The Cult of the Feline

The Cult of the Feline

By: Elizabeth P. Benson

Publication date: November 2018
ISBN: 9780884024576

This volume brings together essays by anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, and ethnologists to explore the iconography of the feline, from Central Mexico to South America, from 1200 BC to the present. Carefully selected and expertly edited by Elizabeth P. Benson, the nine essays provide an excellent overview of the iconography of the feline in the Pre-Columbian world.

Title information

First published in 1972, The Cult of the Feline was based on papers given at a conference held at Dumbarton Oaks in November 1970. The conference brought together anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, and ethnologists to explore the iconography of the feline, from Central Mexico to South America, from 1200 BC to the present. Carefully selected and expertly edited by Elizabeth P. Benson, the nine essays in the volume provide an excellent overview of the iconography of the feline in the Pre-Columbian world.

From the Preface:
“The Bliss Collection has been, since its beginning in 1912, primarily an esthetic one—probably the first esthetically oriented collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts—so it seemed appropriate to organize a conference that would focus on a cross-cultural, art-historical approach. When we sought for a theme, the first that came to mind was that great unifying factor in Pre-Columbian cultures—the feline. Large cats such as the jaguar and puma preoccupied the artists and religious thinkers of the very earliest civilizations, the Olmec in Mesoamerica and Chavín in Peru. The feline continued to be an important theme throughout much of the New World until the European conquests. . . . This conference was not only cross cultural but also cross disciplinary, with contributions from anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, and ethnologists.”
—Elizabeth P. Benson and Michael D. Coe

Pages: 178
Language: English
Publisher: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University
Edition: 1st Paper
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Elizabeth P. Benson

Elizabeth P. Benson (1924–2018) was an art historian known for her extensive contributions to the study of Pre-Columbian art, in particular that of Mesoamerica and the Andes. A former Andrew S. Keck Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art History at the American University in Washington, DC, Benson had also a long association with Dumbarton Oaks, where she served as curator of the Pre-Columbian Collection, and then, most influentially, as the inaugural Director of Pre-Columbian Studies.

Elizabeth P. Benson (1924–2018) was an art historian known for her extensive contributions to the study of Pre-Columbian art, in particular that of Mesoamerica and the Andes. The three volumes in this set, all edited by Benson, were first published in the early 1970s and are based on conferences held at Dumbarton Oaks. All are seminal works in Pre-Columbian studies.