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Head from a Figure

This head, a fragment of a mold-made figurine, belongs within the rich ceramic figural traditions of the La Tolita culture in Ecuador and its contemporary counterparts, Tumaco to the north in Colombia and Jama Coaque farther south in Ecuador. In these cultures, both animals and people were depicted, representing beings ranging from deities, to everyday people engaged in daily activities, to animals from the surrounding countryside. Though most of this figure is missing, the relative simplicity of the head indicates that the representation is human rather than divine. Other characteristics—the ear ornaments, the sloping forehead, and the elongated, bulbous skull that shows the cranial modification that the culture considered desirable—suggest that an elite member of the culture is being depicted.

La Tolita culture, Equador
Head from a Figure
300 BC–AD 200
Clay, pigment
H. 4 ½ in. (11.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope 72.16.3