An Exposition of " Mesoamerican PreColumbian Art " ( Portland Museum )
Awesome exhibition. The artefacts are stunning revelations .
Pre-columbian refers to the art before 1492 , the year of Columbus' landing on the American shore .
Mesoamerica is the Cultural Area that spreads from Central Mexico through Belize , Nicaragua , Honduras , Guatemala , El Salvador , Panama, Northern Costa Rica and parts of Peru. The Valley of Mexico had been the cradle of numerous great civilizations , the last being the Aztecs . The Mayas flourished to the south of the valley .
Ceramics ( pottery ) had come into wide use in mesoamerica longbefore tge Common Era , for making utilitarian and artistic articles . Huge quantities of ancient ceramic articles were looted through the ages even before archeological excavations began.
The most renowned of the ceramic figurines of Mesoamerica come from Jaina Island, a settlement adjacent to the coast of west-central Campeche. Jaina Island's extensive burial grounds have been known since the nineteenth century, but only in the 1940s were they first scientifically excavated. Archaeologists found exquisite figurines along with the bodies dressed in their fine clothes ,cotton burial shrouds and palm-fiber mats.
Jaina Island, a small limestone island in the Yucatan Peninsula , is about 32 km. from the city of Campeche. It was a Mayan cemetery and has more than 20,000 tombs of which over a thousand have been excavated. Jaina means : "House of water". The island was first settled about 300 AD and was abandoned about 1200 AD.
Jaina-style funerary figurines are small and delicately detailed. They are realistic and reveal glimpses of the daily life of the Maya elite. They are “generally regarded as the finest figurine art produced throughout the ancient Americas”.
Though there is no museum on the island, the famous figurines are seen in museums around the world. The figurines are made of orange and are just about about 10 – 25 inches tall and are often painted.