Temixwten Artifact: 45-WH-5-1710
Description: CHANGE IS written on the face of this fascinating Asian-made ceramic charm.
All the familiar One-Eyed God figurations are seen in this extremely complex, two-sided piece, but the emphasis has changed, and there is a dramatic new development.
Followng the domestication of the horse, the iconography of the One-Eyed God seems to have remained relatively unchanged for several thousand years -- judging by the evolution in horse tack shown on numerous artifacts from Temixwten artifacts 45-WH-5-1556 to 45-WH-5-1476, 45-WH-5-1201 and 45-WH-5-1632 -- but this Asian-madeTemixwten masterpiece casts all that aside.
The first thing you notice here is the growing prominence of both the Serpent, and the stacked Serpent head motif already seen in 45-WH-5-1632. As in another charm in The God That Man Forgot exhibit, 45-WH-5-1477, the Serpent has become the focal point and most visually prominent visual part of the piece.
Here the two largest figures are the heads of two bridled Serpents: a toothed Serpent (toothy muzzle on the left) on top of a long-snouted Chinese dragon that is wearing an elaborate, almost regal woven macrame bridle that includes what apears to be a bit at the corner of the lower reptile's mouth.
Nested inside the top serpent is a THIRD Serpent, which in turn has a fourth, smaller dragon its nose that is breathing out red fire that forms the one sighted eye of the larger One-Eyed God.
Although somewhat damaged, the One-Eyed God's mouth is formed by the elaborately woven cheek piece of the Top Serpent's bridle (with a diamond-shaped ornamental fitting, and possibly fringe). Further down, the lushely woven macrame bridle of the bottom Serpent doubles as the watery beard of the One-Eyed God.
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FIGURATIVELY, the most dramatic development evident in this piece is the appearance of two small human faces, one at the back of each large Serpent head, so that just as the Serpents are stacked, so too are the little human faces.
The top face has an Asian eye and looks fierce and resolute, while the bottom one has a round Caucasian eye and facial tattooing like the Ainu, and looks dismayed.
The idea of stacking heads and faces of creatures and men would later become a central, formulaic part of Northwest Coast Indian art seen most prominently in the region's famous totem poles.
Artistically, the fore-shortening evident here in the faces of the two dragons which are looking straight at the viewer (third photo at right) is extremely advanced, even modern.
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FROM A TECHNOLOGICAL strandpoint, the most dramatic development
in this charm is the appearance of fully vitrified colored glazing, which marks the beginning of the modern ceramic era.
Although other charms in The God That Man Forgot exhibit crystal glazing like 45-WH-5-1201, some forms of englobement like 45-WH-5-1691 and other proto-glazing techniques, 45-WH-5-1710 is the first piece in this exhibit which features glossy colors -- red, black and green -- which are particulaly evident in the two stacked human faces (photo at right).
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ALTHOUGH apparently much simplier, Side 2
of 45-WH-5-1710 features another departure from the norm. It appears to show the head of a fierce animal in profile. The animal has a black nose and bared teeth, suggesting a bear or perhaps a dog.
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LIKE ALL the ceramic artifacts from Temixwten, this piece helps time the rise of the Salish in what we now call the Pacific Northwest, beginning 7,000 or more years ago.
A Temixwten charm in the form of a C-dragon -- complete with the "ancestor in mouth" motif -- indicates that the Salish migrations out of Asia to the Pacific Northwest began before the domestication of the horse became a huge, world changing development.
However, based on the evidence at Temixwten, it apears that there was a much bigger influx of immigrants to Temixwten after the domestication of the horse, maybe 6,000 years ago, and then another influx during the early Dynastic Period in China, maybe 3,000 years ago, at the dawn of glazed ceramic stoneware in China and Northeast Asia. This correlates to the so-called Charles or St. Mungo Culture Phase when the Salish expanded and conquered most of the Pacific Northwest, as well as the subsesquent Locarno Beach Culture Phase observed at Salish sites in British Columbia.
The thousands of Asian-made charms and other artifacts found at Temixwten clearly demonstrate that the Salish had numbers at the time they exploded on the North American scene, but they also had superior technology.
The thing that makes this kind of ceramic tool exceptional are its edges, both their number and their sharpness. It is possible to produce a ceramic stone blade that is significantly sharper than almost any natural stone blade, except volcanic glass.
I believe this piece dates to near the end of the last big Paleo-Indian migration to Temixwten from Asia during the early Dynastic Period in China.
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NOTE: Because the Chinese apparently do not possess any stoneware from the earliest lithic phase of their long and glorious history of ceramic manufacture (namely from the very beginning when stoneware was an exciting new material for making stone tools), I believe that the Asian-made ceramic pieces in the Museum of the Salish collection are the oldest Chinese ceramic stoneware artifacts ever found anywhere in the world, including China.
Technology: ceramic stoneware sculpted when leather hard, glazed and fired.
Approximate Age: 3,000 years ago
Basis for Age Estimate: I base this age estimate on the appearance on this piece of both a bitted horse and fully vitrified ceramic glazing, both of which developed around 3,500 years ago in Northeast Asia. Because of the extremely high level of this piece by every measure artistically, I date it to late Shang Dynasty, perhaps 3,000 years ago.
Provenance: Collected at Temixwten by the property owner. Museum of the Salish Collection.
How Many Serpents Do You See?: Side 1 of this stunning Asian-made ceramic charm features the heads of at least FOUR serpents. Two large serpent heads are stacked one on top of the other (their snouts to the viewer’s left). The third Serpent is looking straight at the view out of the top middle, and the fourth Serpent is the smaller dragon on its nose, which is also looking straight at the viewer, and breathing red fire. The use of fore-shortening in the faces of the last two dragons is extremely advanced, even modern. At the back of each large Serpent head there are two small stacked human faces. The top human face has an Asian eye and a dramatically fierce expression. The bottom face has a round Caucasian eye, what could be facial tattooing like the Ainu, and an open-mouthed look of dismay. Glazing is evident on this piece, confirming that it is man made ceramic, not natural stone.
Two Faces, One Asian, One Caucasian: on the back of the two serpent heads on this side of the charm, two small, distinctly different human faces are stacked one on top of another. The top one has an Asian eye and looks fierce and resolute, while the bottom one has a round Caucasian eye and facial tattooing like the Ainu, and looks dismayed. The glossy red, black and green surface coloring that still adheres to human faces indicates that this piece is man made ceramic, not natural stone.
Lookin’ At Ya: Here the One-Eyed God in the form of a one-eyed dragon looks straight in the viewer’s eyes. The larger one-eyed dragon has a smaller dragon on ITS nose that is also looking straight at the viewer, and breathing out red fire that forms the eye of the One-Eyed God, as depicted on numerous artifacts from Temixwten. The artistic command of fore-shortening evident here in the faces of the two dragons which looking straight at the viewer is extremely advanced, even modern, in its execution.
Bottom Serpent: the serpent on the bottom appears to be a dragon / horse because of the well-defined ears and muzzle. It is wearing an ornate and archaic woven harness without a bit...
Fierce: Side 2 of this charm features another departure from the norm. It appears to show the head of a fierce animal in profile. The animal has a black nose and bared teeth, suggesting a dog or a bear.