Figure Vessel

Date: 8th–12th century

Geography: Ecuador

Culture: Manteno

Medium: Ceramic, pigment

Dimensions: H x W: 3 3/8 x 8in. (8.6 x 20.3cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

Credit Line: Gift of Peggy and Tessim Zorach, 1988

Accession Number: 1988.117.10


Vessels in this form of reclining figure are peculiar to ancient Ecuador, where they were made from at least the second millennium B.C. The male figure lies comfortably facing upward, supporting his head with his right hand while his left arm rests across his stomach. His knees are slightly raised. The entire figure, including the head, arms, and legs, form the container. A large round hole on the side is the container opening. The face, with a disproportionately large nose—a characteristic of Manteño faces—is finely sculpted. Ear ornaments are worn; a metal ring is fastened in the left ear. The ornament is missing from the right ear. Also missing is the nose ring that would have been worn in the septum. Much of the figure's body, its cap, one leg, and both arms are ornamented with an incised fret design filled in with white pigment. It creates a strong contrast to the black, burnished surface. In real life, such body decoration probably was applied with cylinder stamps.