The Legacy of Incan Pottery and Art
However, outside of the marvel that is Machu Picchu, the major ruins left behind after the near extinction of the Incas at the hands of the explorer Pizarro, Incan art is the most recognizable trace left to us of their remarkable foresight and skills.
The first tribe in the
Americas to develop planting
cycles for agriculture, the scientific
breeding of plants
and some truly amazing and unusual architecture,
they are also known
for the creation of beautiful
and durable art in the form of:
Unlike tribes found in
the Amazon basin,
the Incan art form of pottery was made with considerable skill.
Experts believing that they were perhaps the first people to use something resembling a pottery wheel to create their pottery.
is hard finished, with every trace of their construction
the finished product.
The surface resembles glazed work of today, but is thought to be hand polished, and each piece shows signs of the clay having been chosen for the exact use the pieces were intended for.
Thicker, denser clay was used for the larger ceremonial pots and
plates, while others were made of more delicate material, resembling
Keep in mind that no evidence has been found that they had ever used anything resembling a kiln, or that the clay was ever heated in any way (for more detailed info on Inca Pottery, click here).
In the original excavation of Machu Picchu certain artifacts were examined and closely scrutinized.
The archaeologists gave special attention to the more stylized jars, bowls, and plates. These appeared to be decorated with depictions of the Incan art representations of their God.
The British experts involved in this initial project determined that these objects were obviously meant for ritual use.
Other pieces that bore crosshatched designs and seamlessly attached
handles were meant to mimic the less durable baskets of the region.
Sadly, it was found that very little of the similarly constructed idols and other religious materials made of metal or clay had survived in any condition at all.
It was theorized that Pizarro and his men had probably melted down anything made with precious gold or silver, and probably broke the other symbols of the Incan Gods, out of fear or a wish to intimidate.
Their likenesses continue on, however, in the carvings that are everywhere in Machu Picchu, and the surviving descendants now honor those same gods in their modern art works today.
The Incas took control over many cultures that had deep roots stretching far back beyond the Inca Culture itself.
As the Inca Empire
grew, the art of the various previous cultures was absorbed and became
an influence in what the Incas themselves were doing.
As a fairly recent civilization in Peru's history, the Incas therefore were drawing from a cultural art background going back thousands of years.
To understand Inca Art and its influences, it is almost essential to examine the sources of their art - the Chaving, Moche, Nasca, Chimu, Tiwanaku, and Wari were a few - and the best way to acquire this information is by buying the book Art of the Andes: From Chavín to Inca.
Incan art carries on the traditions of the pottery, jewelry and weaving
that their ancestors did.
In museums throughout Peru you can see the rescued originals, and purchase the restored patterns in modern materials.
Even the metalsmithing of their ancestors has been resumed, and you can find men and women everywhere creating the amazing rope chains of unbroken metal and handcrafted metal disks everywhere.
Nothing was ever written down, but apparently the mysteries of creation live on in their descendants.