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An Interconnected World? Evidence of Interaction in the Arts of Epiclassic Cacaxtla and Xochicalco, Mexico

Nagao, Debra

The Epiclassic period (AD 650-900), a time of major political and artistic changes, saw the rise of independent polities throughout Mesoamerica that sought to take advantage of the decline of Teotihuacan and to express their newly formed identities through public monuments of a highly eclectic nature, stemming from the extensive interaction of distant regions. Two of these centers in Central Mexico, Cacaxtla and Xochicalco, developed distinctive art styles expressed primarily in single media categories that prominently deploy elements from the Maya style, known from the faraway tropical lowlands, today southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. To date most art historical studies have focused on the analysis of Cacaxtla murals and Xochicalco sculpture, while often relying on sixteenth-century historical documents to interpret developments at these centers. Other media categories--elite sumptuary or ritual goods (greenstone masks, figurines, and pendant plaques; tecali vessels; obsidian eccentrics; worked and unworked shell; ceramic effigy vessels) and utilitarian trade goods (ceramics, obsidian)--can also shed light on Cacaxtla's and Xochicalco's distant contacts, while also revealing contextual patterns that suggest different agendas in forging distinctive identities in monumental artworks. References to Teotihuacan and Maya monuments, and to a lesser extent those from Oaxaca and Veracruz, suggest different strategies were employed in the discourse of identity formation at these two centers.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Pasztory, Esther
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 30, 2014