Our museum halls are also virtually available. Take a look at our exhibition "Art from Pre-Columbian America" on the 8th floor.

“I have seen the things they brought for the king from the new golden land [Mexico]. [...]

And I haven't seen anything in my life that has pleased me as much as this. Because I have seen wonderful artifacts and was amazed at the subtle ingenuity of people in foreign countries.”,

according to Albrecht Dürer in his travel diary
about his visit to the court of Charles V on August 27, 1520.

Pre-Columbian America: one concept, many cultures

The objects from the Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts collection are almost all from South America. Thanks to the diversity of climates and landscapes, the continent has many different cultural regions. Mesoamerica, on the dividing line between North and South America, with its deserts, jungles and highlands, harbored cultures such as those of the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs.

The land bridge between Mesoamerica and the Andes stretches from Nicaragua to Colombia. Residents of this area benefited from the knowledge and ideas between north and south. Finally, the Andes Mountains connect Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The immense mountain peaks separate the jungle in the east from the dry coastal area in the west. Here the Incas built a gigantic empire.

Columbus' arrival in America in 1492 represents a break in the history of the continent. European conquistadores rapidly wiped out local cultures. Yet ancient traditions and beliefs still live on in Christian South America.

The Janssen-Arts collection is one of the most important collections of pre-Columbian art in Europe. Dora Janssen was initially captivated by the splendor of the South American gold. Once struck by the context of the objects, she focused on the Maya and attended classes at the University of Texas at Austin, a major center for Mayan studies. The approximately four hundred objects show a beautiful overview of the many pre-Columbian traditions.

Take a look in our museum hall:

360 image
A selection from our collection

 

Pendant in the form of a leader or shaman
The man wears earrings, a headdress, nose ring, lip plug and a face mask. The Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York has a similar piece in their collection. Tumbaga is a gold / copper alloy and has a lower melting point which makes it easier to process.

This pectoral is one of Dora Janssen's favorites.

Tairona culture, northern Colombia, 500-1600. Gold (tumbaga), inv.nr. MAS.IB.2010.017.169.
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo: Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Beeldje van een zittende man

 

 

 

Statuette of a seated man
The prominent nose and downward drawn corners of the mouth associated the Olmecs with the jaguar and this statue is considered to be an image of a shaman half turned into a jaguar. He narrows his eyes to focus on a different, spiritual world.

Olmec culture, southern Mexico, Guatemala or El Salvador, 1200-400 BC. Brown stone, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.016
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Zittende man met pletschaal

 

 

 

Statuette of a man with pestle and bowl
The man wears plugs in his ears, as you increasingly can see nowadays. The balls on his shoulders may represent a scar decoration. He also applied black paint under his eyes, on his chin and on his lips.

Jalisco Culture, Western Mexico, 300 BC-300 AD. Pottery, inv.no MAS.IB.2010.017.036
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Vijzel in de vorm van een katachtige

 

 

 

Mortar (?) in the form of a feline
The highly stylized cat may have served as a mortar to grind hallucinogens that the shaman used to enter a trance. The shape inspired Carl Barks for his "square chickens and figures" in the comic strip Donald Duck in the Andes (1949).

Transition Valdivia to Chorrera culture, north coast of Ecuador, 1500-600 BC. Green stone, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.252
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp. © photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Borstsieraad in de vorm van een kwartel

 

Chest jewelery / rattle in the shape of a quail
The quail is hollow and contains a stone that makes it rattle. The quail was carried on the chest and looked at its wearer. Another object in the MAS collection seems inspired by this, a so-called alberia , a Mexican fantasy animal in the traditional folk art (MAS.0319.0008).

Costa Rica or Panama, 700-1520. Gold, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.131
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Borstsieraad in de vorm van een katachtig dier

 

 

Pendant in the form of a feline

Gran Chiriqui, border area Costa Rica and Panama, 700-1520. Gold (tumbaga), inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.122
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

 

Beeldje van een jaguar

 

Statuette of a jaguar
Jaguars play an important role in the mythology of many South American cultures. The shell is a common material near the Moche, who lived along the coast in the north of present-day Peru. Also very known are portrait vases.

Moche culture, Peru North Coast, 100 BC-700 AD. Bronze and shell, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.285
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Zittende krijger en twee honden - krijger

 

 

Sculpture group of a warrior with two dogs
This prisoner with his two dogs wears the headgear of the warrior order of the prairie wolf. Furthermore, he is only dressed in a loincloth and wears strange ear jewelry: his gold jewelry has been replaced by copies of rope. He waits for his beheading. Dogs played the role of escorts of the dead, a feature they also had in Ancient Egypt (think of the god Anubis accompanying the mummy to the Underworld).

Veracruz Culture, Northern Gulf Coast, Mexico, 400-900. Pottery, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.054
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

 

Neussieraad: jachtscene met blaaspijpen

 

Nose jewelry with an image of a bird hunt
The two hunters hunt the birds in the tree with their blowpipes from behind their shields. Their "hunting dogs" already climb the tree to catch the stunned birds.

Moche culture, Peru North Coast, 100 BC-700 AD. Gold, silver and turquoise, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.290
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

Zittende hond

 

 

Figurine in the form of a dog
Dogs often acted as companions of the dead in pre-Columbian cultures. Statues and vases in the shape of dogs like this were placed in the tomb so that the deceased would have his faithful companion with him on his journey through the underworld. The dogs shown are Xoloitzcuintli or Mexican hairless dogs.

Colima Culture, Western Mexico, 300 BC-300 AD. Pottery, inv.no. MAS.IB.2010.017.041
Ministry of the Flemish Community, Collection Paul and Dora Janssen-Arts, MAS, Antwerp.
© photo : Hugo Maertens, Brugge

And there's more

Our museum hall is of course still full of many other objects. You'll discover them all during a real visit to our expo.

See also
Take a look around the different rooms thanks to the 360 ° photos. And we present some remarkable objects to you.
Exhibition
Collection Paul & Dora Janssen-Arts
This world famous collection – which was collected by Dora Janssen-Arts over many years – tells us about the extraordinary relationship between man and the world of gods, ancestors and spirits in America before the conquest by the Europeans.