The Jaguar Within: Shamanic Trance in Ancient Central and South American Art

The Jaguar Within: Shamanic Trance in Ancient Central and South American Art

by Rebecca R. Stone

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Overview

Shamanism—the practice of entering a trance state to experience visions of a reality beyond the ordinary and to gain esoteric knowledge—has been an important part of life for indigenous societies throughout the Americas from prehistoric times until the present. Much has been written about shamanism in both scholarly and popular literature, but few authors have linked it to another significant visual realm—art. In this pioneering study, Rebecca R. Stone considers how deep familiarity with, and profound respect for, the extra-ordinary visionary experiences of shamanism profoundly affected the artistic output of indigenous cultures in Central and South America before the European invasions of the sixteenth century.

Using ethnographic accounts of shamanic trance experiences, Stone defines a core set of trance vision characteristics, including enhanced senses, ego dissolution, bodily distortions, flying, spinning and undulating sensations, synaesthesia, and physical transformation from the human self into animal and other states of being. Stone then traces these visionary characteristics in ancient artworks from Costa Rica and Peru. She makes a convincing case that these works, especially those of the Moche, depict shamans in a trance state or else convey the perceptual experience of visions by creating deliberately chaotic and distorted conglomerations of partial, inverted, and incoherent images.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292726260
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Series: Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

REBECCA R. STONE is Masse-Martin/NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities (2010–2014), Associate Professor in the Art History Department, and Faculty Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas in the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has also published Seeing with New Eyes: Highlights of the Michael C. Carlos Museum Collection of Art of the Ancient Americas, Art of the Andes from Chavín to Inca, and To Weave for the Sun: Ancient Andean Textiles.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. General Recurrent Themes in the Phenomenology of Visions
  • Chapter 2. The Common Perceptual Phenomena and Stages of the Visionary Experience
  • Chapter 3. Visions and Shamanizing: The Intermediary Role, Anomalousness, Control, and Balance
  • Chapter 4. Embodying the Shaman in Trance: Embracing Creative Ambiguity
  • Chapter 5. Shamanic Embodiment in Ancient Costa Rican Art I: At the Human End and the Balance Point of the Flux Continuum
  • Chapter 6. Shamanic Embodiment in Ancient Costa Rican Art II: Toward the Animal End and Beyond the Flux Continuum
  • Chapter 7. Shamanic Embodiment in Ancient Central Andean Art I: Toward the Human End and the Balance Point of the Flux Continuum
  • Chapter 8. Shamanic Embodiment in Ancient Central Andean Art II: Toward the Animal End and Beyond the Flux Continuum
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

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