Pre-Columbian Art: Investigations and Insights

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9780806123790: Pre-Columbian Art: Investigations and Insights

This profusely illustrated, up-to-date introduction to the pre-columbian art of Mesoamerica and Andean South America examines our conceptions of the ancient high cultures, the art they produced, and how our modern-day interpretations were achieved. The book is unique in that it draws on a great variety of scholarly disciplines to interpret the art forms.
Since the 1960s our understanding of the Aztec, Maya, Inca, and Andean civilizations has increased dramatically through coordinated interdisciplinary research. In this summary of new and past investigations, Hilda Delgado Pang describes previously unknown historical figures and dynasties. In a clear and entertaining style, she tells how the pre-columbian artists validated their rulers, recorded rituals, portrayed the supernatural and astronomical cosmos, and commemorated transitions from life into death. As she describes the Mesoamerican and Andean high cultures, she also explains the special role that art plays in all societies, ancient and modern.
Pre-columbian artists expressed themselves in sculpture and monumental architecture, glyphic notations, weavings, and painted ceramics--beginning about 2000 B.C. and, in some areas, continuing after the Spanish conquest. This new introductory text explores the contributions of epigraphy, formal and iconographic analyses, chemical and botanical identifications, and ethnographic and ethnohistorical sources to our knowledge of the major art styles: Olmec, Toltec, Maya, Aztec, Chavin, Paracas, Nasca, Moche, Tiahuanaco-Huari, Chimu, and Inca. From this book students and general readers will gain challenging insights into both the ancient art forms described and the fast-moving disciplines that energize research in the field today.

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From Library Journal:

Recent scholarly advances in the understanding of the arts and cultures of the complex societies of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican and Middle Andean regions have created a need for a fresh, intelligent, and comprehensive synthesis. Although Pang's advanced introductory text is marked by an impressive command of the literature, a useful precis of that material, and a valuable bibliography, her effort is marred by an inattention to the stylistic essentials of the various cultures and to the formal nuances of individual works of art. Objects tend to be reduced to iconographic texts or arid reflections of congeries of "diagnostic" characteristics. The absence of consideration of art from Oaxaca and Vera Cruz further detracts from the book's usefulness. A somewhat uncritical acceptance of sources, inept humor, homiletic asides, and questionable analogies also diminish this information-crammed but disappointing effort.
- Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technolo gy, New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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