News from Temixwten: First positively-identified Neolithic Asian ceramic tool found in North America!
|Temixwten Artifact: 45-WH-5-1556
Description: LIKE ALL the exceptionally fine pieces in The God That Man Forgot exhibit, this Asian-made ceramic charm combines many scenes and faces.
On Side 1, it is a domesticated horse that is wearing an exceptionally archaic bridle made of what looks like woven and braided leather thongs. Tipped sideways slightly, and the horse reveals two Asian eyes. Turned around, it becomes One-Eyed God with a bridle.
This is an interesting detail suggesting that the domesticated horse was such a power in Neolithic Asia that it began to merge with the primary deities of the Serpent and the One-Eyed God. In fact (as the photo at right shows), Hongshan pig dragons were portrayed wearing bridles (perhaps as a retrofit?).
Until now, no image was thought to survive of the oldest Neolithic Asian horse tack, but the loose leather thong macrame head net pictured on Side 1 of Temixwten artifact 45-WH-5-1556 is consistent with what is known of early horse people like the Botai in what is now Kazakhstan.
Research by Sandra Olsen of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History indicates that the Neolithic Botai horse people were heavily involved in leather thong production, like what appears to make up the horse's bridle in 45-WH-5-1556.
Based on several factors, including indications of bit wear of the teeth of Botai horse skelletons, lan Outram of the University of Exeter in England has estimated that the Botai had domesticated horses nearly 6,000 years ago, and they were not the first. In 2012, research led by Alessandro Achilli, a geneticist at the University of Pavia in Italy, found that the horse was domesticated at least 18 different times in different places, beginning about 10,000 years ago.
The contemporary power of the domesticated horse for Neolithic Asia is reflected in eight artifacts included in The God That Man Forgot exhibit, several of which of which, such as 45-WH-5-1476, show the emblems of the deity and domestication merging as the most powerful things conceivable to Neolithic man.
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HERE WE see that the first Neolithic horse bridles were actually a kind of knotted rawhide head net with proto-Chinese macrame gatherings that might be called "Oracle Bone Macrame."
Proto-Chinese macrame knots are used here instead of metal rings and rivets to join multiple attachments (e.g., side pieces of bridle) to a common point, which may reveal the origins of now highly formalized ornamental Chinese macrame -- as a point of multiple attachment for working equipment like a horse bridle.
The Chinese macrame head net / bridle on this horse is purely utilitarian and so loosely structured you might almost call it free-form. The Chinese macrame bridle on the horse head on 45-WH-5-1491 is similarly loose, while the macrame on 45-WH-5-1476 is much more formalized and includes what is today called the God's Eye pattern... over the eye of the One-Eyed God!
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ANOTHER REVEALING detail in the horse's tack on 45-WH-5-1476: this bridle does not have a bit.
Instead it has an upper lip band, apparently reinforced with something hard and/or sharp, a peculiar archaic tack detail that is also true of most of the Neolithic Asian horses in The God That Man Forgot exhibit.
The best detail of the Neolithic upper lip band comes from another Temixwten blade not included here, 45-WH-5-1620, which clearly shows a heavy upper lip band that has been drilled with holes in descending diameter as they approach the tip of the horse's nose. This band could have been made of heavy leather or horn or bone or perhaps a soft metal like copper.
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SIDE 2 of 45-WH-5-1556 reveals that the naked underlying material is gray and fine grained. The surface is rust colored at the top of Side 2, while the bottom has a greenish surface.
There is a small incised head of an angry-looking dragon in the greenish area, and a thin, chained line laying on top of the division between the naked clay and the greenish area at the bottom.
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I BELIEVE this charm is manmade ceramic, not natural stone, for several reasons.
First, the detail in the woven horse tack is exceptionally fine for hard stone carving with stone tools, suggesting that it was carved when the piece was leather hard clay, before firing.
Second, the metalic bronze-colored circle on Side 1 that makes the eye of the large horse and One-Eyed God is on top of the carved macrame weave, as pictured in the detail at right.
The bronze-colored metal effect visible here can be created with metal glazing, another primitive proto-glazing technique from the dawn of stoneware ceramics. In fact, a recipe of manganese dioxide in a borax- or lead-based frit with a dash of rutile at cone 6 will still produce a similar looking result today.
Third, the apparently rough, natural areas of the piece are actually covered with a pattern of fine stippling like 45-WH-5-1552, which is plainly ceramic with its celadon glazed dragon / horse head.
Fourth, the thin, chained line laying on top of Side 2 indicates some sort of ceramic englobement technique.
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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.
I believe Temixwten artifact 45-WH-5-1556 is the oldest known image of the domesticated horse anywhere in the world. This is also the world's oldest known image of Chinese macrame.
Technology: ceramic stoneware apparently incised when leather hard, proto-glazed and fired. Side 1 is appearently unglazed except for a bronze-colored circle. Side 2 has an almost thread-like sculptural slip in the form of a snake, and areas apparently washed with chrome oxide (to produce the green on Side 2) and iron oxide (to produce the rusty red).
Approximate Age: 6,000 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 age estimate on the appearance of both the Chinese dragon and the domesticated horse with a bitless bridle on this piece. Since the big wave of horse domestication occurred in Northeast Asia about 7,000 year ago, and the bit appeared there about 5,600 years ago, this piece must date from the approximately 1,400 year period in between.
Because there is no evidence that ceramic stoneware was ever produced anywhere in the New World by Native Americans, I believe this blade was made in Neolithic Asia and carried into the New World by Paleo-Indian immigrants.
Provenance: Collected at Temixwten by the property owner. Museum of the Salish Collection.
Archaic Chinese Macrame Bridle: this late Neolithic Asian-made horse head charm is adorned with an archaic Chinese macrame bridle that uses an upper lip band, not a bit, to control the horse. Dating to approximately 6,000 years ago, this is the oldest known image of the domesticated horse in the world.
Fireball Eye: an open-mouthed dragon curves around the upper left corner of this charm to form the nose and breath the fireball eye of the One-Eyed God.
Many Faces And Scenes: many small faces and scenes are hidden on this Asian-made ceramic charm. Here we see two hidden minatures -- a golden, fire-breathing Chinese dragon (upper right) and a galloping horse with a golden saddle that is also the head of a golden snake running down the horse’s back and tail -- in this isolated detail from the proto-glazed eye of the One-Eyed God on Side 1.
Bridled Pig Dragon: although most of the decoration is worn off, this Hongshan pig dragon was bridled with a nose band just above the slit mouth at right, and rein lines running back to the smaller hole. There is a yellow / white snake on the pig dragon’s head rrunning up to the point. The eye of the pig dragon is comprised to two concentric circles: a dim green circle and another around it. Over this spirals a dramatic, enclircling white dragon. All of these motifs -- the bridled dragon, the white snake on the head of the dragon, and the white dragon forming the eye of god -- are found on many artifacts from Temixwten, the ancient Salish Indian village near Vancouver, BC., Canada, as are pig dragons.
Horse With Asian Eyes: tipped sideways slightly, and Side 1 reveals a horse with two distinctly Asian eyes.
Revealing: Side 2 of 45-WH-5-1556 reveals that the naked underlying material is gray and fine grained. The surface is rust colored at the top of Side 2, while the bottom has a greenish surface. There is a small incised head of an angry-looking dragon in the greenish area, and a thin, chained line impossibly laying on top of the division between the naked clay and the greenish area at the bottom.
The Battle Standard of Ur: the second oldest image of the domesticated horse comes from the Battle Standard of Ur, and Sumerian artifact excavated at the site of ancient Ur south of modern-day Bagdad, Iraq, that dates to about 4,600 years ago. Temixwten artifact 45-WH-5-1556 -- and several other pieces from Temixwten bearing images of domesticated horses wearing archaic knotted rawhide bridles with a nose band but no bit -- are at least a thousand years older, maybe more.
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