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Sarnoff, C.A. (1969). Mythic Symbols in Two Precolumbian Myths. Am. Imago, 26(1):3-20.

(1969). American Imago, 26(1):3-20

Mythic Symbols in Two Precolumbian Myths

Charles A. Sarnoff, M.D.

The Precolumbian Indians of the Americas and Western civilization, at one time, developed high levels of culture in complete isolation from one another. During the sixteenth century, these cultures were forceably mixed by conquest. The period of mixing was marked by the destruction and mutilation of the Indian Culture. The Precolumbian cultures were rendered inviable and all but forgotten. Those elements of the culture which were carved in stone or buried in the earth, were left in fields distant from the centers of the new Western-oriented cultures. The great cities of the Indians crumbled in the wake of conquest and the wilderness reclaimed the land. Covered by a blanket of moss and jungle trees, they became the domain of monkeys, locusts and jungle cats. Though all else was lost or distorted, their myths slept in the stones. These have only recently been recovered through the awakening touch of archaeological inquiry and the symbolizing function of the artists of the long hidden isolated cultures have been made available for study. It is my contention that a comparison of these remnants with certain Western cultural elements will contribute to the concept of the universality of the unconscious. It is to such a study, using certain stone carvings and pottery designs, that this paper will be devoted. In addition, I will examine the relationship between the formation of personal fantasies and the mythopoeic function, as well as the nature and role of core fantasies.

The Material

Two Precolumbian myths will be used as the basis for this study. Their sources are stone carvings and pottery designs. Other sources of myths, such as those written down by a European, are useless for this study for methodological reasons.

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