Early Art of the Southeastern Indians
Feathered Serpents and Winged Beings

Susan C. Power

An astounding display of art from long-lost worlds


"There really is no other book available that covers the breadth of southeastern Indian art like Power's does. She is clearly well read in both anthropology and art and has produced a significant contribution to the field."
—Marvin T. Smith, coauthor of Coosa: The Rise and Fall of a Southeastern Mississippian Chiefdom

"With word and image, Power guides us on a memorable journey through ancient worlds vibrant with nature forces, supernatural beings, and the daring men and women who sought to control them. Destined to become a primer on the visual legacy of the southeastern native mind. A must read."
—Jon Gibson, author of The Ancient Mounds of Poverty Point: Place of Rings

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Early Art of the Southeastern Indians is a visual journey through time, highlighting some of the most skillfully created art in native North America. The remarkable objects described and pictured here, many in full color, reveal the hands of master artists who developed lapidary and weaving traditions, established centers for production of shell and copper objects, and created the first ceramics in North America.

Presenting artifacts originating in the Archaic through the Mississippian periods—from thousands of years ago through A.D. 1600—Susan C. Power introduces us to an extraordinary assortment of ceremonial and functional objects, including pipes, vessels, figurines, and much more. Drawn from every corner of the Southeast—from Louisiana to the Ohio River valley, from Florida to Oklahoma—the pieces chronicle the emergence of new media and the mastery of new techniques as they offer clues to their creators’ widening awareness of their physical and spiritual worlds.

The most complex works, writes Power, were linked to male (and sometimes female) leaders. Wearing bold ensembles consisting of symbolic colors, sacred media, and richly complex designs, the leaders controlled large ceremonial centers that were noteworthy in regional art history, such as Etowah, Georgia; Spiro, Oklahoma; Cahokia, Illinois; and Moundville, Alabama. Many objects were used locally; others circulated to distant locales.

Power comments on the widening of artists’ subjects, starting with animals and insects, moving to humans, then culminating in supernatural combinations of both, and she discusses how a piece’s artistic "language" could function as a visual shorthand in local style and expression, yet embody an iconography of regional proportions. The remarkable achievements of these southeastern artists delight the senses and engage the mind while giving a brief glimpse into the rich, symbolic world of feathered serpents and winged beings.

Page count: 288 pp.
24 color photos, 45 b&w photos, 3 maps
Trim size: 8.5 x 11


List price: $38.95

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List price: $38.95

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Susan C. Power is a professor emerita of art at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. She is also the author of Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to the Present (Georgia).