Animal Masters, Guardian Animals, and Masters of Animals in Eastern North American

Author(s): David Dye

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Supernatural Gamekeepers and Animal Masters: A Cross-Cultural Perspective" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In this presentation I discuss beliefs that focus on "supernatural" animals and associated charter myths, regalia, and ceramic effigies. Three forms of transcendental animals are evident in eastern North America: animal masters, guardian animals, and masters of animals. Animal masters control the availability and behavior of their animal "subjects." They are materialized as animal effigy vessels, which are employed as venerated figurines/statuary and as ritual containers for preparing and transforming purifying "medicines." Guardian animals, as the object of human supplications for power, bestow health and protection, and are often visualized as artistic motifs and ritual regalia. Masters of animals may be either tricksters or culture heroes. As protagonists, masters of animals free captive animals for the benefit and welfare of humankind. As antagonists, masters of animals hoard animals, and are often depicted as "other than human persons" in a variety of artistic media, but most commonly as ceramic effigies. These otherworldly agents typically grant health, power, and success to those who establish proper procedures and protocols by performing specific rituals and by adhering to various prescribed practices of supplication and veneration.

Cite this Record

Animal Masters, Guardian Animals, and Masters of Animals in Eastern North American. David Dye. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450372)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25430