Flat Stamp

Date: 8th–12th century

Geography: Ecuador

Culture: Manteno

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 2 in. (5.1 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Implements

Credit Line: Gift of Timothy, Peter, and Jonathan Zorach, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.436.4


Ceramic stamps, both cylindrical and flat, are thought to have been used to decorate textiles and/or the human body. They were made by many Ecuadorian peoples from the beginning of the first millennium B.C. until about 700 A.D., when patterns on textiles began to be woven into the fabric structure rather than stamped on to it. The stamps are carved into a wide range of motifs, from animal, human, and floral to imaginative geometric and abstract designs. This flat stamp, in an almost cubist approach to the form, depicts a bird with an angular step-fret design behind its head. The head, crest, and long beak are shown in profile while the body with partially spread wings and tail is shown from the back and one foot is seen from above. The stamp has a small handle in back.