Inside the Peabody Museum: February 2013

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A "Winter Count" Pictographic Calendar

New Addition to Storied Walls Exhibition

Coming up at the Peabody

copy of Long Dog's Winter Count
Detail from black and white photo of a copy of Lone Dog Winter Count
Photo: 2004.24.34195. Copy: 03-25-10/62566

A "Winter Count" Pictographic Calendar

This Lakota or western Sioux “winter count” or pictographic calendar was given to the museum by amateur archaeologist Horatio Nelson Rust in 1903. Each pictographic element represents a year, which Lakotas measured from winter to winter. The pictographs commemorate noteworthy events, such as battles, epidemics, or the death of important leaders. Each band or extended family group selected a man to keep the community calendar, and he was responsible for memorizing past events and recording the passage of years.

Originally, winter counts were recorded on the tanned hides of bison, elk or mule deer. This example was collected in 1879 near fort Pierre, South Dakota and the pictographs are drawn on muslin. It is one of more than a dozen known copies of a winter count created by a Yanktonai Lakota named Lone Dog, who was a confederate of the famous Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull. Lone Dog’s count began in 1800 and continued through 1870. The corresponding pictographs begin in the center of the circle and unfold in a counter-clockwise spiral. -- Castle McLaughlin

New Addition to Storied Walls Exhibition

moche portrait head - Cut Lip

Moche portrait head ceramic vessel, also known as "Cut Lip." Peru. PM 46-77-30/5050

Two new cases of vividly painted ceramics were recently installed in the Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas exhibition.  All the pottery is from the ancient Moche culture, which thrived along the northern coast of Peru from A.D. 350 to 850. 

Moche ceramics are well-known for their representational style and unique stirrup-shaped spouts. They appear to have been made for purposes other than utilitarian, as the spouts are awkward to use.

Moche vessels often represent mythological or historical people, such as this man who has been portrayed many times. Some scholars call him Cut Lip for the distinctive wishbone-shaped scar above his lip. Portraits of Cut Lip are known in which he ranges in age from about 10 to his mid-thirties.

The Peabody Museum's Cut Lip is in his early twenties. Older versions of Cut Lip have two parallel lines that replace the wishbone scar, as if it has partially healed. The older Cut Lip also sports large ear ornaments (or large holes in his earlobes where ornaments would have been placed) and distinctive black face decorations over his broad vertical bands. 

Learn more in the Storied Walls exhibition or The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages by Jeffrey Quilter, director of the Peabody Museum (Peabody Museum Press). 

See what's coming up in the Calendar of Events.







































Did you miss any lectures? You can listen to them here or download them to your mobile device through iTunes U. Look for Harvard's Peabody Museum lectures.

February 7

6:00 pm


The Other American Revolution: Archaeology and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680
Matthew J. Liebmann, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

February 16

Noon–4:00 pm

Family Drop-in Event

Mexican Flag Day Discovery Room

February 16-17

11:00 am-5:00 pm

Family Drop-in Event

Visit the Peabody Museum family fun table at the Hynes Convention Center Family Science Days event.


February 19-22

Noon-4:00 pm

Family Drop-in Event (School Vacation Week)

Mexican Flag Day Discovery Room

February 20

6:00 pm

Lecturedivination lecture

Happiness: What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You

Daniel Gilbert, Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University


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