Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru

In a dark room, there are several artifacts standing on pedestals and sitting in glass cabinets. On the right, there is an ancient stone sculpture with a large headdress and snakes around their hip, presumably a god or goddess.
Mar 03 to May 28, 2006

NMWA presents Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru which is the very first to focus on the extensive influence of women in this ancient culture. The collection of sculptures, jewelry, textiles, codices, pottery, and funerary objects displayed in the exhibition weaves a collective history from strands of politics, art, religion, war, sexual relations, family life, magic, and the realm of the gods. Surprises emerge, and the humanity, secular power, and divinity of the women of ancient Mexico and Peru are at long last revealed.

In ancient Mesoamerica, women had daily roles in both their spiritual and actual worlds. They were not only daughters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers, but also healers, midwives, scribes, artists, poets, priestesses, warriors, governors, and goddesses. The magnificent sculptures, textiles, pottery, and jewelry in the exhibition are organized into sections reflecting various spheres of feminine life, including Society, Politics, and Religion, Sacred Origins of Food, Textiles and Clothing, Magic and the Occult, and more.

This remarkable exhibition originated with Eliane Karp de Toledo, First Lady of Peru, and Marta Sahagun de Fox, Wife of the President of Mexico. Their interest in the roles of women in ancient Latin America resulted in showings of Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru at the Estacion Cultural Desamparados in Lima and the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City.

The exhibition was introduced to the National Museum of Women in the Arts by First Lady Laura Bush, who serves with Dr. Karp and Mrs. Fox as Honorary Patron of the exclusive United States presentation of Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru.

A view of a glass cabinet with little ancient clay sculptures inside. The cabinet is painted inside in a green color, which contrasts with the dark brown clay sculptures. The sculptures are of people, and there are also two bowls presented in the cabinet.

Installation view of Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru