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The Headpots of Northeast Arkansas and Southern Pemiscot County, Missouri

James F. Cherry

Publication Year: 2009

In 1981, James F. Cherry embarked on what evolved into a passionate, personal quest to identify and document all the known headpots of Mississippian Indian culture from northeast Arkansas and the bootheel region of southeast Missouri. Produced by two groups the Spanish called the Casqui and Pacaha and dating circa AD 1400–1700, headpots occur, with few exceptions, only in a small region of Arkansas and Missouri. Relatively little is known about these headpots: did they portray kinsmen or enemies, the living or the dead or were they used in ceremonies, in everyday life, or exclusively for the sepulcher? Cherry’s decades of research have culminated in the lavishly illustrated The Headpots of Northeast Arkansas and Southern Pemiscot County, Missouri, a fascinating, comprehensive catalog of 138 identified classical style headpots and an invaluable resource for understanding the meaning of these remarkable ceramic vessels.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

CONTENTS

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pp. ix-

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FOREWORD [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. x-xii

Headpots are perhaps the most distinctive Native American artifact found in eastern North America. These remarkable ceramic vessels were produced sparingly for a brief time (circa A.D. 1450–1550) and, with few exceptions, occur only in northeastern Arkansas and extreme southeastern Missouri....

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PREFACE [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. xiii-xiv

In 1981, I embarked upon what evolved into a passionate, personal quest to identify and document all known headpots of Mississippian Indian culture from the northeast Arkansas and boot-heel region of southeast Missouri. Even though these fascinating vessels are among the most spectacular of artifacts, their purpose seemed very uncertain, and...

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xv-xvi

My sincere thanks are given to a great number of people who have helped in this effort. If I have missed anyone, I offer my apologies in advance. A special thank you is offered to Dr. Robert Mainfort of the Arkansas Archeological Survey for his help in editing and collaboration in reviewing the original...

THE STUDY OF THE HEADPOTS

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THE LATE MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD

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pp. 1-

Headpots appear late in the archeological record, from about A.D. 1400 to 1550. This was probably a time of increasing conflict in northeast Arkansas, because populations concentrated into larger towns, many of which had wall fortifications, and some were even surrounded by moats (Morse and Morse 1983). The utilitarian pottery showed...

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SCOPE OF THE STUDY [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 1-10

The scope of this work is focused on vessels in which the mental concept executed by the potter was to create a pot entirely into the shape of a human head. This “classical” (Phillips et al. 1951) form of...

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METHODOLOGY

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pp. 10-11

The objects of this study, classical Mississippian headpots, are widely dispersed in various museums and private collections. They are brought together in this work so that stylistic variations, similarities, and differences can be compared and contrasted. For a three-dimensional appreciation, multiple views are provided for most of the specimens. Initially they were...

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HISTORY OF PUBLICATIONS

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pp. 11-

In a paper dated December 1884, Professor William Holmes (1886b:168) wrote, “Up to the present time I have met with but six of these curious head-shaped vases. All were obtained from the vicinity of Pecan Point.” In a later version of the same paper published in 1886, Professor Holmes...

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THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF THE EARLY EXCAVATORS

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pp. 12-14

The first headpots discovered in Arkansas, during the 1880s, were not found by idle curiosity seekers, but rather, they were part of a great early controversy in American archeology. The debate revolved around identifying the builders of the many thousands of mounds and earthen enclosures that early explorers and settlers encountered as America expanded...

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INVENTORY AND DESCRIPTIONS OF CLASSICAL HEADPOTS [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 15-172

The following headpots are presented by when the specimen was found and by stylistic characteristics. The earliest discovered headpot is number one. This is then followed by stylistically related headpots that may have been made by the same artist/potter. The following group begins with the next earliest discovered headpot and its probably related vessels,...

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ANALYSES AND CONCLUSIONS [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 173-177

The Garcilaso de la Vega (1951:438) account of the Hernando de Soto expedition gives a graphic description of the use of trophy heads. In 1541, de Soto allied with the Casquin people from the St. Francis River region of Arkansas to attack the Pacaha...

APPENDIXES

Reproductions: History and Examples [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 179-185

Mistakes in the Literature

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pp. 186-188

Hair Patterns [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 189-192

Eye Surrounds [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 193-194

Facial Decorative “Tatoo” Patterns [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 195-205

County Frequencies and Geographical Distribution

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pp. 206-

Metric Dimensions

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pp. 207-

Peripheral Ear Perforations

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pp. 208-

Dates and Finders of Headpots

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pp. 209-210

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

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pp. 211-212

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 213-216

PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS

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pp. 217-

INDEX

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pp. 219-227


E-ISBN-13: 9781610751803
E-ISBN-10: 1610751809
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557288974
Print-ISBN-10: 1557288976

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 828 color photographs, 232 illustrations
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Saint Francis River Valley (Mo. and Ark.) -- Antiquities.
  • Mississippian pottery -- Saint Francis River Valley (Mo. and Ark.).
  • Effigy pottery -- Saint Francis River Valley (Mo. and Ark.) -- Classification.
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