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Female Figure

Date:
late 3rd millennium BCE
Geography:
Ecuador
Culture:
Valdivia
Medium:
Ceramic
Dimensions:
H. 4 5/8 x W. 1 in. (11.7 x 2.5 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics-Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Timothy, Peter, and Jonathan Zorach, 1980
Accession Number:
1980.83.15
  • Description

    In the third millennium B.C., inhabitants of Ecuador's southwest coast developed the earliest known ceramic figurine tradition in the Americas. Noted for their stylized representation, these clay statuettes are rooted in earlier stone figurine traditions from the same region. While some of the ceramic figures are relatively plain, consisting of simple grooved plaques reminiscent of their stone predecessors, others, like the one pictured here, display substantially more detail. The figurine, certainly a female, has a red slipped body with rounded breasts and strippling along her lower abdomen. Her hands are clasped beneath her chest and her legs are splayed. As is typical of many Valdivian statuettes at this time, the figure's face is almost completely obscured by an elaborate coiffure that cascades down her back. Found in domestic as well as ceremonial contexts, some scholars have suggested that Valdivian figurines represent fertility figures, although this interpretation remains tenuous.

  • Provenance

    Margaret and Tessim Zorach, Brooklyn, NY; Timothy, Peter, and Jonathan Zorach, Brooklyn, NY, until 1980

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
314204

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