(P090)
Relating to Raptors: The Art of Human Engagements with Birds of Prey
Location 21-22 Russell Square - T102
Date and Start Time 01 Jun, 2018 at 11:30
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Robert Wallis (Richmond University) email

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Short abstract

Explores representations of the dynamic between ourselves and birds of prey, evidenced diversely in the anthropology of art, the art history and archaeology of the earliest falconry, and visual representations of raptors in museums, heritage and tourism.

Long abstract

Birds of prey are depicted as powerful beings in the visual art of indigenous communities, their body part are dynamic agents in material religion, their faunal remains are found intentionally deposited in the archaeological record, their preserved bodies are displayed in museums, and falconry is marketed as intangible cultural heritage. This session invites scholars from across the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, art history, human-animal studies, and museum, heritage and tourism studies to explore representations of the dynamic between ourselves and birds of prey. Contributions are welcome on such topics as raptor-kin in indigenous image-making traditions, the earliest evidence for hawking in art history and archaeology, and the roles of birds of prey in the visual cultures of tourism, heritage and museums. Those papers which theorise how the art, materiality and representation of human-raptor relations can be approached without recourse to a culture-nature dichotomy, in the light of the ontological turn and other post-humanist thinking, are particularly welcome.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Raptors in Precolumbian North America: an Ontology of Art

Author: Max Carocci (Chelsea College of Arts) email

Short abstract

The presentation looks at raptor imagery produced by North American peoples before Columbus. It explores how art practices in precolonial America may reflect locally perceived changes in ontological statuses between humans and birds of prey.

Long abstract

The vast corpus of falconid representations made by Precolumbian Native North American peoples from the eastern woodlands shows a preoccupation with this bird species that exceeds any other visual and material repertoire of other animals produced before colonisation. Past interpretations of this corpus span from performance costumes to the representation of mythical beings. This paper offers other possible interpretations of this material in light of anthropology's 'ontological turn' theories about personhood and alternative states of consciousness. Here I explore how permeability between reality's different registers recorded ethnographically among American Indian peoples can shed some light on this artistic production that some anthropologists explain as being more than inert matter. Addressing the status of things and their production among these precolumbian peoples I apply new anthropological findings to a body of artistic production that, so far, has been framed by discussions on iconography, style, and form.

Birds of Prey, Falconry and Bird Brooches in Iron Age Scandinavia

Author: Kristina Jennbert email

Short abstract

The paper explores the Scandinavian Iron Age bird brooches. The initial perspective is on falconry in terms of "the Animal Turn" and the dynamics between the bird and the human. The second perspective follows the pictorial language on the brooches and how the image may have acted in the society.

Long abstract

The images on certain types of bird brooches in Iron Age Scandinavia suggest a close relation between the birds of prey and humans. To understand the visual art of the bird brooches my focus will be on the visual quality in the images. What do we see in this sort of visual art? Is it possible to structure the visual perception?

The pictorial language of the bird brooches as representations of birds of prey reveals an interpretation based on the form and stance of the bird's body with the stout aerofoil of the shoulders and the folded wings with the claws in diving position. As well, the ornamentations consist of a bird with straps, human features and human faces.

The paper explores the images on Scandinavian Iron Age bird brooches in the line of two perspectives. The initial and basic perspective is about falconry in terms of "the Animal Turn" and the importance for the falconer to have the sense of the birds' needs and personality, and the dynamics between the human and the bird. The second perspective follows the pictorial language of the bird brooches with an attempt to find out how the visual perception may have acted in the Iron Age society.

Golden Raptors and Rock Art - the role of avian iconography in Kazakhstan during the early 1st millennium BCE

Author: Kenneth Lymer (Wessex Archaeology) email

Short abstract

Re-examining raptor decorations and rock art imagery made by the Early Nomadic peoples of Kazakhstan during the early 1st millennium BCE as biographical objects.

Long abstract

During the early 1st millennium BCE, the Early Nomads of Central Asia utilised an iconographic repertoire of wild animals, including raptors, to decorate personal objects that is considered to belong to the so-called Scytho-Siberian 'animal style'. The concept of an 'animal style' arose at the beginning of the 20th century and was based in the traditional art historical approach that led to the ordering of zoomorphic imagery within Western hierarchies of design, execution and evolution. When looking at Early Nomadic golden raptor decorations the striking nature of their visuality leads to analysis that privileges the physical form of the decorated object over the social processes that they were embedded within. The avian forms, however, are also depicted as flat silhouettes in scenes of rock art that are located in secluded places in the landscape. By focusing on examples of grave goods and rock art from the Kazakhstan fresher perspectives can be gained about raptor imagery by re-examining their contextual complexities through the biography of objects. The raptors were much more than mere ornamentations as they were part and parcel of local knowledges deeply entangled in the lives of peoples from past societies.

Falconers for the Dead: Tang Tomb Figurines

Author: Leslie Wallace (Coastal Carolina University) email

Short abstract

This paper examines Tang dynasty (618-907) falconer figurines placed in tombs, including their methods of production, stylistic variations, geographic spread, placement, and details of costume and dress.

Long abstract

During the Tang dynasty (618-907), sculptures of attendants and animals were placed in elite tombs designed to replicate mansions and palaces to be populated by the spirit of the deceased. Made of unglazed and glazed clay, these figures worked in tandem with the tomb's pictorial and architectural components to articulate space within and around the deceased's residence and create a pleasant afterlife full of activities for the him/her to enjoy. Among the retinue of human figurines, which include somber officials, accommodating attendants, exotic foreigners, and chic court ladies, are a group of sculptures that depict mounted and unmounted falconers posed with a bird of prey on their arm. This paper will survey and analyze the variety of types of Tang falconer figurines, including their methods of production, stylistic variations, geographic spread, placement in the tomb, and details of costume and dress. Supplementing this information with other visual and textual materials, it will then discuss who is most commonly depicted and what types of birds of prey were used.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.