The Pre - Columbian collection is representative particularly of the indigenous cultures of Mexico, Central America and the western coastal and mountain regions of Peru. The antiquarian value of this collection is quite significant. A few rare art objects from both the Mexican and the northern Peruvian cultures date approximately from 1000 to 600 BC. The majority of the artefacts are examples of these cultures at the height of their development probably from 400 AD to the Spanish conquest. While the phrase "Pre-Columbian era" literally refers only to the time preceding Christopher Columbus's voyage of 1492, in practice the phrase usually is used to denote the entire history of American indigenous cultures until those cultures were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans. This holds true even if this happened decades or centuries later after Columbus's first incursion to these indigenous territories.
The rich repository of Pre-Columbian art housed in the National Museum was donated by Nusli Heeramaneck in memory of his father Mr. Muchersha Heeramaneck . This collection consists of 536 art objects which Heeramaneck had collected with great care and zeal from art markets and other sources over a long period of thirty years.
Dr. Pratapditya Pal, an eminent scholar of Indian art and culture was instrumental in including the Pre Columbian artefacts in the collection of National Museum. After knowing about Dr. Pal's indepth study on Indian and Nepalese materials in the United States, Mrs. and Mr. Heeramaneck came into close interaction with Dr. Pal. Hence they confided in him and expressed their wish to present this important collection to an appropriate institution in India. Dr. Pal at that time was a Commonwealth Fellow and Staff of American Academy of Benaras. He on his way back to India from America brought the news of the proposed gifts and photographs to National Museum. This rich collection was received by the National Museum in 1967 and 1974, in batches of 367 objects of Peruvian and Mexican origin and of 146 objects from the north western coast of South America and Mexico, respectively. Dr. Grace Morely played a very significant role in persuading Dr. Shivaramamurti, Director of National Museum to approve the donation.
Mr. G.H.S. Bushnell who was the Curator of University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge at that time also evaluated the collection and commented that the collection covers a wide range in time and space. He was particularly impressed by the superb quality of some of the pieces and felt that they are good examples of the culture they represent, and many of them exhibit unusual features which makes them interesting. The collection of various artefacts gifted by Heeramanecks ranges in point of time between the 2nC millennium BCE and the 17'h century CE. National Museum, Delhi is the only museum in Asia to have not only Pre Columbian artefacts but also Pre Coptic textiles from Egypt and Luristan bronzes in its collection.
This publication is an introduction to the pottery tradition of ancient Peru. Pottery contains technological and symbolic elements. Each society develops its own patterns of behavior, which are reflected in artefacts, including ceramics, and other aspects of material culture. This concise publication is an attempt to discuss in brief the uniqueness of pottery tradition from Nazca and Moche cultures of Pre Inca Peru. The National Museum has 44 pottery pieces from Mochica culture and 58 from Nazca in its collection.
The present catalogue is the first stage of an ongoing research and will be enlarged, revised and developed as research progresses. For this first phase, a selection of some 21 representative objects has been made, focusing on Moche and Nazca ceramic collection from pre Inca cultural phase.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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