2010 is, in the Chinese calendar, the year of the Tiger. So, in this, my first post for 2010, I will introduce a creature which may be a Patagonian Jaguar or something else, I am not quite sure yet.
I took the photographs shown above at the Museo de la Patagonia, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina just over a week ago.
They were in a glass display case with a printed card with the caption "Patagoniense Tehuelchense", no additional information is given.
I was intrigued by the sculpture, as I had not come across Tehuelche stone statuettes before. So I decided to look into the matter. Tehuelche art can be grouped into three categories:
1. Rock Art. Paintings on rock surfaces. These are geometric designs. The "hands" motif found at Cueva de las Manos is much older than the Tehuelchense period.
2. Painted guanaco and horse hides. The inner surface is painted with geometric designs. These hides were used as "capes" or garments, for warmth and protection. Playing cards made of leather are included in this category. (click to see photographs and paper on Tehuelche painted hides).
3. Pipes made from bone or ceramic. For smoking tobacco. (Image of pipe).
The Tehuelchense culture was pre-ceramic (they did not produce pottery). Furthermore there is no reference regarding sculptures or statuettes in the literature that I have checked.
This beautifully crafted piece is a mystery.
The Patagoniense, also known as Tehuelchense is a cultural period that spanned from 1950 to 1250 years Before Present (BP) that is from about 0 AD to 700 AD. This chronological period was followed by the Tehuelche who, at least in Northern Patagonia, produced pottery. Click for a guide to Patagonian chronology.
What is the creature?
It seems very feline. Maybe a puma or a jaguar (see my post on Nahuel, the Patagonian "Tiger". Perhaps something else; it lacks a tail and is quite "bulky"; its body is crisscrossed with deep incisions (or is it a glyptodon-like armor?). Is it a cryptid? a Water Tiger or a Iemisch?
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