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Mastiff Bat Vessel (Moche, 50-200 AD North Coast, Peru, Earthenware)

Mastiff Bat Vessel (Moche, 50-200 AD North Coast, Peru, Earthenware)

Longtime readers will remember that Ferrebeekeeper has a great fondness for the magnificent art and pottery of the Moche, a civilization noted for sophisticated agriculture, ultra-violence, and, um, magnificent art and pottery. The Moche lived in the rich coastal lands of what is now northern Peru. In the past we have written about their art of sea monsters and human sacrifice, and of waterfowl. Today we look at Moche bat-themed art.

Crescent-Shaped Ornament with Bat, C.E. 1 - 300 (from the Brooklyn Museum)

Crescent-Shaped Ornament with Bat, C.E. 1 – 300 (from the Brooklyn Museum)

Double lobed whistling bat sculpture (Ca. 450 - 800 A.D.) the bat makes a chirping/whistling noise when water is poured out and air is blown in

Double lobed whistling bat sculpture (Ca. 450 – 800 A.D.) the bat makes a chirping/whistling noise when water is poured out and air is blown in

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Gold Bat Ornament (Moche)

Gold Bat Ornament (Moche)

Bats were beloved subjects of much pre-Colombian art (I owe everyone a post about the bat in Aztec art and myth). Although they were great artists, the Moche were scary people who were always sacrificing and garroting and flaying (more about that next week) and excarnating and hanging corpses everywhere. Yeesh… Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bats of Moche art are scary creatures with grimacing monster teeth and near-human expressions of malice and grief.

Early Intermediate (Moche IV), Mochica Molded stirrup-spout vessel, A.D. 500–700 Ceramic with red and white slip North coast, Peru

Early Intermediate (Moche IV), Mochica Molded stirrup-spout vessel, A.D. 500–700 Ceramic with red and white slip North coast, Peru

Moche IV ceramic stirrup spout bat form effigy vessel

Moche IV ceramic stirrup spout bat form effigy vessel

Sadly we don’t know precisely what place the bat held in Moche mythology. In fact we don’t know anything about Moche mythology except what we can intuit visually. However there are lots of bats to visually interpret and it seems like a safe bet that they had a chthonic underworld meaning (as they do in Western art and culture). These bats are demons and monsters born of the dark night-side of the human spirit.

Moche Vessel (Early Intermediate period) Bat demon

Moche Vessel (Early Intermediate period) Bat demon

Probably Moche (?) AD 200-500

Probably Moche (?) AD 200-500

All of these grimacing fanged bats with bared claws and anguished eyes make me think of the Moche people themselves—caught up in their centuries-long game of bloody worship and savage status. I wish I could help them, or even understand them, but they are gone. All we have are their skeletons and their beautiful dark art.

Moche - Pair of Gilt Bat Appliques. Loma Negra, Peru.

Moche – Pair of Gilt Bat Appliques. Loma Negra, Peru.

Gold Nasal Ornament with bat (Moche)

Gold Nasal Ornament with bat (Moche)

New York City from Bus Window (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

New York City from Bus Window (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

This weekend I took a trip up to Kingston, an old colonial town up the Hudson River.  I was visiting to see a friend’s art gallery, One Mile Gallery, (which you should check out when you are in the region–but more on that in later posts).  I took the bus a hundred miles up the river and jumped out, prepared to walk through a few blocks of quaint historical district–but the actual walk was more like a five mile hike through fields and ravines, past old stockades and cement factories (and strip malls).  Additionally I unknowingly visited on the day when the townsfolk reenacted the 1777 burning of their town by King George’s redcoats!  The whole trip had a very spooky autumn feel and I highly recommend Kingston (although if you visit you should maybe plan better than me and not run through the forests at night as the first snows arrive).

Hudson Valley from Bus Window (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Hudson Valley from Bus Window (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Anyway here are four drawings I made on the trip.  The first two were on the busride on the way up.  There is New York City seen rising like a twisted lovely dream above the marshes and suburbs of New Jersey.  Next we see the bucolic Hudson landscape blurring from the bus window.

Kingston (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil on paper)

Kingston (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil on paper)

This is a drawing of the historic cemetery at Kingston.  I took certain liberties since I was rushing through and I drew in the details on the bus.  The green statue guy is George Clinton, the fourth Vice-President of the United States.  Finally on the bus ride home, I became enthralled by the same picturesque Hudson Valley clouds that have beguiled so many artists over the years.  Hopefully you enjoyed the sketches from my little autumn mini-trip.  I’ll get back to real posts tomorrow and we’ll start leading up to next week’s Halloween themed week of horror and dread!

Hudson Valley Sky in Autumn (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

Hudson Valley Sky in Autumn (Wayne Ferrebee, 2015, color pencil and ink)

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