At Linda Mason Designs.com even the packaging is special.
In addition to the fine handmade jewelry designs, handmade felt bags and the many other avenues of the artists’ expression, Linda Mason Designs has done the research on the images that make up the cards on which the handmade jewelry hangs. We hope you will find this almost as interesting as the lampworked glass beads, necklaces and felt bags.
The Mimbres people are part of the long cultural history in the American Southwest. They lived in the desert valleys of southwestern New Mexico along small rivers flowing from the surrounding mountains and in parts of Arizona and northern Mexico. They are known for their astonishingly beautiful pottery, including black-on-white bowls depicting scenes of everyday life activities as well as animals, mythical creatures, mountains, clouds, and plants. Each pot provided a glimpse into the logical structure of their world. After a relatively short period of time-from A.D. 1000 to1150, around the time they stopped making Mimbres Classic black-on-white pottery (A.D. 1150), the Mimbres people virtually vanished from the archeological record. The Mimbres people deserted their villages, taking all of the household goods they could carry to an unknown destination. Archaeologists have found no evidence of disease, famine, or warfare that might have prompted such a large-scale emigration. Through their pots and artifacts, we are able to view moments of an ancient world that might otherwise have been lost.
The Pazyryks were formidable Iron Age horsemen and warriors who inhabited the steppes of Eastern Europe and Western Asia from the sixth through the second centuries BC. They left no written records, but a sophisticated level of artistry and craftsmanship distinguishes Pazyryk artifacts. In 1948, Russian anthropologist Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko discovered the world’s most spectacular tattooed mummy during the excavation of a group of Pazyryk tombs about 120 miles north of the borders between China and Russia. The tombs discovered by Rudenko were in an almost perfect state of preservation. They contained skeletons, intact bodies of horses and embalmed humans along with a wealth of artifacts including saddles, riding gear, a carriage, rugs, clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, amulets tools and interestingly, hash pipes. Fabrics from Persia and China were also found, indicating that the Pazyryks must have journeyed thousands of miles to obtain.
The most remarkable discovery was the body of a tattooed Pazyryk chief, a thick set powerfully built man who had died when he was about 50 years old. The chief was elaborately decorated with an interlocking series of designs representing a variety of fantastic beasts. The best-preserved tattoos were images of a donkey, a mountain ram, two highly stylized deer with long antlers and an imaginary carnivore on the right arm. Two monsters resembling griffins decorated the chest, and on the left arm are three partially obliterated images, which seem to represent two deer and a mountain goat. On the front of the right leg a fish extends from the foot to the knee. A monster crawls over the right foot, and on the inside of the shin is a series of four running rams, that touch each other to form a single design. The left leg also bears tattoos, but these designs could not be clearly distinguished. In addition, the chief’s back is tattooed with a series of small circles in line with the vertebral column. This tattooing was probably done for therapeutic reasons. Contemporary Siberian tribesmen still practice tattooing of this kind to relieve back pain. No instruments specifically designed for tattooing were found, but the Pazyryks had extremely fine needles with which they did miniature embroidery, and were undoubtedly used for tattooing.
In the summer of 1993, another tattooed Pazyryk mummy was discovered in Siberia’s Umok plateau. It had been buried over 2,400 years ago in a casket fashioned from the hollowed-out trunk of a larch tree. On the outside of the casket were stylized images of deer and snow leopards carved in leather. Shortly after burial, freezing rain had apparently flooded the grave and the entire contents of the burial chamber had remained frozen in permafrost. Six horses wearing elaborate harnesses had been sacrificed and lay on the logs that formed the roof of the burial chamber. Within the chamber itself, the ice harbored remarkable finds, including vessels still containing food after 24 centuries. The larch tree was considered a sacred tree similar to the tree of life. Many believed that when they placed a body in a larch tree coffin it was returned to the source of life, like returning to Mother Earth to be reborn. The coffin was secured with large heavy copper nails. Two nails on each side held the lid tightly down and helped trap the water that ran into the coffin. The water had long ago turned to a rock-solid milky white ice that concealed the coffin’s secrets. Heated water was carefully and slowly poured over the ice. Finally a face appeared, mostly bone, but the rest of the body was covered with flesh. The distinctive headdress of a Pazyryk woman was also revealed. She was buried alone, not a mistress or concubine, but a powerful figure in her own right. She was dubbed the Ice Maiden. Like the chieftain Pazyryk mummy, she too was tattooed. On her left arm, the right thumb, and on her left shoulder were tattoos with designs representing mythical creatures. Creatures oddly twisted at 180-degree angles with amazing horns that end in flowers. How she died is still a mystery. She was young, between 20 and 30. She was beautifully dressed with a 3-foot headdress made of felt that took up 1/3 of her coffin and a necklace of wooden camels. The black felted headdress was a symbol of the tree of life, with a pattern of 15 wooden birds originally coated in gold leaf sewn onto it. Mythology suggests that the tree of life is supposed to bring universes together. The higher universe of the gods and the universe of human kind come together with this symbol. The headdress also was an expression of this woman’s life. It showed her place in society, her family, and tribe. Anything worn on the head had to be as high and striking as possible and the headdress was very large. Few garments this ancient has been found so well preserved. The Ice Maiden’s thigh high riding boots were only mildly damaged. Her dress woven from sheep’s wool and camel hair was held at the waist by a braided cord with tassels. It was banded in three colors, the red dye derived from insects, and delicate maroon edged this priceless sheer blouse. The most complete costume ever found from a nomadic society. The blouse, made of silk, no doubt came from another region. In nomadic cultures, including the Pazyryks, silk was precious. It was an emblem of wealth and prestige, and is found in the burial mounds of only the richest and most notable figures. The type of silk suggests that it came from India that would mean Pazyryk trade routes stretched across vast areas of Asia. The objects in the tomb appear to have been everyday goods not made especially for the burial and showed signs of wear and tear. These were incredibly pragmatic people who reused the goods that they had. A vessel that was hung up when stored didn’t need a flat bottom. When used it was placed on a felt stand. This is very characteristic of vessels used by nomads to this day. They used small tables that were collapsible. And could easily be put into a bag, hung on a horse and taken away. Coriander seeds, rich in vaporous oils were found in a small dish and were probably burned to cover unwanted odors. A decorated hand mirror was found in a red pouch. Linked to some sacred concept, mirrors often depicted deer on them, an extremely significant image in their culture. All the Pazyryk had mirrors—men, women and children. The mirrors were always at their side, carried in a bag and hung from the belt. When they died it was placed in the grave. Greek historian Herodotus devoted more that half a volume to these fabled Scythian tribesmen. Evidence of their ferociousness is found with the burial of their lances and bows and arrows. Many of these items found buried with female skeletons and ornaments suggesting that women fought beside their men. Herodotus may well have been correct when he said that bloodthirsty Scythian Amazons had to kill a man in battle before they were allowed to marry. These nomads favored hemp seeds, were successful herdsmen and farmers, and had a taste for expensive jewelry. Like the Egyptian pharaohs, Scythian (Pazyryk) rulers believed in taking their worldly goods with them. Their graves not only contain necklaces, rings, garments and household items they also include horses and the remains of faithful servants.
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