A Prehistoric Columbian Pysanka

Clifford C. Richey April 2013
(Revised 4-13-13)

Olla with Annular Base and Modeled Figures The Walters Art Museum It might be helpful to read: http://www.scribd.com/doc/125076415/Universal-Prehistoric-Depicted-Sign-Language when reading this paper as it explains the use of Form, Imagery, Gesture signs, Stance, allusion and position as used in composing glyphs.

Illustration 1: Vessel: Total Form

Illustration 2: Vessel: Sub-form, An Egg

The entire Form is one of an earthen Vessel (representing the earth as a container). As has been discussed in previous papers many ancient compositions were based on a template of a Body of some kind. In this case the Body is that of the Vessel. Such a template provided an underlying spatial structure to the composition. The Mouth of the Vessel (a water-source) is between four, modeled, sitting figures. The Body of the Vessel is Egg shaped which signifies, the unborn or the one about to emerge.

One egg's lower half transformed And became the earth below, And its upper half transmuted And became the sky above; From the yolk the sun was made, Light of day to shine upon us; From the white the moon was formed, Light of night to gleam above us; All the colored brighter bits Rose to be the stars of heaven And the darker crumbs changed into Clouds and cloudlets in the sky. --Kalevala, the Finnish national epic

The Large Egg in this composition reminds us of a decorated Easter Egg. Easter Eggs, as such, did not appear until after the death of Christ. The “Easter Egg” is usually traced back to Roman times before it was incorporated into Christianity. The ancient meaning of the original red color of the ancient eggs was then re-interpreted from meaning the rising Sun and resurrection of deceased leaders to the color of the blood of Christ 1. In this paper we see that the Native Americans, in what is now Columbia, had entered the Americas at least 12,000 years ago had created a vessel in the Form of an Egg. The Form of the egg and its message was based on their ancient cosmology. Psyanka means writing and is what many cultures call the Easter eggs in the Ukraine. Pysanka was also prevalent among the eastern Mediterranean nations from 5,000 to 3,000 years before Christ. With the coming of Christianity, the pysanka became a part of the Easter traditions of a variety nations.

Pre-Columbian grey Pottery Vessel resting on four egg-shaped lobes. Mochica/Chimu Culture North coast of Peru 400-1000AD
Illustration 3: Photo Credit: http://bcartifacts.com

The above Vessel, from the Moche culture of Peru, was made in the Form of Four Eggs with the Mouth (a water source) of the Vessel positioned in its center. This would translate into, the ones who will emerge in all four directions, or everywhere. When the vessel is observed from above we see that the Mouth of the vessel is in the sign for a large hole and that the tops of the Eggs are in the Form of the Curved signs for male-spirits (based on the shape of the glans penis). Thus, the great male-spirits everywhere on the , positional, sides, the water-source, positional, the center (meaning a cosmological center). The ancient meaning of many signs have been forgotten in many parts of the world. We are indebted to the Native Americans for the preservation the signs meaning through their
1 Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth, pre-dating Christian traditions. The practice of decorating eggshell is ancient. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. Decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg

continued use of gesture signs. The "Asterisk" shaped sign meaning the spirit is important as related to the (light blue) Asterisk (spirit) shaped sign within a (green) Square (a house) on the Columbian pottery, referring to the Egg, as the House of the Spirit.

Illustration 4: Asterisk Shaped Spirit Sign

Illustration 5: Spirit Sign on a Modern Ukrainian Easter Egg

“With the advent of Christianity, via a process of religious syncretism, the symbolism of the egg was changed to represent, not nature's rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose. With the acceptance of Christianity in 988, the decorated pysanka, in time, was adapted to play an important role in Ukrainian rituals of the new religion. Many symbols of the old sun worship survived and were adapted to represent Easter and Christ's Resurrection.2”



Illustration 6: Awaiting the Great One's Emergence

The Stance of the couple Sitting on the Egg is one which means awaiting some event. On the sides of the Egg are 4 repeating signs. (1)The (green) Square, a house and positionally, within it the Large Asterisk shaped sign (light blue) for a great spirit. Thus, the house of a great spirit. (2) the (green) house of (light green) the place of the pathway (black, double lines of Footprints) of the spirit tracks. A Vessel of this type allows the stored water within it to percolate through the clay walls of its body. This not only cools the stored water but allows moisture from the percolation as well as condensation to appear on the outer walls of the Vessel. This visible moisture was, metaphorically, defined as spirit-tracks. The visible evidence that the spirits had passed through the surface or sides of the earth. (3) The house of the net or snare (the Form of a Net) that ensnares the spirits attempting to cross through (the “+” signs within the net that represent crossing-through). This ensnaring represents the difficulty that the spirit has to overcome, within the underworld, during its attempt to reach the surface of the earth, (4) The (green) horizontal-place sign that has female-spirit signs, positionally, within it. When viewing this Large Egg Form one is reminded of a decorated easter Egg. This will be discussed further later on in this paper.

Illustration 7: The Couple Continued On the right hand side of this composition (Side A) is the figure of a Female holding what appears to be a child while breastfeeding it. However if one looks carefully at the “child” that is being breastfed one can see that it is nearly the size of an adult. This Imagery probably represents the nurturing by the earth-female of the male-spirit that is (Stance) held by her. We note that the Head of the “child” was composed in the Form of (pale yellow) an Egg thus representing the unborn or about emerge. In order to obtain more information as to the meaning of this Female Form cradling a “child” in her arms we need to move down to the level of the signs that were used in composing her Figure.

The Head/Egg is, positionally, within the (green) “V” shaped sign for an opening Formed by the Female's Arm. There is another (green) “V” sign albeit much smaller, on the Breast (hill of the earth-female). This would translate into a an opening on a hillside.

Illustration 8: Organization of the Signs The (dark tan) of the Arm and Hand when viewed as a discrete sign carries the meaning of a warrior and steward (of the Sun) and this is, of course related to the Form of the Egg (the one to be born) within the (green) opening sign. This was positioned on the Breast or, metaphorically, on the hillside. Positionally, below we find the Legs and Feet which are the signs for a long walk or journey. Superimposed over these signs is the Square (green) house sign and positionally below it a (green) Vertical Rectangle indicating a vertical-place. The warrior, the steward of the Sun, below, on a long journey, within the house of the crossing through, a vertical-place, below. Next to the above we see the (blue) outline of a Bird's Head, positionally, on the side. This tells us that this is a long journey of, spiritual, flight. The Bird's beak (yellow) is in the Form of the Triangular earth-female sign. It was superimposed over the position of the Bird's Mouth –a water-source. The Bird's Eye is the (dark) sign for the one, the location, in the darkness. It was superimposed over the normal position for an Eye and thus relates to the Eye of the Sun –Venus. We are thus informed that the subject, the unborn “child”, is related to the birth-flight of Venus on the side of the earth, at the water-source. This may be a bit confusing but we need to consider that in animism Venus would have also have been considered a spirit --a star-spirit composed of the spirits of the warrior-steward ancestors of the culture.

Illustration 9: His Face, His Appearance We continue to be at a level unrelated, at least directly, to the Female Figure when we look at the Face (his appearance). The Hair of the Head means, growth or development and its Form is the slightly Curved sign for covered. The area is black or dark which indicates, covered in darkness. The allusion to the Eye (Venus) has the (blue) sign for the upper-side or upper-world as the Upper Eyelid. There is the flat or Straight Line that represents the surface and a (dark tan) Curved line that represents the sign for, held as in a bowl. Combined these signs create the Stance for resting that is often referred to in the literature as coffee bean eyes. All these signs are positionally, on the side of the (red) Triangle that represents the earth-female. The (green) Rectangle over the Bridge of the Nose (an allusion to the dual orifice or holes) indicates a place and its Right Slanted Stance indicates, stopped. It is interesting how the ancient composers of these objects worked in three dimensions and that the signs actually appear as different signs when viewed from different angles. This informs us that these objects were meant to be manipulated while reading them This place sign at the bridge of the Nose when viewed frontally would be another upper-world sign.

Illustration 10: Color Coded, Continued The (pink) Mouth, of course, represents a water-source while the (light blue) Form of the Chin is the Vertical Half Circle that represents on the side. Finally we observe the area of the Ear (an allusion to the orifice of the ear and its position on the side). The ( dark tan) Shepherd's Crook sign indicates taken-downward (through its Stance) into the orifice on the side. The (yellow) Earplug is the Circular sign for the one, his location. The position of the Head is at a higher level than the Feet of the Body so the Head also represents a difference in elevation.

Illustration 11: The One Who Waits Here we have the Figure of a male Sitting (Stance) meaning awaiting an event. The Arm, the warrior, The Hand, the steward, held (Stance) as in a bowl. This meaning is re-enforced by the Imagery of a Bowl. His Face, his appearance, his Hair, his growth, development. Imagery of a Cracked Egg, his emergence, his birth. The Eye, alluded to and meaning Venus, in the (blue) upper-world. But on the dark Line of the Slit in the Eye meaning, a surface. There is a (dark tan) Finger pointing a direction, Here, taken-downwards (yellow, Shepherd's Crook) to a (black) Circle meaning his location, dark, the one. The Ear alludes to an orifice on the side.

Illustration 12: Nazca "Cat Demon" Design

The emergence from the Egg Shell or a birth was a similar metaphor to that expressed by the Faces emerging from the Mouths of the Serpents (streams) found in Aztec and Mayan compositions. This theme is also found in Nazca compositions where a (blue) Bird (flight from the water-source) Image is found at the position of the alluded to (light blue) Serpent's Mouth.

Illustration 13: Color Coded (continued) The (red) Nose alludes to the dual orifices of the Nostrils and is a (red) Triangle representing, positionally, on the side of the earth-female. Positioned below is the (pink) Mouth, a water-source and, on the Chin, are (blue-green) Dots in a Triangular Form indicating female water-spirits. In a frontal view the figure's Head positioned on the Line of the Shoulders would represent on the surface. Thus the birth the male-spirit would have been indicated as occurring on or above the earth's surface.

Illustration 14: The Couple Awaiting the Emergence The Couple (male and female) on Side B is one in which the female is holding a “U” , turning, shaped

object that is in the Form of a Bird (awaiting-flight). The Tail is a Vertical Rectangle meaning a vertical-place. The male, on the other hand is smoking a Pipe. The Pipe, of course stems from the Mouth, a water-source. This implies that the water from the water source goes up like smoke or a mist to the sky. As both Couples are sitting they are awaiting that event. One might think that this is a rather normal couple depicted with their child that the female is nursing. However upon closer examination one sees that the child is proportionally too Large (great) and too developed to be an infant breast feeding. So we must look to the ancient cosmology to determine the meaning of this imagery. In the ancient world the sky was male and the earth female. Therefore the “child” of the Earth and Sky was a spirit that was nourished by the Earth. This spirit has its Arm and Hand positioned on the side of the female-earth's Breast which was a metaphorical hill of the earth. We are already aware of the meaning of the Arm and Hand as that of a warrior-steward of the Sun. The Arm and Hands of the male figure were positioned on the side of the Pipe –the one that smokes.

Illustration 15: Ukrainian Catholic Egg Imagery Mary Nursing Jesus*

Illustration 17: The Couple and Child, Color Coded The Earth-female Nursing The Eye of the Sun

Illustration 16: Egyptian: Isis Nursing Horus

We can see how important the concept of Holes was in the cosmology. Excluding the Dual Holes of the Nostrils the Hole in the Child's Ear was made as an actual (blue) hole in the pottery. This is true also of the hole of the male's Navel (a center) and for the hole in the Pipe he is smoking. The Form of the Bowl of the Pipe was made in the Triangular (red) shape of the sign for the earth-female. The hole of the Pipe rests on the surface of the earth-female sign. The Arms/Hands were positioned on the sides of the earth. Thus it was from holes in the earth, the water-source that the smoke or mist arose. The Child of the Earth-female, the Arm, the Hand (the warrior-steward), on the hillside. His Face, his appearance, at the hole (Ear area) on the side. The Child's Legs and Feet (the long journeys) were positioned as, on the side. The Skirt or Covering of the earth-female, is comprised of many, Square, house signs and within them

several crossing through signs. The Lower Left house sign has the “T” shaped sign3 for, positionally, within and below. Positionally below the Skirt and the Feet, the journeys-below. If the Vessel is viewed from above once can see that the heads of the couple (black) are Circles positioned around the Large Mouth (the great water-source) of the Vessel. This, effectively creates the sign for the four directions plus a Large Circle in the middle, the great center. This was a cosmological center for many of the prehistoric cultures. We will now look at another Vessel, one from the Moche culture in Peru that explains the meaning of the Vessel as one in which the earth was viewed as a great female, a container of flowing water-spirits that arise to the surface awaiting their emergence from the water to join with the stars. In this case Venus. The red coloring on the Vessel indicates the color of rising Sun as a form of rebirth from its journey in the underworld to arise or be reborn once again.

Illustration 18: Moche Earth-female Vessel

Illustration 15 is of a Moche Vessel whose Imagery is that of the earth-female. Her Body is in the Form of a large Egg. The Stance of her Arms and Hands over her abdomen is one that indicates pregnancy. The “X” shaped flowing Lines mean an exchange or a transformation. The Count of the Lines is Eight which is shorthand (based on the 8 lined “Asterisk” shaped spirit sign) for spirit. Thus, The vessel, the one that contains, earth-female, is pregnant, with the great one who will emerge. The transformation within the flowing spirit water.
3 See how this sign was used by the people in the area that is now Turkey: http://www.scribd.com/doc/123170961/The-Wonder-of-Gobekli-Tepe * While three examples do not make a trend the fact that all three female with child depictions were associated with an Egg sign does lend credence to the possibly. The Egg over Isis' Head indicates, the one who will emerge. The two Long Legs and Feet, a long-walk or journey were composed with the Form for arising, positionally, on the sides.

Illustration 19: His Face, His Appearance The Form of the Head/Face is the Rounded sign for a male-spirit which as stated earlier was based on the Form of the glans penis. This was in opposition to the Triangular shape of the female-spirit sign based on th human female genital area. A Face, any Face indicates appearance so this combined with the male-spirit Form tells us that it is His appearance that is the focus. The Form of the Head/Face is cradled in the (black) Curved sign for, held as in a bowl (like a bowl or pool of water). The Stance of the Mouth (a water-source) is one of being puckered up as if to whistle. The Count of the Four Lines stemming from the Mouth is Four indicating all the four directions or everywhere. The Form of the Mouth, a Circle with a dark center is the sign for a hole. The Form of the lines was made in the shape of the sign for arising. The male-spirit, his appearance, held as in a bowl, The whistling hole, the arising flow, everywhere. The “whistling hole” seems to have been based on an ancient observation of fumeroles4 where water and steam emanated from holes in the earth's surface often making a whistling sound. Metaphorically, this may have been conceptualized as the sound of spirit's exiting from the underworld. The Vessel itself may be a whistle as many Moche vessels do have that characteristic. On each side of the Face the Asterisk shaped sign for spirits were positioned between the arising signs and a (black) Finger pointing a direction, here and its Curved Form indicated the held as in a bowl sign. What was held in the pool of water was the Eye (the Eye of the Sun, a metaphor for Venus). The Form of the Eye was composed of the signs for held, covered, and the Circular (black) pupil that indicated the one, in the darkness.
4 http://www.scribd.com/doc/85447962/Inca-Moche-Other-Burial-Vessel-Notes

The spirit in the east and west, here, held as in a bowl, the Eye (of the Sun), Venus, the one held, covered, in the darkness. The Hat or Cap on the Head was composed of the (white) Legs and Feet connected by a “U” shaped turning sign. The Stance of the Feet (a walk or journey) indicated not going in any direction. Also the combination of the “U” shape and the Feet made the sign for not. Thus not walking or moving.

Illustration 20: His Appearance -Continued

Positionally, between the Feet, the middle or the Center is the Form of an Egg, the one about to emerge. And within the Egg is a black area indicating, the darkness within. The Egg is resting upon a Rectangular Straight line that means a place on the surface. The combination of the Surface-place Line and the (black) Hair locks, especially the Center Lock, Forms the “T” shaped sign for, below. This dark-vertical-place sign also indicates the Nose which is an allusion to the Nostrils (holes). The Hair is usually the sign for growth or development and in this case, development in the darkness possibly referring to the transformation in the underworld of the bowels of the earth. The Nose appears to divide the Face into a left and right. In sign language the Left indicates the east while the Right indicated the west. This division would also apply to the arising signs at the Mouth and would make the Mouth, the water-source, a cosmological center as well as the Asterisk or spirit signs. Not walking, moving, at the center, the one withing the darkness, the one about to emerge, on the surface. Below in the dark vertical-places, the development in the darkness, the holes, the places in the east and west. Finally, we have the necklace around the Throat (a tube or tunnel) of the Vessel and the Head/Face Imagery. The Count of the vertical-place signs that composed the Necklace was Eight (spirit) and Formed a Curve that was the sign for held as in a bowl. Within the place signs are Double Lines indicating, unseen. This means, spirit-places, within them, unseen. Held as in a bowl, unseen, within the spirit-places

Description Abydos, Egypt, Tomb DII Artist Egyptian Accession Number AN1896-1908 AE2775 Material ceramic www.ashmolean.org

Illustration 21: Egyptian Pottery Vessel Photo: Museum of Art and Archaeology University of Oxford, UK This vessel is one that is described as being in the shape of of Hedgehog. However the Form appears to be that of an Egg indicating the great one who will emerge. The Face (his appearance) is similar to that of the Egyptian Hedgehog but also would be similar to that of the Egyptian spiny mouse. The ears of the mouse are somewhat more rounded than that of the Hedgehog. Also if the Form was intended to have been that of the Hedgehog the Form would have had spines on it but instead, is quite smooth. The associative Imagery for a Mouse seems to have been the little or the small one. If the Imagery was intended to depict a Hedgehog then its essence might have be conceptualized as something like, the one that is hard to defeat or kill (due to its nature of rolling up like a ball with its spines projecting as a means of defense. Regardless of the animal Imagery we do note that the Face of the animal is emerging from the outline or Form of a earthen-vessel -an earthen container. The Mouth (a water-source) of the vessel is in the shape of the sign for a hole. At the Throat (a tube or tunnel that leads to the internal Body) of the vessel. Next to the Throat is the (black, within, positional, darkness) Triangular Form that indicated the earth-female. The Vine like Flower (fertility, and sprouting, growth or development ) that was positioned on the side of the earthen-vessel was composed of the Shepherds' Staff sign that indicates taken, direction, downward, positional, on the sides. The Flower Imagery would here seem to, metaphorically, indicate a person and was composed of the “V” shaped sign for an opening with the

sign Single Line for the one positionally, within the opening. The (black) Ears of the animal allude to the dark depressions or bowls positionally, on the sides (of the earth. There are other signs on the animal's face but they cannot be resolved from the photograph. The Legs of the Vessel are in the (black, darkness) Form of the Lower Half-Circle) that means the underside or the under-world. The Ears are also indented forming a bowl shaped sign. The Hair of the animal indicates a growth or development probably within the earth-female or within the metaphorical Egg. The Eyes of the animal are separated by the Nose into east and west sides of the composition. Thus similar to many other culture's the Eyes may have designated Venus in the east and west. The apparent contradiction between the great one signified by the Large Egg Form of the vessel and the little or small one indicated by the Mouse like imagery has also been found the compositions of other cultures. This distinction seems to reflect the difference between the great one as a great leader yet he appears as physically small in relation to the Sun. In this paper we have seen how the Egg Form and it allied metaphors developed from prehistoric times to modern times. We have also noted that the prehistoric Columbian, Peruvian, Nazca, Moche, Ukrainian, and Egyptian cultures all based their depictions on an ancient form of transposed sign language.