In the pre-Columbian era, the extensive cultural landscape of Western Mexico witnessed the emergence of diverse independent cultures. Involving various unique cultural elements which have to date been only superficially explored, they differ from other Central American cultures and civilisations. Extremely remarkable is the tradition of the so-called shaft tombs (300 BC–AD 600), a type of burial structure formed from a deep and narrow shaft sunk into natural rock, where eminent family members were buried. Buried along with the body were assorted valuable objects, among which especially noteworthy grave goods were diverse elaborately crafted human and animal figurines. Ceramic figurines represent warriors, shamans, musicians, pregnant women, patients and the elders, phantasmagoric animals and the like. Employing a diversified range of representations, the statuettes offer an amazing portrayal of Western Mexican life, death and customs.
The Pre-Columbian Mexico exhibition focuses on the death cult as represented in the shaft tomb culture and its implications for the world of the living. Predominantly found in tombs, the objects will inform the visitors on the culture’s quotidian life as well as ceremonies, rituals and beliefs that determined and directed human life and a man’s journey into the netherworld.
After the Ancient West Mexico exhibition from 1998, Pre-Columbian Mexico is the second show that addresses the culture of Western Mexican shaft tombs and the first that is based entirely on the civilisation’s grave goods revealed through archaeological excavations. The exhibited finds are one of the most significant Mexican artefacts unearthed in the last few decades. Having received an exceptionally favourable response in Mexico, the exhibition is now coming to Slovenia. As the first major presentation of the pre-Columbian civilisations in Slovenia, it will also feature a historical overview of the pre-Columbian civilisations and their interrelation.