Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poverty Point, Louisiana

A friend (my academic mentor) recently drove through Louisiana and stopped at Poverty Point, an ancient site where inhabitants altered the landscape from 1600 to 700BC. They created mounds and other earthworks, plus made art. They also imported exotic natural materials from the Ozarks, Tennessee and the Great Lakes.
The little owl pendants are made from red jasper.
These are thought to be stone net weights; the site is located near the Mississippi River and residents likely fished, hunted and collected wild plants.
Today the site is protected as a national monument; the majority of Native mounds and earth works have been destroyed by modern farming, urban development and highways. These cards are my first from this ancient site!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Aztec Mexico

this week's mail was full of great postcards! Two present aspects of Aztec culture & society related to their calendar system. Like most complex societies, the Aztec devised a system for determining the best days to plant, get married, do important activities, hold religious ceremonies etc. Some days were considered more fortunate; individuals born on those dates would be successful in life while those born on unlucky days were bound by fate to fail, Aztec scribes & priests kept track of their information by stone engravings and folding paper books known as a codix which they continued to make even after the conquest.

 The Aztec Sun Stone was found in the main square of Mexico City in 1790. It was a part of the temple complex in the heart of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. This complex was destroyed by the Spanish and most of the stones used to build colonial buildings and churches that form modern Mexico City. Today this sculpture is found in Mexico's National Anthropology Museum and is a common symbol on many tourist goods; it has even appeared in stories about the supposed Mayan world end of Dec 2012. Thanks to a Postcrosser who visited the Museum and brought this card home!

This curious little astrology card came from an exchange partner in Hawaii. The image is an Aztec warrior dressed in feline outfit, armed with an obsidian studded war club, and a decorative feather shield. The best Aztec warriors were members of specialized military groups, similar to European knights, who participated in hand to hand combat with the hope of bringing home war captives. Sadly few of the feathered shields have survived; feather work was highly prized and exotic feathers were sent as tribute from vassel states to the Empire. After the conquest the best artisans used their skills to make Catholic religious art in feathers.
Sales of this card benefit preservation of the Ituri Rain Forest in the DR Congo

Saturday, March 9, 2013

NM old & new

More great cards from New Mexico arrived today!

This card features two elder Navajo (Dine) women wearing velveteen blouses and broom skirts, styles adapted from soldier's wives when the Navajo were forced to walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in the 1860s. The Long Walk and time spent at this reservation resulted in the deaths of many native people; after four years the reservation was abandoned and the Navajo were allowed to return home to the Four Corners region.

This card features native rock art found at the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico. The site has more than 21,000 carvings of birds, animals, fish, plants and humans made by the Mogollon people, ancestors to the Pueblos, between 900 and 1400AD.

This is a well known image of women from the Pueblo village of Zuni. A series of cards using images from the same photo shoot were produced in the 1960s and 1970s but this card offers a nice colorful close portrait of the women. They wear very fine jewelry including large silver & turquoise squash blossom necklaces, coral necklaces, and silver & turquoise pins. Zuni pottery is made from local clay with a white slip and redish designs. The deer with a heart line began appearing in the mid 1800s; other designs include frogs, lizards, birds and geometric patterns. In the 1920s Zuni women began performing a dance while balancing a pot on their heads, honoring women's activities such as carrying water home and tending gardens.