Temixwten Artifact: 45-WH-5-1281
Description: SAVAGE IS the only way to describe the Serpent on Side 1 of 45-WH-5-1281.
Here the changes in the long static iconography of the One-Eyed God seen in 45-WH-5-1477 and 45-WH-5-1710 have continued to the point that the Serpent figure fills and dominates the entire charm.
Even more than in 45-WH-5-1710, the Serpent has BECOME the One-Eyed God.
Some of the old One-Eyed God visual references remain -- for instance, the eye of the Serpent is formed by a snake, the mouth of the Serpent is formed by a white snake, and the face of the Serpent seems to be a flowing, jade green stream.
As with many pieces from Temixwten, the white snake is marked with the symbol of the X, the ancient sign of snakeskin and the snake, help give the serpent's mouth a fierce, sharp-toothed appearance.
But this piece differs from most of the pieces in The God That Man Forgot exhibit in a couple respects. One is that there are no visual references to the domesticated horse. There is, however, a long necked Chinese dragon on the other side.
The spirit of this piece is also visibly different. The God That Man Forgot exhibit has shown how Asian representations of the One-Eyed God slowly drifted over millennia toward stylized, urbane, even witty depictions of the diety.
Although 45-WH-5-1281 is visually sophisticated and very well executed, the spirit here is simply savage power. It is the blood sacrifice of Quetzalcoatl -- the feathered Serpent god of the Aztecs -- not the complex, intellectualized Dragon of the Asia.
Interestingly, Quetzalcoatl is sometimes -- although not always -- shown with a snake, or a white snake, for teeth, the same visualization seen in 45-WH-5-1281.
As with 45-WH-5-1182 and possibly 45-WH-5-1678, the imagery on 45-WH-5-1281 connects both back to the Old World AND forward to the New World, further establishing Temixwten as the "missing link" between the Chinese dragon and the Mexican serpent.
Onward to Mexico! It is believed the Feathered Serpent was first worshiped by the Aztecs about 100 years before the time of Christ, and by 600 AD veneration of the Serpent had spread throughout Mesoamerica.
By this chronology, about 2,400 years passed between the time when 45-WH-5-1281 came to Temixwten, and the the time when the Feathered Serpent came to Teotihuacan, 2,000 miles south of Temixwten in the Valley of Mexico.
At at that rate, veneration of the Serpent and the idea of the "ancestor in mouth" would have had to travel a little less than a mile a year to get from Temixwten to Teotihuacan, which entirely possible.
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45-WH-5-1281 is also a masterpiece of man made sythetic jade, combining the gorgeous greenish color of 45-WH-5-1182 with even finer white crystal glazing than seen in 45-WH-5-1678.
of 45-WH-5-1281 is apparently unfinished, but there is a long necked Chinese dragon.
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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 charm came to Temixwten late in the second by Salish wave of in-migration.
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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 apparently sculpted when leather hard and fired with a thick white crystal glaze englobement on parts of Side 1. The ceramic clay has been colored to closely immitate natural jade or nephrite.
Approximate Age: 2,500 years ago
Basis for Age Estimate: I base this age estimate on the fact that there are no Asian references on this Temixwten masterpiece. And even though the form of the One-Eyed God's iconography has been maintained, this piece feels very different from the increasingly stylized and urbane Asian made pieces like 45-WH-5-1415 and 45-WH-5-1629.
For these reasons, I think this piece was made in Asia by someone who had been to the New World and returned with first hand knowledge of the new spirit of the Serpent that was rising there. I estimate it dates to around 2,500 years ago.
Provenance: Collected at Temixwten by the property owner. Museum of the Salish Collection.