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Ancient Americas

In 1911, Henry Walters purchased almost 100 gold artifacts from the Chiriqui region of western Panama, creating a core collection of ancient American art. Now strengthened by long-term loans and generous gifts from private collectors, the Ancient American collection features exceptional works of art from Central and South America, including masterpieces from the Mesoamerican Olmec, Aztec, and Maya cultures, as well as the Moche and Inca peoples of eastern South America.

The artworks revolve around a core set of themes, including agricultural fertility, the role of the ruler in forging a bond between the natural and supernatural realms, and the practice of shamanism, which included the ritual of uniting with an animal spirit.

Most of the objects, made of gold, jade, turquoise, shell, or clay, were found in tombs, intended to equip the deceased for his journey to the next world. The ancient American art collection includes extraordinary sculptures, masks, game objects, figurative and painted vases, as well as gold jewelry and ritual works. The installation is especially strong in objects from Mesoamerica (including present-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, the Intermediate Area of Central America and northern Colombia), and the Andean civilizations of Ecuador and Peru. The collection provides a comprehensive overview of the enormous variety of artistic expression from these regions.

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Image for Male Figure

Male Figure

n.d. (Late Preclassic-Early Classic (?))
2009.20.300
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Image for Human Effigy Flute

Human Effigy Flute

Colima Artist
200 BC-AD 300 (Late Formative-Early Classic)
2009.20.296
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Image for Fisherman Vessel

Fisherman Vessel

Nazca Artist
200 BCE-600 CE
48.2865
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Image for Seated Male with Trophy Heads

Seated Male with Trophy Heads

Colima Artist
100 BCE-300 CE (Comala Phase)
2009.20.10
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Image for Seated Male

Seated Male

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300 (Comala Phase)
2009.20.13
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Image for Seated Figure

Seated Figure

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300 (Comala Phase)
2009.20.16
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Image for Mother and Child

Mother and Child

Jalisco Artist
100 BC-AD 200
2009.20.15
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Image for Dog Effigy Vessel

Dog Effigy Vessel

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.63
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Image for Seated Male Figure

Seated Male Figure

Arenal Artist
100 BC-AD 200 (Late Formative-Early Classic)
2009.20.58
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Image for Dwarf-shaman Effigy Vessel

Dwarf-shaman Effigy Vessel

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300 (?) (Comala Phase (?))
2009.20.54
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Image for Seated Female Figure

Seated Female Figure

100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.53
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Image for Dog Effigy

Dog Effigy

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.51
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Image for Human Effigy Pendant

Human Effigy Pendant

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Image for Human Effigy Pendant

Human Effigy Pendant

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Image for Nose Ornament

Nose Ornament

n.d.
2009.20.69
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Image for Pectoral

Pectoral

n.d.
2009.20.70
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Image for Tubular Bead Necklace and Emerald Pendant

Tubular Bead Necklace and Emerald Pendant

Quimbaya (?) Artist
100 BC-AD 1000
2009.20.75
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Image for Ornament

Ornament

Moche Artist
100 BC- AD 600 (Early Intermediate)
2009.20.71
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Image for Dog Effigy Vessel

Dog Effigy Vessel

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.178
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Image for Ballgame Performer

Ballgame Performer

100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.134
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Image for Ballgame Performer

Ballgame Performer

100 BCE-300 CE
2009.20.133
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Image for Dwarf Effigy (Head Fragment)

Dwarf Effigy (Head Fragment)

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300 (Comala Phase)
2009.20.107
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Image for Conjoined Man and Woman (Curing Ritual Narrative)

Conjoined Man and Woman (Curing Ritual Narrative)

Jalisco Artist
100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.149
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Image for Panel

Panel

Peruvian Artist
100 BCE-300 CE
2011.20.9
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Image for Vessel in the form of a seated man

Vessel in the form of a seated man

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300 (Comala Phase)
2009.20.289
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Image for Shaman (?) Effigy Figure

Shaman (?) Effigy Figure

n.d.
2009.20.290
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Image for Carrying Bag

Carrying Bag

Peruvian Artist
100 BCE-300 CE
2011.20.3
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Image for Seated Figure

Seated Figure

Colima Artist
100 BC-AD 300
2009.20.212
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Image for Avian "Axe god" Pendant

Avian "Axe god" Pendant

n.d.
2009.20.256
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Image for Tubular Pendant Bead

Tubular Pendant Bead

AD 1-500 (?) (Period IV)
2009.20.238
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Image for Avian "Axe god" Pendant

Avian "Axe god" Pendant

n.d.
2009.20.257
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Image for Tripod Dish

Tripod Dish

AD 1-500 (Period IV)
2009.20.208
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