Exhibitions : Museum Of Indian Arts & Culture

Secrets of Casa Grandes
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Mystery surrounds Casas Grandes. Located in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico, Casas Grandes was once a bustling village with sophisticated adobe architecture, Mesoamerican-style ball courts, and a complex system of stone-lined canals By the time the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, however, this important regional center was an abandoned ruin. Secrets of Casas Grandes explores questions that have baffled archaeologists for decades, and is the first exhibition to highlight not only an array of beautiful pottery, but also utilitarian objects. Concentrated around the prehistoric site of Paquimé, Casas Grandes was the most complex society of its time, blending elements of ancestral Puebloan and Mesoamerican culture. During the Medio period of A.D. 1200–1450, Casas Grandes was a major regional center of interaction and trade, with evidence of ball courts and exotic goods such as copper, shell, turquoise, and macaws. At Casas Grandes, potters made striking, intricately painted effigy vessels and geometric polychrome ollas. The vibrant pottery features elaborate symbolic imagery and depicts humans, supernatural beings, fantastic creatures, and animals, including macaws, owls, fish, turtles, serpents. Some scenes portray dancing figures with animal headdresses, and appear to tell stories of transformation from the human to spiritual realm. Along with other archaeological evidence, the variety of ceramic forms and intriguing iconography offer a window to the ancient Casas Grandes world. Today these ceramics are considered remarkable works of art, and several recent museum exhibits have displayed them from the perspective of art history. Secrets of Casas Grandes explores what the ceramics tell us about the people who made and used them—beyond their beauty as art objects—by examining their utilitarian and ritual functions. MIAC/Lab Home >

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