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Visualizing the Sacred

Cosmic Visions, Regionalism, and the Art of the Mississippian World

Edited by George E. Lankford, F. Kent Reilly III, and James F. Garber

Publication Year: 2011

The prehistoric native peoples of the Mississippi River Valley and other areas of the Eastern Woodlands of the United States shared a complex set of symbols and motifs that constituted one of the greatest artistic traditions of the pre-Columbian Americas. Traditionally known as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, these artifacts of copper, shell, stone, clay, and wood were the subject of the groundbreaking 2007 book Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms: Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography, which presented a major reconstruction of the rituals, cosmology, ideology, and political structures of the Mississippian peoples. Visualizing the Sacred advances the study of Mississippian iconography by delving into the regional variations within what is now known as the Mississippian Iconographic Interaction Sphere (MIIS). Bringing archaeological, ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and iconographic perspectives to the analysis of Mississippian art, contributors from several disciplines discuss variations in symbols and motifs among major sites and regions across a wide span of time and also consider what visual symbols reveal about elite status in diverse political environments. These findings represent the first formal identification of style regions within the Mississippian Iconographic Interaction Sphere and call for a new understanding of the MIIS as a network of localized, yet interrelated religious systems that experienced both continuity and change over time.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies


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pp. 8-10


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pp. 11-11


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pp. 12-19

PART ONE. General Studies

Chapter One. Regional Approaches to Iconographic Art by George E. Lankford

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pp. 22-36

Chapter Two. The Cosmology of the Osage: The Star People and Their Universe by James R. Duncan

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pp. 37-53

PART TWO. Regional Studies: Middle Mississippi Valley

Chapter Three. The Regional Culture Signature of the Braden Art Style by James A. Brown

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pp. 56-82

Chapter Four. Early Manifestations of Mississippian Iconography in Middle Mississippi Valley Rock-Art by Carol Diaz-Granados

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pp. 83-115

PART THREE. Regional Studies: Lower Mississippi Valley

Chapter Five. Mississippian Ceramic Art in the Lower Mississippi Valley: A Thematic Overview by David H. Dye

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pp. 118-136

Chapter Six. The Great Serpent in the Lower Mississippi Valley by F. Kent Reilly III

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pp. 137-153

PART FOUR. Regional Studies: Cumberland Valley

Chapter Seven. Iconography of the Thruston Tablet by Vincas P. Steponaitis, Vernon James Knight, Jr., George E. Lankford, Robert V. Sharp, and David H. Dye

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pp. 156-195

Chapter Eight. Woman in the Patterned Shawl: Female Effigy Vessels and Figurines from the Middle Cumberland River Basin by Robert V. Sharp, Vernon James Knight, Jr., and George E. Lankford

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pp. 196-217

PART FIVE. Regional Studies: Moundville

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Chapter Nine. A Redefinition of the Hemphill Style in Mississippian Art by Vernon James Knight, Jr., and Vincas P. Steponaitis

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pp. 220-258

Moundville has long been central to discussions of the Mississippian artistic florescence. Together with Etowah and Spiro, Moundville was once routinely included as one of the “big three” primary centers contributing to the South-eastern nulleremonial nullomplenull a concept that emphasinulld unity in Mississip-pian art and belief. nulln recent years, though, as individual site histories have ...

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Chapter Ten. The Raptor on the Path by George E. Lankford

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pp. 259-269

Several frenullently encountered images from Mississippian iconography are illustrations drawn from the widespread mythology of the progress of the soul after death. That argument has been presented in earlier articles on the “nullath of Souls” and the “nulleat Serpent,” in which the familiar images of the winged serpent, the hand-and-eye, the snullull, and the bone were identinulld as ...

Chapter Eleven. The Swirl-Cross and the Center by George E. Lankford

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pp. 270-295

PART SIX. Regional Studies: Etowah and Upper Tennessee Valley

Chapter Twelve. Iconography of the Hightower Region of Eastern Tennessee and Northern Georgia by Adam King

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pp. 298-312

Chapter Thirteen. Dancing in the Otherworld: The Human Figural Art of the Hightower Style Revisited by F. Kent Reilly III and James F. Garber

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pp. 313-331

Chapter Fourteen. Raptor Imagery at Etowah: The Raptor Is the Path to Power by Adam King and F. Kent Reilly III

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pp. 332-339


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pp. 340-365


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pp. 366-367


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pp. 368-377

E-ISBN-13: 9780292784659
E-ISBN-10: 0292784651
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292723085
Print-ISBN-10: 0292723083

Page Count: 375
Illustrations: 76 line drawings, 56 b&w photos, 1 map, 4 tables
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies
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OCLC Number: 698116866
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Visualizing the Sacred

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mississippian culture.
  • Mississippian art.
  • Indian cosmology -- Mississippi River Valley -- History -- To 1500.
  • Indians of North America -- Mississippi River Valley -- Religion.
  • Visions -- Mississippi River Valley -- History -- To 1500.
  • Regionalism -- Mississippi River Valley -- History -- To 1500.
  • Mississippi River Valley -- Antiquities.
  • Middle West -- Antiquities.
  • Southern States -- Antiquities.
  • East (U.S.) -- Antiquities.
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