Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What do these pottery faces have in common?

These two faces are the subject of the latest research project that I am working on.

If you look at these faces - you will see some identical features. 1.) the nose has a bar or a "plug" shoved upwards causing the nose and face to look skewed. 2.) the right eye is "winking" showing discomfort and wrinkle lines. 3.) the mouth is shoved to one side in effect accentuating the look of discomfort. Now these are my terms, but I am sure that you can see each of these areas on the one face that matches perfectly with the other...What doesn't match is the type of pottery or the cultural affiliation between the two...

The one on the right came from the "Murray Garden" in Athens, PA over 100 years ago (was made approximately 500 years ago) and is considered the only one of it's kind. It was on a piece of "ProtoSusquehannock" pottery meaning it was made by the people who later developed into the culture we now define as Susquehannocks.As a result, the Murray Garden is one of those sites that can be considered archaeologically as "the birthing place" of the Susquehannock culture, and it is one of those riddles that I have been obsessed with finding the answers to...see earlier posts:
In 1914 Charles Wren discussed the faces on the pottery in the Murray Garden as follows:

He went on to explain the face that I show above in this way:

After reading Wren's piece here, it is hard not to think that the face wasn't created to depict this story that depicts the well known story that is a so identifiable to be of the Iroquois culture.

However, the matching face shown at the top of this post was found in a place where the Iroquois at least historically did not live - In fact the people that made that face are referred to as "Mississippian" which is a broad term used for the late mound builder cultures whose signature mounds are flat top mounds and truncated hills. This particular group lived between 1450 and 1700AD and they lived in Indiana.

 So how did these two pots signifying the same motifs and belief systems exist approximately at the same time yet so far apart?

This week I am traveling to Indiana to try to get some answers. Stay tuned~!

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