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mesoamerica jewelry

Page history last edited by edithg@u.washington.edu 11 years, 1 month ago

            The art of Mesoamerica lies in the production and craftsmanship of jewelry along with other visual representations such as pottery, metal, and headdress. A glimpse into my research is focused on the creation of jewelry within the Aztec, Mayan, and Olmec, the three civilizations are known as Mesoamerica. To better understand the word Mesoamerica I will give you a “visual” demonstration, it is a region that extends from central Mexico to Nicaragua. I have chosen to study and write about jewelry in the culture of the Mesoamerican people because my roots and heritage falls in that branch and section of history. I find it interesting how different cultures display their status and rank whether that be through tattoos, clothing, the amount of cattle one has, or the way jewelry is crafted. As my research has progressively grown into a form of greater knowledge I am anxious to share it with the rest of the class.

In our class setting we have come learn about many cultures and how they display their heritage, family lineage, and status. We have come to understand that they all display it in different ways, however they all demand visual attention and recognition. In my research of the Mesoamerica two of the three display their status through jewelry whether that be through a lip plug, earrings, and/or necklace every piece displays a significant story. How the jewelry is constructed is also a significant part of the story, the finest material was used to construct the chosen piece of jewelry. Although their options were small they were not limited, they often chose to construct their jewelry out of jade and of any stone or material that was of the same shade of green or blue. Materials available to them were feathers, a variety of stone such as jade, gold, and metal. Certain metals that are considered precious and valuable today were worthless and of no value to the people of Mesoamerica an example of such metal was gold “The acquisition of gold was one of the major aims of the Spanish conquest.” ( pg. 77 Aztec Art)

            The value of jewelry was based on the craftsmanship and the great detail given to it, the greater the story on the piece of jewelry the greater the value was given. The most elite ruler’s commission selected artists to work on precious stones such as greenstone, and alabaster to create a certain style and iconography of the fine piece.

            The Mesoamerican people included certain design on their jewelry just like the Hawaiian people in order to portray a specific symbolic meaning. The Hawaiian people used certain shapes and design to tell a story and they often included the design on clothes and they carried their personal story on their skin in the form of a tattoo. Symbols that were used on Mesoamerican jewelry included the human heart, sun, moon, and several other shapes that will be further discussed in my research paper. In many cultures you will find the consistent usage of a design.



Pasztory, Esther. Aztec Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1983. Print.

Henri, Stierlin. Art Of The Aztecs and its origins. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1982. Print.


here is a video of some art that I have seen thus far. Enjoy



Comments (3)

edithg@u.washington.edu said

at 10:44 pm on May 17, 2009

sorry i don't know how to work this thing, so I also posted up my notes as a doc. it's the same information but includes images = )

Mark Anthony said

at 10:51 pm on May 17, 2009

When you edit your work, just utilize the tools that are located at the top to change the format of your words; bold, italicized, large font, and to add pictures--to the right in the Navigator screen, there's an image uploader you can use to post pictures, etc.

Abby Mitchell said

at 12:57 pm on Jun 6, 2009

I loved learning about this gorgeous Mesoamerican jewelry! I found it so fascinating that while they were swimming in gold, the real value was in jade and other blue/green stones and that gold wasn't valued until the Spanish arrived - says a lot about exactly why we (humans) have valued various materials over others throughout time. Reminded me of the same issue arising in our class discussion of Hawaiian feather cloaks. Great job!

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