Ancient Colombian metal smiths made many adornments for the elite, including headdresses, nose ornaments, ear spools, breastplates, wrist and ankle cuffs, and scepters. The nose ornament in particular was likely a symbol of high status, as these tended to be very large, crescent-shaped pieces that hung from the septum of the nose and covered most of the lower part of the face, but without obstructing the wearer’s vision.
The tourist trade has affected Native art of the Americas in many different ways. In some cases, the tourist trade has contributed to the revival and revitalization of artforms that had nearly died out. In others, the tourist trade has provided reasons for the continued production of traditional art that no longer holds meaning for a culture, such as art made for religious rituals that are no longer practiced; this has also provided the development of new purposes and meanings for certain traditional forms of art.
American Southwest Blackware Researched by Rebecca Steiner and Stephenie Walker The design of this large, double-handled black pottery vessel appears to reflect authentic Cherokee design for utilitarian vessels. However, it was made for sale through the Cherokee Indian Reservation co-op …
“Chancay dolls” are folk art figures made by contemporary indigenous and Mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish) cultures of the Andean region in South America. The figures are modeled after ancient cloth soft sculptures found in the graves of elite Chancay people, whose culture flourished in the central coastal desert region of Peru during the Late Intermediate period (1000-1460 CE).
Powwows originated as gatherings within individual Great Plains cultures to celebrate their members’ accomplishments in society as well as victories in battle with feasting, traditional music, ceremonies, and dances to honor the elders and the ancestors. After World War II, powwows were also organized to honor family members who had lost their lives in the war, to welcome home and honor Native soldiers who had served in war, and to reintroduce these returning heroes to their cultural traditions.
Skilled beadwork is traditionally produced by female Native American artists of the Great Plains, the Eastern Woodlands, and the Sub-Arctic region. Previous to the adoption of beadwork as an artform, artists of these cultures made quillwork, or woven designs made of trimmed and dyed porcupine quills. Beads had long been produced by these cultures from bone, shell, stone, and metal, but while beadwork is somewhat simpler than quillwork, the carving and drilling of handmade beads was so labor-intensive that quillwork was favored. The introduction of inexpensive glass trade beads by Western European cultures facilitated the adoption of beadwork by Native artists, and Western cultures were amazed at how quickly these artists mastered the art and began producing elaborate designs.
The Navajo, also known as the Diné, migrated from the Alaskan interior and northwestern Canada down through the Great Plains to the American Southwest between 1200-1500 CE. There they adopted many aspects of Pueblo ways of life, adapting them to create distinctive religious practices and art. Upon the arrival of the Spanish in the Southwest and the introduction of sheep, the Navajo became shepherds and Navajo women began to spin and weave wool on upright looms.
American Southwest Pueblo Ceramics Researched by Katie McElfresh and Tandy Barber Ollas served traditionally as large storage jars for the Pueblo cultures; they are globular in shape with a tapered bottom, have shoulders at the top, and have …
The ancient Tolima culture of Colombia produced large pendants or pectorals of tumbaga, an alloy of copper and gold. This material was easier to handle than pure gold, but the surface could be manipulated to appear as if the finished object were made of gold alone. This small reproduction in brass was likely made by a Mestizo (a person of mixed indigenous and Spanish heritage) craftsperson, and it mimics a common form of Tolima breastplates: A creature that combines a human and an animal.
Totem poles are an essential part of Native American culture in the Pacific Northwest Coast region. The most prominent animal on a pole, usually shown at the top, serves as the clan totem, or primary family animal ancestor, a symbol of identity that fulfills a similar function as a European family crest. The animal figures below the primary totem animal usually represent the clan’s history, illustrating how the family was joined with other clans through such events as marriage or conquest.
This figural sculpture was likely made between 1890 and 1930 to sell to tourists who were traveling near the Cochiti Pueblo, between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cochiti ceramic artists would make figural caricatures of all the different people who passed through the pueblo, including carnival performers such as circus acrobats, singers, and clowns, as well as businessmen, priests, and tourists.
While the Maya rebozo takes the form of a long, wide scarf, it has many uses, from serving as a cloak, to carrying babies and bundles, to serving as padding under a basket carried on the head. Like the Sash from Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, this rebozo uses the ikat technique, which shows the soft, watery images of flowers and birds visible within the stripes. The real artistry of any rebozo, however, is shown in the fine elaborate weaving at the beige ends of the garment, where a skilled weaver has created lacy, elaborate designs, ending in a thick fringe.
The Hand Scraper was made by North American cultures of the Late Paleo-American period, which took place between 9000 and 8000 BCE. The scraper was made of a very fine-grained, glassy rock called Genevieve chert, which (like Osage and Burlington chert) is found in the Ozarks region and is a very good for making sharp stone tools. The Hand Scraper is a tool that is thinned and sharpened into an edge on one side, and this edge is used for scraping materials such as wood or leather, to shape them and make them smooth.