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Ceramics of Ancient AmericaMultidisciplinary Approaches$
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Yumi Park Huntington, Dean E. Arnold, and Johanna Minich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056067

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056067.001.0001

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Emblems of Cultural Identity in Early Andean Art

Emblems of Cultural Identity in Early Andean Art

Engraved Head Motifs on Cupisnique Ceramics

(p.131) 5 Emblems of Cultural Identity in Early Andean Art
Ceramics of Ancient America

Yumi Park Huntington

University Press of Florida

This chapter employs the traditional art historical methods of formal analysis and iconography to understand head motifs engraved on Cupisnique ceramics that were made between 1200 and 200 BCE. Rather than characterizing a small social group operating in isolation, these motifs and objects serve as indicators of cultural identity, affiliation, and transmission, expressing complex interactions between neighboring cultures. In other words, the head motifs on Cupisnique ceramics display the cultural networks inside of which the Cupisnique people saw themselves. Through conscious combination of various techniques and symbols appropriated from other cultures, Cupisnique artists created innovative objects unique to their own society. In particular, the Cupisnique people combined the post-firing engraving techniques of the Chorrera and Machalilla cultures of Ecuador with head motifs appropriated from the architectural friezes of Huaca de los Reyes, a public ritual space, to create small, personal items. These objects with imagery and techniques appropriated into a new, private context become a key distinction of the Cupisnique culture against its neighbors, antecedents, and trade partners.

Keywords:   Cupisnique, Huaca de los Reyes, Ceramics, Iconography, cultural identity, Ecuador, Chorrera, Machalilla

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