City of Mesa, AZ

Mesoamerican and South American Collections

 

Early Cultures of Central Mexico, 1500 BC-AD 750
 
The first high civilization of Mesoamerica was the Olmec, 1500-400 BC, which flourished in the Gulf Coast states of Veracruz and Tabasco, although Olmec influence spread throughout central and southern Mexico.  Some of the earliest cultures of the Americas arose in the highlands of central Mexico in the vicinity of Mexico City.  By 1250 BC, Tlatilco was one of the major population centers in the Valley of Mexico.  Tlatilco culture is known for its figurines, which offer clues about dress, adornment and activities.  Later, Teotihuacán civilization arose and flourished in central Mexico around AD 100-750.  Teotihuacán is famed for its great pyramids, urbanism, painting and plastic arts, and wide influence.

 

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Tlatilco, Valley of Mexico
1200-900 BC

Tlatilco figures, primarily voluptuous female effigies, are some of the finest figurative art created in Mesoamerica.  These two figures are solid ceramic with painted and applied decoration.

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Teotihuacán
AD 650-750

At left is a mold-made fragment of an enthroned figure with remains of red and white paint, Teotihuacán IV.  On the right is a Tlaloc figure, recognizable from the circles around the eyes.  Tlaloc was a deity of water and rain, and his images are common at Teotihuacán and later Aztec culture.


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Teotihuacán
AD 400-750

On the left is a mold-made face with traces of white paint, possibly the central element in a larger sculpture, Teotihuacán III-IV.  On the right, a mold-made figure fragment of a feather and tassel headdress, Teotihuacán IV.

 

West Mexico:  Proto Classic of Jalisco, Nayarit and Colima, 100 BC-AD 300
 
The ceramic traditions of West Mexico are well known for their lifelike figurines of humans and animals.  The sculptures show men and women in a great variety of naturalistic poses, with various kinds of dress and all sorts of accoutrements.  Similarly, ceramic artists sculpted many animals in great diversity of motions.  The figurines come from shaft tomb burials in the west Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Colima.

 

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Chupícuaro, Guanajuato
400-100 BC

Chupícuaro was a major site in the Formative Period in Guanajuato, northwest Mexico, known for its ceramic styles, which may have influenced later cultural and ceramic traditions in West Mexico.  This female figurine has a red and cream slip, with inlaid teeth.
 

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Colima
Pihuamo Style
100 BC-AD 300

Standing male effigy with white resist decoration and incised pattern on the chest over a burnished red slip.  The hollow ceramic figure has white painted and applied ceramic decoration.


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Colima
100 BC-AD 300

Seated female effigy of hollow burnished buff ceramic.

 

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Nayarit
San Sebastian Red style
100 BC-AD 300

Male seated figure, possibly a warrior or a shaman, holds a mace and wears a two horned helmet.  The burnished red slip yields a smooth shiny surface, with faint traces of black painted decoration.

 

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Nayarit
Ixtlan del Rio style
100 BC-AD 300

Male figure of burnished polychrome with fan, hat, nose and ear plugs.


 
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Nayarit
Chinesco style
100 BC-AD 300

Beaker in the shape of a foot with burnished cream slip and red band decoration.  The toes are more claw-like than human.

 

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Jalisco
Ameca region
100 BC-AD 300
 
Female effigy censer with vessel behind head held by forehead strap.  Mottled brown or red slip.

 

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Jalisco
Ameca region
100 BC-AD 300
 
Female effigy figure with large nose and nose ring and stubby arms wearing skirt.  Brown and tan.

 

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Colima
100 BC-AD 300


 Male figurine with pouch of burnished red-brown banded slip and incised decoration.


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Colima
300 BC-AD 400
 
Dog with red-orange burnished slip.  Dogs were a favorite subject of Colima ceramic artists, and believed to be a guide to heaven and a protector of the ancestors.

 

 

 

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Colima
100 BC-AD 300
 
Pair of red slipped male and female figures.

 


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Colima
100 BC-AD 300
 
Trophy head.  Trophy heads were often depicted in the art of Mesoamerica.

 
 

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Colima
100 BC-AD 300
 
Pair of foot beakers, burnished brown/black with incised toes.

 

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Colima
Tixacacuesco-Ortices style
100 BC-AD 300
 
Plainware tripod incense burner with figure supporting a heavy burden on its head and back.

  

 

 

Early Cultures of Central Mexico

Classic Maya

North Coast of Peru

53 N. Macdonald
Mesa, AZ 85201

(One block north of Main Street in downtown Mesa. Take US 60 or 202 to Country Club Drive, go to Main Street, and proceed one-half mile east to Macdonald) - View Map

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480-644-2230

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