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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/669

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THE POTTER'S ART AMONG NATIVE AMERICANS.

pottery. In the Peruvian most of the care bestowed on the decorations was given to the faces of the creatures represented, the rest of the body being fashioned without any apparent attempt to faithfully imitate Nature, Some pieces found in ancient tombs resemble Etrurian or Etruscan work of the same class. The potters did their best work on jars that were to be deposited in sepulchres. Articles for domestic service were of the simplest description. The materials used for the funereal vessels, called huacas and canopas, were light-colored clay and a blackish sort of earth mixed and worked in such a way as not PSM V49 D669 Peruvian clay jars and various pottery.jpgFig. 1. to absorb liquid. The secret of that method is lost to us. Some of the finest productions appear to have been submitted to the action of fire, but the majority have evidently been hardened only by the heat of the sun.

A long, slim neck is a distinguishing feature of much of the Peruvian pottery; and nearly every vessel is ornamented with a figure of some sort, having holes to represent eyes and other openings. These afford a

passage for the air forced out by the liquid when poured into the vessel. By an ingenious contrivance the air in escaping produces a sound similar to the cry of the creature represented. Thus a utensil decorated with two monkeys embracing each other, on having water poured into or from it, would give a sound like the screeching of those animals. One decorated with a bird would emit birdlike notes; while a mountain cat on one jar would mew, snakes coiled around another would hiss. The most curious that we have seen was the figure of an aged woman. When the jar was in use her sobs became audible, and tears trickled down her cheeks. The manufacturers seemed to have known all about atmospheric pressure. Dr. Le Plongeon had in his own collection a piece that demonstrated this. It represented a double-headed bird. The vessel had to be filled through a hole in the bottom,