Primary signs components of snuff trays, Bennett stele, Ponce stele, and Gate of the Sun. Drawings by Donna Torres.
Sculpture from Tiahuanaco that precedes Late SAIS imagery and belongs to the Yaya-Mama style, defined by Karen and Sergio Chávez. The Rayed Head was popular in at least some Yaya-Mama representations, appearing in the most elaborate form of Yaya-Mama art, the Pucara style, in which a distinctive Sacrificer figure has been described as the “feline man” (Sergio Chávez, this volume, 2002). This Yaya-Mama statue was named the Bearded Statue by its discoverers, but comparison with other Andean imagery shows that it is actually wearing a large nose ring or mouthmask similar to many that appear in Nasca art.
The Ponce Monolith, named for Bolivian archaeologist Carlos Ponce S., was discovered at Tiahuanaco by his excavation team, in fill near the center of the Kalasasaya mound, where it was probably interred by seventeenth-century extirpators of idolatries. It is assigned to the third phase of Late SAIS iconography at Tiahuanaco by Agüero, Uribe and Berenguer (2003), and it is the stylistically earliest monument to represent the entire Late SAIS triad, Staff God, Profile Attendants, and Rayed Head. This photo, taken by W. H. Isbell in 1964, shows the statue in the excavation pit where it was discovered.
The Ponce Monolith was eventually placed upright near the center of Kalasasaya platform, facing east. The body is represented as clad in elaborately decorated garments that are replete with SAIS imagery—Staff God, Profile Attendants, and Rayed Heads—as well as other symbols.
Probable representations of Anadenanthera flowers, leaves, and seeds. (a) Conchopata pottery sherd (Knobloch 2000); (b) Bennett stele, det., chest pendant; (c) Ponce stele, det., left arm; (d) stone sculpture, det., chest pendant, Putuni, Tiahuanaco; (e–j) various types of Anadenanthera icons. Photo by Constantino M. Torres; drawings by Donna Torres.
Trichocereus pachanoi, near Chavín de Huántar, Peru. Bottom right, Trichocereus pachanoi flower. Top right, camelid bearing cargo, detail from Bennett stele, Tiahuanaco. Photo by Constantino M. Torres.
Ponce stele, 3.05 m, found in central courtyard of the Kalasasaya, Tiahuanaco. Photo by Constantino M. Torres.
Detail, Ponce stele. Drawing by C. M. Torres.
Bennett stele, 5.50 m (total length with base 7.30 m). Found in semi-subterranean plaza, Tiahuanaco. Photo by Constantino M. Torres.
Rollout drawing, Bennett stele (after Posnansky 1945:Figure 113a). Modified by Constantino M. Torres.