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At the site of Chavín da Huantar in the Andes, a cultural interest in linking the layers of the cosmos presents itself through the Lanzón, or “Great Lance.” The Lanzón, a monolithic sculpture situated at the heart of the Old Temple at Chavín de Huantar, was a point of reverence for the people of Chavín. Like Quetzalcoatl, from Mesoamerica, the Lanzón holds a cosmological significance; it acts as link between the upper and the lower worlds. The Lanzón acted as a conduit for the supernatural. The surface of the Lanzón communicates the unity between the celestial and terrestrial spheres. The Lanzón’s surface is adorned with a low relief carving of a human figure. Urton posits the body, human or animal, was used as a visual tool by Chavín artists to classify and communicate meaning1. The figure is depicted with a raised right arm and lowered left arm. The gesture signifies of cosmological unity and stands to emphasize the theme of ascent and descent through this point of transition2. Originally situated in the restricted confines of the Old Temple, viewing of the surface adornment would have been an intimate experience. The Lanzón, 4.5m (15’) in height, towers over the viewer penetrating both the earth below and the ceiling above its central form3. It can be said that appreciation of surface adornment in its entirety was intended for the omnipotent gods, and as such the Lanzón functioned link the terrestrial and celestial worlds through its duality in viewership.

Gary Utron, "The Body of Meaning in Chavín Art." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 29/30 (1996): 237-55.


Rebecca Stone, “Art of the Andes: from Chavín to Inca.” London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, (2012): 40.


Rebecca Stone, “Art of the Andes: from Chavín to Inca.” London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, (2012): 39-40.


Bibliography Aveni, Anthony F. "The Nazca Lines: Patterns in the Desert." Archaeology 39, no. 4 (1986): 32-39. Berdan, Frances. Aztec Imperial Strategies. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1996. Boone, Elizabeth Hill. "The Aztec Templo Mayor." Washington, DC (1987). Cohen-Aponte, Ananda. Pre-Columbian P Art & Architecture Lecture, Ithaca, New York, Nov. 15, 2016. Dean, Carolyn. "The Inka Married the Earth: Integrated Outcrops and the Making of Place." The Art Bulletin 89, no. 3 (2007): 502-518. Doyle, James, and Joanne Pillsbury. Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015 Guenter, Stanley. "The Tomb of K’inich Janaab Pakal: The Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque." Mesoweb Articles (2007): 1-63. Laughton, Tim. "Aztecs. London." The Burlington Magazine 145, no. 1200 (2003): 233-35. Miller, Mary E. The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec. Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2012. Nickel, Cheryl. "The Semiotics of Andean Terracing." Art Journal 42, no. 3 (1982): 200-03. doi: 10.2307/776578. Umberger, Emily. "Antiques, Revivals, and References to the past in Aztec Art." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 13 (1987). Utron, Gary. "The Body of Meaning in Chavín Art." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 29/30 Ut (1996): 237-255. "Sayhuite Stone: An Ancient Hydraulic Scale Model of The Inca Empire?" Amusing Planet. Accessed November 29, 2016. Schele, Linda. "Observations on the cross motif at Palenque." Green Robertson M (ed) Primera mesa redonda de Palenque. Pebble Beach, California (1974). Silverman, Helaine. "The Archaeological A Identification of an Ancient Peruvian Pilgrimage Center." World Archaeology 26, no. 1 (1994): 1-18. Stone, Rebecca R. The Art of the Andes: From Chavín to Inca. 3rd ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 2012.

Traversing the Cosmos through Cultures: Ascension and Descension in the Pre-Columbian Americas  
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