Final Weeks of Carlos Museum's "For I Am the Black Jaguar" -- Exhibition Ends on January 5, 2013

Share Article

Only two weeks left to see over 115 art objects that explore visionary experiences in American indigenous cultures.

Pear-Shaped Tripod Vessel, Costa Rica/Nicaragua, 1000-1350 AD

Pear-Shaped Tripod Vessel, Costa Rica/Nicaragua, 1000-1350 AD

Over 115 objects explore visionary experiences that deeply influenced the artistic output of American indigenous cultures.

The Carlos Museum’s special exhibition "‘For I am the Black Jaguar’: Shamanic Visionary Experience in Ancient American Art" ends on January 5, 2013. Over 115 objects explore visionary experiences that deeply influenced the artistic output of American indigenous cultures before the European invasions of the sixteenth century.

Objects portray the key characteristics of the shamanic trance consciousness -- brilliant colors and geometric shapes; spinning, spiraling, and undulating movement; confrontations with predatory animals and the transformation of the self into other beings; sensations of flying; communication with spirit-beings; and revelations concerning a universally shared life force.

From earliest times to today, indigenous peoples of the Americas have valued shamanic visionary trance as one of their most important cultural and religious experiences. Shamans still speak of their trance journeys to other cosmic realms, the truths they learn, and the information they bring back to cure their communities’ ills. Depicted in ancient American art, trance consciousness often includes the shaman transforming into an animal such as a powerful black jaguar, an enormous whale shark, a predatory owl, or a venomous rattlesnake. Animal selves and spirit companions are considered to be guides to the shaman in caring for his or her community, the animals’ powers augmenting the shaman’s innate healing abilities. The exhibition also features art that illustrates how visions are achieved in traditional settings, from meditation, to drumming and dancing, to ingesting sacred plants such as peyote cacti, vines, and spiny oysters. Traditional shamans refer to these plants as teachers, and they are understood as wise spiritual guides through the cosmic realms beyond the terrestrial.

View a video synopsis of the exhibition by Rebecca Stone, Emory Professor of Art History and Faculty Curator of the Art of the Americas at the Carlos Museum.

“Shamanism is the world’s oldest religious complex,” says Stone. “It underlies institutionalized religions. It is based on having a charismatic intermediary with the divine, a person who is willing to go into a visionary state and visit the powers beyond the human or terrestrial realm.”

The exhibition’s title is a fragment of a larger quote from a Brazilian shaman: “For I am the Black Jaguar. It is me you must invoke if you wish to scare the illness away.” The words highlight the basis of shamanism, says Stone, that the shaman is capable of changing her state of being, and “that anything is in flux between one state and another.”

Visit the Carlos Museum's current exhibition webpage for more information.
For press images, visit the press room.

Hours and Admission
-Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays and Emory University holidays.
-Adults: $8; Students, Seniors, and Children ages 6-17: $6 (Children ages 5 and under free); Carlos Museum Members: Free; and Emory University Students, Faculty, and Staff: Free.
-On January 31 and February 21, 2013 the Museum will offer extended hours through 7:30 p.m. Admission to the galleries is free on these days from 1 p.m. through 7:30 p.m.

About the Michael C. Carlos Museum
The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets art and artifacts from antiquity to the present in order to provide unique opportunities for education and enrichment in the community, and to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research at Emory University. The Carlos Museum is one of the Southeast's premier museums with collections of art from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Near East, Nubia, the Americas, Africa, and Asia, as well as a collection of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Priyanka Sinha
Michael C. Carlos Museum
Email >
Follow us on