Pre-Columbian art refers to the artistic and cultural expressions developed in the various civilizations that existed in America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.
These civilizations include the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, Olmec, among others. Pre-Columbian art encompasses a wide range of forms of expression, such as sculpture, ceramics, painting, architecture and jewelry, and is characterized by its rich symbolism and connection with the cosmology and religious beliefs of these cultures.
Characteristics of pre-Columbian art:
- Abundance of symbolism: Pre-Columbian art is characterized by its extensive use of symbols representing religious, mythological and cosmogonic concepts of indigenous cultures.
- Stylish figuration: Representations of humans and animals in pre-Columbian art tend to be stylized and schematic, emphasizing the most distinctive characteristics of each form.
- Predominance of the three-dimensional: The sculpture in stone and in clay is one of the most outstanding forms of pre-Columbian art, and is characterized by its focus on the three-dimensional representation of objects and living beings.
- Use of bright colors: In painting and ceramics, pre-Columbian art uses a palette of bright and vibrant colors, achieved through the use of natural pigments and intricate decoration techniques.
- Representation of deities and supernatural beings: Divinities and mythological beings occupy a prominent place in pre-Columbian art, and their representation seeks to convey their power and relevance in the cosmology of each culture.
- Influence of nature: Pre-Columbian art shows a close relationship with nature and the elements of the environment, representing animals, plants and natural phenomena as an integral part of its symbolism.
- Made ornamental details: Both in architecture and jewelry, pre-Columbian art is characterized by the presence of intricate and elaborate ornamental details, which reflect the technical skill and dedication of the artists.
- Symmetric and balanced compositions: Many works of pre-Columbian art follow principles of symmetrical and balanced composition, creating a sense of harmony and visual order.
- Use of indigenous materials: Pre-Columbian civilizations mainly used indigenous materials, such as stone, clay, wood, metals and natural fabrics, in the creation of their works of art.
- Preservation of the cultural legacy: Pre-Columbian art is fundamental to understanding and appreciating the indigenous cultures that existed in the Americas before European colonization. Their study and preservation allow us to know the history, beliefs and worldviews of these peoples.
Importance of pre-Columbian art
Pre-Columbian art plays a fundamental role in understanding ancient American civilizations and their cultural legacy.
These artistic expressions allow us to delve into the religious beliefs, social practices and political structures of these cultures.
In addition, pre-Columbian art is a unique and original manifestation that reflects the identity and diversity of indigenous peoples.
Their study and appreciation contribute to preserving and appreciating America’s cultural heritage and recognizing the relevance of these cultures in the history of humanity.