News from Temixwten: First positively-identified Neolithic Asian ceramic tool found in North America!
|Temixwten Artifact: 45-WH-5-1552
Description: THERE ARE many similarities between this charm and the previous charm in The God That Man Forgot exhibit.
Like 45-WH-5-1201, this charm has a faux crudeness that at first glance masks its sophistication, and like 45-WH-5-1201, this charm depicts the One-Eyed God with a crystal eye in the form of the White Dragon, albeit much smaller.
This greenish white dragon / horse appears to be wearing a bridle with straps that cross on its forehead, and white reins the fall as if the bridle was bitted. The white, drooping reins also have the look of the barbels depicted around the mouth of dragons in later times.
Perhaps the convention of depicting the dragon with barbels grew out of the older Neolithic visual convention of the bridled and reined dragon, the actually meaning of which had by then been forgotten.
Another similarity between 45-WH-5-1201 and 45-WH-5-1552 is that they are both made of ceramic stoneware, and both feature what may be the oldest surviving example of a fully vitrified glaze in man-made pottery, which heretofore was believed to have originated in Egypt, not China.
The naked ceramic material of 45-WH-5-1552 is a uniform dark green in color, possibly colored with chrome oxide. The surface appears rough and crudely shaped when you first look at it, but closer inspection reveals that the entire surface is stippled.
In some areas -- such as around the incised glazed White Dragon eye of the One-Eyed God, this stippling coalesces into intricate, seemingly woven patterns.
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LIKE ALL the ceramic artifacts included in The God That Man Forgot, this piece helps time the rise of the Salish in what we now call the Pacific Northwest, beginning 7,000 or more years ago.
Both C-dragon and pig dragon charms have been found at Temixwten, indicating 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 6,600 years ago, and then another influx during the early Dynastic Period in China, maybe 3,500 years ago, at the dawn of glazed ceramic stoneware in China and Northeast Asia.
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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.
Additionally, I believe this may be the oldest known use of celadon in a glaze -- for the head of the greenish white dragon that forms the one eye of god.
Technology: ceramic stoneware possible colored with chrome oxide, sculpted, stippled and incised when leather hard, then fired with a greenish-white part celadon glaze, which was subsequently incised.
Approximate Age: 5,500 years years ago, or contemporary with the so-called Charles or St. Mungo Culture Phase, which marks the beginning of the Salish explosion across much of what we now call the Pacific Northwest.
Basis for Age Estimate: I base this estimate on the similarity between this piece and 45-WH-5-1201, which appears to date from 5,500 years ago.
Provenance: Collected at Temixwten by the property owner. Museum of the Salish Collection.
Dragon and Snake: here a snake curves around to form the mouth and nose of the One-Eyed God, while a whitish crystal dragon / horse forms the eye of the larger diety.
Bridled Dragon / Horse Closeup: here the head and neck of a bridled dragon / horse curve around the larger figure. The dragon / horse is cracked on the left side at the eye, but otherwise complete. The dragon / horse’s bridle has crossed straps incised on on its forehead and its mouth is open. The barbels at the corners of the dragon’s mouth also serve as the rein lines for the horse’s bridle, while the dragon’s open mouth appears to be blowing a puff of crystal smoke.
Form Persists After The Meaning Has Been Forgotten: this painting from the Song Dynasty shows the dragon with barbels hanging from its snout, a convention of the dragon that is still commonly seen. From Temixwten artifact 45-WH-5-1552 it appears that this visual convention may have had it origin in the reins of the bridled dragon / horse like those frequently seen on artifacts at Temixwten from the time when the domesticated horse was the biggest news in the entire Neolithic world. By the Song Dynasty, though, more than 6,000 years had passed, and the Chinese themselves had forgotten the meaning of this visual convention, even though the form of the reins largely persisted in the barbels running down from the dragon's snout.
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