Art & Music around 1,000 AD

The Globe

 

Africa

There were two heads found in Veracruz that were geographically traceable:
Scar-patterned Africa heads from Mexico (left); African head from medieval Ife (Nigeria), (right). (Gods of the Cataclysm)

They were Blacks, they dated from the early classic period (circa 600 AD), and their faces were scarred in very specific scar patterns. I went across the Atlantic to Africa. Where in Africa were these cicatrization patterns used? I could trace the patterns back to twelfth-century Nigeria, to the Nigerian Ife culture, a culture (close to Benin) which produced fine terracotta heads that had a Mediterranean look about them, that weren't angular, stiff, geometric, like "traditional" African art. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Ashanti stoll from Africa (left) and Arawak stool from Caribbean. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Southwest Asia

 

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

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Perhaps the most awesome of all Aztec sculptures is that of Coatlicue, the Aztec Great Mother, with her skull head, cat paws, snake skirt, and snake crown (left). Very rightly she is described as the beginning and end of Aztec cosmology. She precedes Ometecultli/Omecihuatl (Tanit-Baal Haman), and I saw her, I think correctly, as an Aztec version of Kali the Great Indian Mother Goddess--destroyer, creator, and the simultaneous beginning and end of the whole, almost interchangeable processes of coming to life and coming to death (right). Kali, in Indian theology, is a blood-drinker, a companion of "demons." She is the power of time, transcendent night, the power of ether. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

China

 

Europe

Tanit altar from western Mexico (left), and tanit altar from Sardinia. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Rosslyn Chapel has many other fascinating themes running through its abundance of carvings. There are, for instance, a large number of statues that depict heavenly angels. Those with a cross above their heads appear to represent archangels, while among the parade of angelic carvings supporting the now empty stone plinths in the chapel's retro-choir are an altogether different collective of winged angels. These are covered either in body hair or feathers and each makes a different sign with its hands. Their individual poses bear a striking resemblance to the secret signs of Free-masonry, suggesting that the figures may therefore be interpreted as the rebel angels revealing the heavenly secrets to humanity. By their side is an angel hanging upside down, its body tied and bound with rope. A round, pudding-basin haircut confirms the heavenly being's male gender and, like the other angels in the same group, he possesses wings. Both his hands are bound before him by a thick rope that winds twice around the body and trails away as raised relief to form the letter Z (like an S transposed) on each wing. The figure wears a long flowing garment and, unlike the other angels, there is what seems to be a beaded necklace or chain horizontally fastened above his inverted body. The specific symbolism displayed in this figure leaves no doubt as to its identity. It is not Lucifer, Satan or the Devil, but the fallen angel Shemyaza, who was tied and bound before being made to hang perpetually upside down in the constellation of Orion as punishment for allowing the 'fall' of the angels to take place. As in the story of Shemyaza (in his guise as Azza), the statue has one eye shut and the other eye open so that he may 'see his plight and suffer the more'. The beaded necklace signifies the pearls of wisdom given up to humanity by the fallen angels. (From the Ashes of Angels)

South America

The people of Tiwanaku included master stonecarvers, who produced monuumental gates, statues, and other buildings that are some of the most impressive in all Andean South America. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Goldworking, silverworking, ceramics, weaving, and sculpture were all highly developed crafts. (Patterns in Prehistory)


A falling-out among thieves and a trail of looted treasure led in 1987 to one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of this century: the glittering royal tombs of the Moche civilization, which dominated northern Peru from AD 100 to 800, centuries before the rise of the Inca Empire. Moche art is invaluable to scholars of the culture because the people had no written language. Their artisans had to speak for the culture, and they left the only stories of daily life, hunting, war and religious ceremony in the scenes on ceramics and textiles. "They almost made up for the lack of a written language with their pottery with its incredible iconography," Dr. Craig Morris, a specialist in pre-Columbian Andean culture at the American Museum of Natural History, said. "What is depicted artistically often has a basis in fact," Dr. Donnan said at the opening of an exhibition at the Fowler Museum of some of the most impressive material from the tombs. "We now realize that the art is in fact showing real people, and what we suspected were supernatural activities were real events that occurred in Moche life." (102)

The Moche were contemporaries of the Nazca in southern Peru, the people associated with the mysterious markings, or lines, in the desert plateau. Anthropomorphized spiders occur frequently in the tombs and are seen as analogs to warriors in Moche culture; spiders capture their prey, tie them with ropes of web and later extract their vital fluids, just as Moche warriors captured the enemy, tied them with ropes and later drank their blood. Among the artifacts found in the Warrior Priest's tomb are curious ornaments known as backflaps, which were apparently worn by warriors. They were made of gold or silver and were suspended from the back of the warrior's belt with a large, flaring edge hanging down. The upper part was decorated with the figure of a deity with a large fanged mouth. (102)

On the wall over my desk hangs a gold mask from another pre-Inca Peruvian coastal culture, the Chimu. It has the same orientalesque eyes, the same squat, flat nose, the carefully delineated ears (and earrings!) as the face on a bronze Shang broadax. In Shang and Chavin art, nothing stays in a definite, neat category. The monstrous and the chimerical (always beautifully symmetrical!) are the rule rather than the exception. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

The depth of Phoenician influence cannot be overstressed. I was slow in realizing that practically any aspect of Brazilian paleoethhnology or archeology can be explained by simply referring back to the Phoenicians. The very origins of pottery designs can be traced to Phoenicia. It was no casual brushing of two cultures, but a thorough colonization, a total imposition of life--and thought--styles. Consider the accompanying pottery shard from Marajo in Brazil:

Brazilian Indian version of common Phoenician "tendril design." (left) Compare it with a proto-Aeolic capital from Phoenician Cyprus, (right) (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Amazonian version of human-figure urn (left) and Trojan version of the same urn.

One striking difference is that the Brazilian urns are often completely decorated with scroll-designs. Amazonian urn with highly decorated surface. The work isn't "pure" Trojan, but a mixture of basic Phoenician design patterns overlaid on Trojan structural form. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Mesoamerica


Between AD 300 and AD 900, Maya civilization reached its climax as hundreds of beautiful pyramids, temples, and other buildings were completed, and painting and sculpture flourished. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Despite their death cults, the Aztecs in everyday life were a colorful and in some ways engaging people. The Spanish remarked on their love of flowers and natural beauty, and their poetry contains many references to the joys of the natural world. The Spanish were amazed to find that Aztecs bathed their entire bodies most days--a level of personal cleanliness that would have struck even most eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europeans as bizarre and unhealthy. (Patterns in Prehistory)

A frieze, more than nine feet high and 30 feet long, features a three-dimensional figure of a Maya ruler, ancestor gods, shells, earth monsters and dancing figures. These are images that in the Maya worldview symbolically linked Maya sovereigns with supernatural authority. Researchers determined that the frieze was sculpted in the ninth century, the very time other, more dominant cities like Tikal, Seibal, Dos Pilas and Caracol were declining or had already been abandoned. At that time, Xunantunich was a thriving city of at least 10,000 inhabitants. (104)

The Aztecs themselves looked to the Toltecs as wonderworkers, and the word toltecatl in Nahuatl means "artist." The Aztec description of the Toltecs represents them as the apotheosis of the technical, the skilled, the civilized: The Toltecs were a skillful people; all of their works were good, all were exact, all well made and admirable. Their houses were beautiful, with turquoise mosaics, the walls finished with plaster, clean and marvelous houses, which is to say, Toltec houses, beautifully made, beautiful in everything... Painters, sculptors, carvers of precious stones, feather artists, potters, spinners, weavers, skillful in all they made, they discovered the precious green stones, the turquoise; they knew the turquoise and its mines, they found its mines and they found the mountains hiding silver and gold, copper and tin, and the metal of the moon. The Toltecs were truly wise; they conversed with their own hearts... They played their drums and rattles; they were singers, they composed songs and sang among the people...(Gods of the Cataclysm)

Tanit altar from western Mexico (left), and tanit altar from Sardinia. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

African terracotta heads from pre-Columbian Mexico. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Phoenician portrait heads from pre-Columbian Mexico. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

There were two heads found in Veracruz that were geographically traceable:
Scar-patterned Africa heads from Mexico (left); African head from medieval Ife (Nigeria), (right). (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Perhaps the most awesome of all Aztec sculptures is that of Coatlicue, the Aztec Great Mother, with her skull head, cat paws, snake skirt, and snake crown (left). Very rightly she is described as the beginning and end of Aztec cosmology. She precedes Ometecultli/Omecihuatl (Tanit-Baal Haman), and I saw her, I think correctly, as an Aztec version of Kali the Great Indian Mother Goddess--destroyer, creator, and the simultaneous beginning and end of the whole, almost interchangeable processes of coming to life and coming to death (right). Kali, in Indian theology, is a blood-drinker, a companion of "demons." She is the power of time, transcendent night, the power of ether. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Examine the following little copper bell from Michoachan (western Mexico). The spiral design is right out of 3000 BC Ur, or Anatolia,...or the American Southwest. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

I had also been greatly intrigued by a passage in Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods, which speaks of the curious objects held by the four great statues of Tula. These stone figures, 16 feet tall, stand on a platform at the top of a truncated pyramid, the Temple of the Morning Star, and once supported the temple's wooden roof. What is significant about these statues is that they hold unidentifiable objects in their hands, which are pressed flat against their sides. The object on the right-hand side looks at first like a Western gunfighter's six-shooter in its holster, but the handle by which the object is held, by two fingers, looks more like the handle of some power-tool. In the left hand there is something that scholars have described as a bunch of arrows and an incense bag, but since the parallel strands are curved it seems unlikely that they are arrows. Graham Hancock remarks that he had the feeling that the original devices were made out of metal. (The Atlantis Blueprint)


... in The Lost Realms Zecharia Sitchin discusses the statues of Tollan and points out that one of the pilasters has a peculiar carving of a man wearing a segmented suit, with what looks like a kind of backpack. In his hands he is holding the same tool--the one that resembles a pistol in its holster--and is pointing it at the rock face in front of him; a surging flame is bursting out of the barrel of the 'pistol'. Sitchin says he 'uses it as a flame thrower to shape a stone'. Whether or not we dismiss Sitchin's theories as too farfetched, the fact remains that the strange objects held by the gods of Tollan are devices from which curving tongues of flame issue forth, and that Brown's Gas could have been used for this purpose. (The Atlantis Blueprint)

This related image from Toltec times is enigmatic.

North America

Stoltman has listed some characteristics that define Mississippian culture, including: distinctive pottery in shell-tempered wares, sometimes in the form of animals, and often beautifully incised, polished, or in other ways decorated... (Patterns in Prehistory)

Many late Mississippian and later period mounds and burials contain ornaments, pottery, and other artifacts decorated with motifs almost identical to some Mesoamerican motifs, including plumed serpents, eagles, jaguars, and warriors carrying trophy heads, as well as the fifty-two-year calendar round. Collectively, they are taken as evidence of a southern (Mesoamerican) religious cult. (Patterns in Prehistory)


The Hohokam peoples, who flourished in the Salt and Gila River valleys (Arizona) between about AD 500 and AD 1200 (arguments about these dates remain) seem to represent the confluence of Archaic hunting-and-gathering traditions and Mesoamerican cultures. Some archaeologists have concluded that the Hohokam were not just local peoples whose culture was transformed by contacts with the high civilizations of Mexico; on the basis of late Hohokam styles of architecture, construction, ceramics, turquoise ornaments, and other artifacts, they conclude that Hohokam styles are so similar to Mesoamerican examples that they can only be the result of an immigration of Mexican people who transplanted their way of life directly to the Hohokam area, where previously there had been only hunters and gatherers. But the Hohokam probably represent more a fusion of Mexican cultural traditions, via trade routes, and indigenous peoples than a large migration. (Patterns in Prehistory)

…between AD 900 and AD 1200, many other Mesoamerican elements were imported, including cotton textiles, certain ceramic motifs, pyrite mirrors, effigy vessels, cast copper bells, ear plugs, etched shell ornaments, and even parrots and macaws--probably imported from the south and kept and prized for their feathers. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Salako Mana—Hopi Kachina (left); same design on prehistoric Chinese pottery (right) (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Other

Thor Heyerdahl has established a conclusive link between Easter Island and Titicaca. Not finding any direct correspondence between the huge stone heads on Easter Island and anything on the mainland, he dug down to lower archeological strata on the island and found small stone statues (above left) that corresponded exactly with archaic counterparts found at Tiahuanaco (above right). This was the invaluable discovery described in Aku Aku. The earlier Kon Tiki expedition was merely to prove that it was possible to drift from the Peruvian coast to Polynesia. (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Phallic statues from Colombia (left) and Polynesia (right).Throughout the Pacific islands there are stone statues and temples very similar to those found in Tiahuanaco and elsewhere on the American Pacific coast. On the Marquesas Islands, there are "phallicoid" human figure almost identical with those found at San Agustin in Colombia: (Gods of the Cataclysm)

Cat-gods from Colombia (left and center) and Polynesia. (Gods of the Cataclysm)