact and three fragmentary copies carved in jadeite or serpentine. In the case of the two sculptures with intact upper ends, the object is topped with the head of the Olmec Maize God (see Fig. 35h). While visiting the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, I encountered another example of an Olmec stone maize ear fetish (Fig.

Incised jadeite celt from La Venta (after Diehl 1990: no. 11); (b) Maize ear flanked by long cleft leaves (after Fields 1991: fig. 3a); (c) Olmec Maize God with a personified cleft leaf flanking its cheek. Incised celt from La Venta (after Joralemon 1971: fig. 175); (d) Examples of personified cleft foliation (see Fig. 45b, d); (e) A foliated aspect of the Olmec Maize God (after Joralemon 1971: fig. 43); (f) A foliated Maize God (after Feuchtwanger 1989: fig. 155); (g) A frontally facing foliated Maize God (after Berjonneau, Deletaille, and Sonnery 1985: pl.

However, with the four corner celts and central axis, these celts themselves also symbolize the world axis, with the bit edge pointing vertically into the sky. The previously described greenstone stelae from La Venta Complex C are essentially monumental forms of jadeite celts, as both these monuments and the smaller celts bear representations of the Olmec Maize God (Taube 1996). Greenstone celts symbolized ears of corn among the Middle Formative Olmec. : 181–182; Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993: 73–74).

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