The first time I ran across the word “precursoritus” I was attending Stanislaus State College (later University), in Turlock, CA, and writing a paper on Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, (July 28, 1804 – September 13, 1872), the German philosopher and anthropologist known for his book “The Essence of Christianity”, and for thought influential in the development of dialectical materialism, which was the subject of the philosophy class I was taking at the time. I like the word precursoritus.

Professor Wartofsky used the word to address the presence of cultural one-up-man-ship and the presumed need to establish the right of determination simply by having claim to being first, rather than seek a more robust and clearer sense of relationship by comparison of some of the most distinctive and interesting as well as problematic features of a context.

Wartofsky, Marx Feuerbach . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1977.

“Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It is a technique of decorative art or interior decoration. Most mosaics are made of small, flat, roughly square, pieces of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae; but some, especially floor mosaics, may also be made of small rounded pieces of stone, and called ‘pebble mosaics'”.

“The history of mosaic goes back some 4,000 years or more, with the use of terracotta cones pushed point-first into a background to give decoration. By the eighth century BC, there were pebble pavements, using different coloured stones to create patterns, although these tended to be unstructured decoration. It was the Greeks, in the four centuries BC, who raised the pebble technique to an art form, with precise geometric patterns and detailed scenes of people and animals.

By 200 BC, specially manufactured pieces (“tesserae”) were being used to give extra detail and range of colour to the work. Using small tesserae, sometimes only a few millimetres in size, meant that mosaics could imitate paintings. Many of the mosaics preserved at, for example, Pompeii were the work of Greek artists.”

“The inlaying of serpentine, turquoise, malachite and shell to make mosaics was also a popular craft and is known from Olmec times. The Olmecs are best known for their beautiful pavements of inlaid serpentine representing stylised jaguar masks and purposely buried, probably for ritual reasons. The Aztecs created wonderful masks and skulls overlaid with turquoise, malachite and shell with eyes of iron pyrites. One of their most famous mosaic artifacts is the chalcedony-bladed sacrificial knife with inlaid handle in the form of a crouching eagle warrior. Larger mosaics decorating the walls of palaces and temples exist in complex geometric motifs; these occur mainly after 800 CE in the architecture of the Maya although fine examples exist at Mitla in Mexico.”

One of the features I enjoy most about mosaic is the representation it occupies in the artistic history of both Native Anerican and Western European cultures. When presenting art in mosiac neither of these historical references takes any precedence over the other. – b
Mosaic is a conversation. Mosaic is the play of light on a broken surface. There are rules to the art of mosaic:

1. The play of light is the first rule of mosaic.

2. The surface of mosaics is irregular, even angled, to increase the dance of light on the tesserae.

3. Tesserae are irregular, rough, individualized, unique.

4. If you are creating horizontal line, place tesserae vertically.

5. If you are creating a vertical line, place tesserae horizontally.

6. The line in mosaic is supreme; the flow of the line is what matters so the eye is never disturbed or interrupted.

7. The background is very important in emphasizing the mosaic pattern. There must always be at least one line of tesserae that outlines the pattern. Sometimes there will be as many as three lines defining the pattern as part of the background.

8. There is a perfection in imperfection. The interstices or gaps between the tesserae speak their own language in mosaics.

9. Many colors are used to create one color from afar. Different hues of the same color were always used in ancient mosaics.

10. The distance from which the mosaic is viewed is important to the design, color, and execution of the mosaic.

11. The play of light is the first and last rule of mosaic.

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