By Mary W. Helms

This quantity brings a clean point of view to the multicolored Cocl? ceramic wares excavated at Sitio Conte in vital Panama throughout the Thirties. The Cocl? tradition used to be a hierarchical and centralized society that flourished a couple of thousand years in the past. Many of those ceramic wares have been unearthed in caches and burials of elite figures. Cocl? artists embellished their ceramics with a mix of geometrical kinds and vigorous, image depictions of curious birds and beasts. Helms sees in those polychromes a semiotic code expressing sociological and cosmological ideas of the Cocl? tradition. person chapters discover chromatics, serpents, mammals, birds and chook, physique components and approaches, the tree of existence, and different topics. This quantity is handsomely illustrated with black-and-white and colour plates and dozens of line drawings.

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Skillfully crafted things are imbued by definition with Page 7 qualities of honor and morality expressed as aesthetics, and they are closely associated with public political-ideological activities and symbolism. Such goods are crafted by talented artisans whose exceptional abilities are universally believed to derive from artistic creative skills first evidenced and/or taught to humans by ancestral culture-hero/creators at the time of origins of human societal existence when the power of the creators' songs or dances created the dry land, or their skills as smiths or sculptors or drummers brought humans into existence (Helms 1993a:chap.

From Lothrop (1976:43).  17.  From Lothrop (1976:88).  18. Legged creature with serpent body form. From Lothrop (1976:103).  19.  From Lothrop (1976:55). Fig. 18 also portrays the serpent-like saurian with two long protrusions emanating from its chin. These bring to mind a Talamancan myth telling how Sibu, the creator, constructed the sky as his home. In the process he needed a vine to tie the house together (as traditional Talamancan houses are constructed). Lacking such a vine, he turned instead to a large serpent with great whiskers who dwelt in the east where the sun rises.

From Lothrop (1976:46). Often the order expressed in these depictions is accomplished by providing limbs and feet, tail and head crest, to a basic body form that is serpentine in nature. This basic serpentine form is distinguishable because it is identified by color contrasts that both isolate the serpentine form from appendages and identify the various other design units that compose the overall depiction and make it recognizable as a particular type of bird or beast. The serpent is virtually ubiquitous in Coclé ceramic designs, appearing either by itself or as the foundation unit of other types of creatures.

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