Double chambered vessel with standing figure

1 - 500 CE
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General Description

The dense tropical rain forests in the lowlands of northern Ecuador were occupied by the Jama-Coaque culture from around 400 BCE to 500 CE. Although objects made of perishable materials were devoured by the moist forest floor, numerous mold made ceramic whistles, flutes, and rattles have been found, suggesting music played an important role in religious ceremonial life. Vessel forms were more complex than in earlier periods, and some have attached figures modeled in terra cotta and painted after firing. Traces of red, yellow, green, and white paint remain on this example.

Elaborately clothed figurines indicate the existence of a sophisticated textile industry, which must have produced fabric for daily wear as well as splendid costumes for the men who performed religious rites. This magnificent figure wears a feather costume described in lively incised and appliqued detail. A man of undeniable power, he may be a shaman-priest invoking the spirit of a mythological bird or other supernatural being. The figure is at once stylized and charged with life. Here, clarity of form, intensity of gesture, and liveliness of detail combine to produce a work of exceptional quality.

Excerpt from

Kathy Windrow, DMA unpublished material, 1992.