Pre-Columbian, Ecuador, Jamacoaque (Jama Coaque), ca. 500 CE. A very special maternal depiction comprised of a seated mother holding her infant across her lap, both are elaborately decorated with ornaments and bright blue pigment. The woman's headdress features a tripartite red veined leaf or feather ornament with a blue center as well as a twisted blue wreath below. Adding to her ensemble is a four-stranded beaded necklace with added yellow pigment, four-stranded beaded bracelets and three-stranded beaded anklets with added blue pigment, and intricately designed blue ear ornaments. Not to be outdone, the baby is also bedecked with a beaded necklace and lower diaper-like wrap ensemble. The pale blue-green pigment after firing on these ornaments may represent cherished greenstone such as jade, turquoise, or even emerald. Size: 4.375" W x 8.25" H (11.1 cm x 21 cm)
Jama Coaque figures stand apart from those of other coastal sites of the period in that they are typically more richly clothed and elaborately adorned. Mold-made with applique decorations made in smaller molds, most are freestanding like this example. The backs of the figures were made by hand and not as well finished indicating that the figures were intended to be viewed from the front. Dress and ornament signified clans and ethnic groups as well as rank among the ancient peoples. Elements of clothing and jewelry were encoded with information that members of those societies would have understood.
Compare to works depicted in "Pre-Columbian Art of South America" by Alan Lapiner and "Amerindian Signs, 5000 Years of Pre-Columbian Art in Ecuador" by F. Valdes and T. Cummins for similar examples of this type.
Provenance: private New York, USA collection, Shillo Adir Park Avenue; acquired in the 1970's
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