The oldest pieces in the exhibition – Skull Mask and Skeleton
1800-1200 BCE / Ceramic
The components of the Harris Collection shaped by Mexico and South America reveal a distinct approach to skulls and skeletons. One of the oldest objects displayed is the Skull Mask from Tlatlico in the Valley of Mexico. This culture’s people buried the dead beneath the floor of their house and placed ceramic figures like this with the body in the grave. The close association of the living and the dead from this culture reminds us of the current Day of the Dead tradition in the same area.
700-1500 BCE / Ceramic
Tairona Culture, Columbia
The Tairona people lived in northern Columbia before Europeans arrivedthere in the 16th century. They withdrew into the mountains after clashing with the Spanish who coveted the gold worn by Taino as ornamentation. Our understanding of their culture is incomplete, but their descendents, the Kogi, believe that people returned to the body of the Great Mother. This may help us understand the fetal position of this skeleton figure.
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