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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 Bird Pendant

Bird Pendant

Costa Rican Artist
100-500 (Early Classic)
42.1511
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Image for Belt Rattle with Bells

Belt Rattle with Bells

n.d.
2009.20.66
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Image for Pregnant Woman Effigy Bottle

Pregnant Woman Effigy Bottle

Moche Artist
AD 100-600
2009.20.116
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Image for Seated Female Figure

Seated Female Figure

Zacatecas Artist
AD 100-300 (Late Formative-Early Classic)
2009.20.195
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Image for Male Figure

Male Figure

n.d.
2009.20.114
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Image for Musician-Singer

Musician-Singer

Zacatecas Artist
100-300 CE
2009.20.194
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Image for Seated Male Effigy Vessel

Seated Male Effigy Vessel

Colima Artist
AD 100-900 (Classic)
2009.20.187
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Image for Tunic Border Piece

Tunic Border Piece

Nazca Artist
100-200 CE
2011.20.5
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Image for Gourd

Gourd

Moche Artist
AD 100-650 (Early Intermediate)
2009.20.272
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Image for Vulture Head Pendant

Vulture Head Pendant

Maya Artist
200-700 (Classic)
42.549
On view
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Image for Human Head Pendant

Human Head Pendant

Maya Artist
200-700 (Classic)
42.548
On view
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Image for Bone Object

Bone Object

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1214
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Image for Weaving Tool

Weaving Tool

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1215
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Image for Weaving Tool

Weaving Tool

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1216
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Image for Weaving Tool

Weaving Tool

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1217
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Image for Weaving Tool

Weaving Tool

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1218
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Image for Weaving Tool

Weaving Tool

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1219
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Image for Bird Plaque

Bird Plaque

Peruvian Artist
AD 200-1520 (?)
71.1220
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Image for Dish with Bean Imagery

Dish with Bean Imagery

Nazca Artist
200-300 CE (Early Intermediate Phases II-III)
2009.20.110
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Image for Stirrup-spout Bottle

Stirrup-spout Bottle

Nazca Artist
200-500 CE
2009.20.109
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Image for Human Effigy Ocarina

Human Effigy Ocarina

AD 200-500 (Period IV)
2009.20.92
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Image for Lidded Vessel

Lidded Vessel

Maya Artist
AD 250-550 (Early Classic)
2009.20.39
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Image for Face Plaque

Face Plaque

Teotihuacán Artist
AD 250-600 (Early Classic)
29.6
On view
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Image for Necklace

Necklace

Maya (?) Artist
AD 250-1521 (Classic-Postclassic)
2009.20.297
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Image for Mask

Mask

250-850 CE (?) (Classic (?))
2009.20.298
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Image for Figural Pendant

Figural Pendant

Maya Artist
AD 250-450 (Early Classic)
2009.20.263
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Image for Tubular Bead

Tubular Bead

Maya Artist
AD 250-850 (Classic)
2009.20.258
On view
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Image for Eccentric

Eccentric

AD 250-850 (Classic (?))
2009.20.235
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Image for Eccentric

Eccentric

AD 250-850 (Classic (?))
2009.20.224
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Image for Hacha

Hacha

Maya Artist
AD 250-850 (?) (Classic (?))
2009.20.203
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Image for Figural Pendant

Figural Pendant

Maya Artist
AD 250-450 (Early Classic)
2009.20.232
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Image for Mask with Pendant Beads

Mask with Pendant Beads

AD 250-850 (Classic (?))
2009.20.123
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