Head Vessel

Date: 8th–12th century

Geography: Ecuador

Culture: Manteno

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

Credit Line: Purchase, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller and Gift of Nathan Cummings, by exchange, 1981

Accession Number: 1981.158


Shaped like a human head, this small vessel is open at the top, the neck forming the base of the container. The face is modeled naturalistically, with soft cheekbones, heavy-lidded eyes defined by incised lines, and a prominent nose wearing a thick nose ring. Additional facial ornaments on the nostrils are formed by small clay pellets, and five holes along the edge of each ear once held ornaments, possibly of gold. Two pairs of deeply incised lines curve from the nostrils to the chin. The face is framed by what may be closely cropped hair or a close-fitting cap decorated with a banded design and five appliquéd pellets on the front. The contrast between the burnished and dull surfaces, and angular, deeply incised, soft curving lines lends the vessel considerable personality.