Page:The American Indian.djvu/109

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Aleutian baskets; yet, if there is a fundamental ceramic container concept in the New World, it is that of the globular cooking pot. The strong claims for the recognition of this form appear when we examine the animal-like vessels of Central America and the lower Mississippi in which we usually see the globular part with ornamental appendages.


Decorations of pottery fall into two groups, those produced by secondary modeling, and true designs. The former is a prominent feature in Peru, Colombia, Central America, the lower Mississippi, and eastern Brazil. Elsewhere it is relatively infrequent, the preference being given to painted or incised designs. The secondary modeling of the so-called Chiriqui pottery from Panama has been carefully studied by MacCurdy[1] who finds that practically all consists of efforts to represent the armadillo and the alligator. Von den Steinen has given an illuminating discussion of animal forms in eastern Brazil, in some cases so reduced by conventionalization as to appear symbolic.[2] A somewhat similar study has been made of lower Mississippi pottery,[3] but without the help of the makers, the specimens being prehistoric. In Colombia we find frog and monkey-like creatures represented as peeping over the rims of jars, but it is in Peru that ceramic modeling reaches its highest level. Here, we not only have animals and natural objects faithfully represented, but human heads so executed as to suggest their being portrait jars.

Painted and incised ceramic decorations tend to be geometric and often closely parallel textile designs, to be discussed under the next head. We shall, therefore, defer their discussion until the whole subject of design has been considered.

  1. MacCurdy, 1911. I.
  2. Von den Steinen, 1897. I, p. 264.
  3. Holmes, 1903. I.