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Olmec art

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Michelle Sandberg
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« on: June 04, 2007, 01:25:19 pm »

Olmec art

Olmec artforms remain in works of both monumental statuary and small jadework. Much Olmec art is highly stylized and uses an iconography reflective of a religious meaning. Some Olmec art, however, is surprisingly naturalistic, displaying an accuracy of depiction of human anatomy perhaps equaled in the pre-Columbian New World only by the best Maya Classic era art. Common motifs include downturned mouths and slit-like slanting eyes, both of which can be seen as representations of "were-jaguars". Olmec figurines are also found abundantly in sites throughout the Formative Period.



 
Fish Vessel, 12th–9th century BCE.  Height: 6.5 inches (16.5 cm).

In addition to human subjects, Olmec artisans were adept at animal portrayals, for example, the fish vessel to the right or the bird vessel in the gallery below. Ceramics are produced in kilns capable of exceeding approximately 900° C. The only other prehistoric culture known to have achieved such high temperatures is that of Ancient Egypt
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2007, 01:26:15 pm »

Olmec colossal heads

Perhaps the best-recognized Olmec art are the enormous helmeted heads. As no known pre-Columbian text explains these, these impressive monuments have been the subject of much speculation. Given the individuality of each, these heads seem to be portraits of famous ball players or perhaps kings rigged out in the accoutrements of the game.[15]

According to Grove,[16] the unique elements in the headgear can also be recognized in headdresses of human figures on other Gulf Coast monuments, suggesting that these are personal or group symbols.

The heads range in size from the Rancho La Cobata head, at 3.4 m high, to the pair at Tres Zapotes, at 1.47 m. Some sources estimate that the largest weighs as much as 40 tons, although most reports place the larger heads at 20 tons.

The heads were carved from single blocks or boulders of volcanic basalt, quarried in the Tuxtlas Mountains. The Tres Zapotes heads were sculpted from basalt found on San Martin Volcano. The lowland heads were possibly carved from the Cerro Cintepec. It is possible that the heads were carried on large balsa rafts from the Llano del Jicaro quarry to their final locations, or more likely dragged and rafted down rivers. To reach La Venta, roughly 80 km (50 miles) away, the rafts would have had to move out onto choppy waters of the Bay of Campeche.

Some of the heads, and many other monuments, have been variously mutilated, buried and disinterred, reset in new locations and/or reburied. It is known that some monuments had been recycled or recarved, but it is not known whether this was simply due to the scarcity of stone or whether these actions had ritual or other connotations. It is also suspected that some mutilation had significance beyond mere destruction, but some scholars still do not rule out internal conflicts or, less likely, invasion as a factor.[17]

There have been 17 colossal heads unearthed to date.

Site Count Designations
San Lorenzo 10 Colossal Heads 1 through 10
La Venta 4 Monuments 1 through 4
Tres Zapotes 2 Monuments A & Q
Rancho la Cobata[18] 1 Monument 1

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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2007, 01:27:47 pm »



An Olmec jade mask.
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2007, 01:30:17 pm »



An Olmec jade mask.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olmecs
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2007, 01:31:18 pm »



Colossal Olmec head no. 6 from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2007, 01:32:40 pm »



Colossal Olmec head at a museum in Xalapa, Veracruz
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2007, 03:02:07 pm »



One of the "twins" from El Azuzul
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2007, 03:03:04 pm »



Bird Vessel, 12th–9th century BCE
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Michelle Sandberg
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2007, 03:04:00 pm »



Three celts, Olmec ritual objects.
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2007, 03:05:11 pm »



An Olmec were-jaguar
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