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5549 - 450 Years Too Early" The Mixteca-Puebla Style in Early Postclassic El Salvador

The canonical style of Mixteca-Puebla Polychrome is one of Mesoamerica's most spectacular ceramic traditions. It dates to the Late Postclassic period. While its origins and evolution through time are very poorly known, it is generally claimed that this style originated in the Oaxaca-Puebla region because its painted iconography is closely related to that of codices and works of art in other media in that time and place. However, recent investigations at the great very Early Postclassic city of Cihuatan in central El Salvador show that ceramics bearing near identical iconography were common and fully developed by ca. AD 1000. Cihuatan's ethnic affiliation is most like--at least in its majority--Maya, although there is a degree of "Mexicanization" comparable to that of contemporary Maya sites in Guatemala. Among these supposedly Mexican traits is the local form of Mixteca-Puebla Polychrome, here called Banderas Polychrome. This shows a developed "Mexican" iconography focusing upon war, sacrifice, and penitence, but also illustrating deities such as Yacatecuhtli and Quetzalcoatl. Noting the absence of polychromes in the Tollan Phase and other central Mexican ceramic traditions of the earliest Postclassic, and considering what now appears to be the temporal primacy of Banderas Polychrome, questions may now be raised concerning the possible role of Maya polychromy in the development of the Mixteca-Puebla styles in southeastern Mesoamerica.

Keywords: El Salvador, Maya, Banderas Polychrome, Mixteca-Puebla

Author: Olsen Bruhns, Karen (Fundacion nacional de Arqueologia de El Salvador, Ud States of Am / USA)
Co-Author: Lic. Paul Amaroli B., FUNDAR

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