Latin Art

Pre-Colombian Mantel, Siguas Culture, 2nd-7th Century AD

Long before the Inka civilization, some 11,500 years before, plant fibers were woven to produce basketry by indigenous people of Peru. Weaving of fabrics using wool from camelids, Alpaca, Vicuna and Llama, and cotton dates back more than 5000 years.

Techniques employed by the ancient cultures exhibited almost all of the known types of weavings and were considered more important to the ancient Andean peoples than was silver or gold. Wealth wasSisuas Culture  2nd-7th Century A.D. shown in the numbers of textiles owned by the ruling classes. Vibrant natural colors derived from insects, plants, and soils, produced stunning abstractions representing religious and cultural beliefs.

Because of the dry arid conditions along the coast of Peru, many textiles used to wrap mummies have survived for up to 3000 years, from the Paracas culture (800 BC to 100 BC) right through the Inka Empire (1438 -1533).

The better known cultures that developed before the Inka included the Nazca (famous for the enormous Nazca Lines that cover miles of the desert representing birds, animals, dieties, and geometric images that are only visible from above), the Chavin (that lived at the same time as Paracas), Moche, Chimu, Chincha, and Lambayeque.

All of them had unique styles and all of them preserved their dead through mummification, heavily wrapped, sometimes with hundreds of textiles to represent their significance.

Tremendous research over the last century has unfolded numerous mysteries about the ancient Peruvian cultures and sub cultures and many more have been recently discovered.

Several years ago, I happened upon a small collection of what was assumed to be Pre-Colombian textiles. . There were some very long woven straps with geometric designs in shades of brown, red, and gold, what appears to be a headband, and a large piece of material that was formed from 25 different long straps. After 2 plus hours in the Amano Museum of Textiles in Lima, I realized the big piece is called a mantle, or shawl and was a common textile used to wrap mummies.

Upon returning home, I sent images of my pieces to the Amano Museum and was beyond pleasantly surprised to learn my textiles are from the Siguas culture, which spanned almost 1200 years and was located in Southern Peru, in the Arequipa Valley, near Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world (12,507 feet) and also the largest lake in South America. The Siguas culture was only discovered in the late 1980’s and was obviously closely tied to the Nazca. There were three periods of the Siguas and mine are most likely the last, which was from about 100 AD to 700 AD, so my textiles are at least 1300 years old. The condition is beyond remarkable, with fresh colors and almost no deterioration. Numerous animals, birds, symbols, people, and designs are incorporated into this luscious, precious item.

The Amano Museum has one example of multiple straps sewn together to form a tunic, but mine was obviously made from a collection of straps to create a mantle.

Mantle, Camelid fibers
Natural Dyes
Siguas culture, Nazca Region,
100-700 AD
62 inches by 51 inches.

Diego Rivera, Lithograph, Los abusos de los conquistadores, 1931


Image may contain: 1 person, drawing

The reintroduction of fresco painting into modern art and architecture helped establish Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estasnislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acost y Rodriguez, better known as Diego Rivera (1886-1957), as the most important Mexican artist of the 20th century.
After studies at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City from 1898 to 1907, he moved to Europe, where after a short stay in Madrid, moved to Paris to join the growing list of artists in the School of Paris. After experimenting with the newly formed Cubism movement, he rather embraced the Post-Impressionism movement of simple forms and patches of color reflected by Paul Cezanne’s work.
His travels to Italy in 1920 allowed him to study Renaissance frescoes, which quickly became his preferred medium and propelled him to become the leader of Mexico’s Muralist Movement between 1922 and 1930. In September of 1930, he accepted a lcommission to paint a mural for the City Club of San Francisco and a fresco for the California School of Fine Art (later relocated to San Francisco Art Institute).
In 1931, he accepted an assignment to illustrate a book called Mexico: a study of two America’s, by Stuart Chase. This lithograph from an illustration in that book, titled “Los abusos de los conquistadores”, was a recurring theme in his murals. Being a lifelong atheist and a Communist, he frequently portrayed the exploiters and the exploited along with Catholic priests in the same murals.
According to Sotheby’s Latin American Art Department, this high quality lithograph on the same rice paper Diego used, was printed by Galeria Misrachi during Rivera’s life and marketed among “the Frida Kahlo Collection”.  The original is located in the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City.  

19 x 12.5 inches

48.26 x 31.75 cm


Manner of and Signed Francisco Zuniga, Bronze Woman, 1965

This bronze sculpture is signed Francisco Zuniga (Mexican 1912-1988), dated 1965, and is numbered III/X.  It is from the collection of Herb Solow, of Star Trek fame, who purportedly acquired it directly from the artist.  It is noted in the complete raisonne of Zuniga where it is labeled a fake.  It is a beautiful and impressive piece.

13.5 x 13 x 9.5 in

34.3 x 33 x 24.1 cm


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