The Beauty of the Jamacoaque
The northern coast of Ecuador is renowned for its tranquil beaches and picturesque villages. In the Manabi Province there's a town named Jama, which derives its name from the Jama-Coaque people, who inhabited the densely forested coastal lowlands thousands of years ago. As far back as 500 BC the Jamacoaque were using canoes made of balsa wood to navigate the waters of the Pacific Ocean. They were a powerful and advanced society that established trade routes with Chile and Mexico, and created sophisticated and refined art. The Jamacoaque culture thrived for a thousand years, and left behind a spectacular bounty of art, artifacts and history.
“When you compare their ceramics to those of neighboring Ecuadorian cultures, the Jama-Coaque were extremely important in several ways,” writes James Zeidler, research scientist emeritus at Colorado State University, and fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. “One is simply the unique nature and variety of the imagery depicted in their large figural sculptures. Secondly, as my colleague Tom Cummins has pointed out, Jama-Coaque artisans employed a very complex assembly process—using as many as ten separate molds of different sizes—to create different components of a single figural sculpture. And to that we can add the creative use of mineral pigments for painted decoration.”
Their shapes vary, and are known for the refined naturalism of their craftsmanship.They come in many forms; priests and chiefs, warriors, musicians, artisans, and women. Art for Eternity is proud to present this beautiful example. Our bare-chested female figure wears a long skirt, a thick blue collar, and a head cover. She is almost 13 inches tall, and is adorned with elaborate jewelry: ear spools, arm bands and a chunky gold-tone nose ring. According to the Met, “dress and ornament were identifiers of clans and ethnic groups and markers of rank among many ancient American peoples. Information encoded in elements of clothing and jewelry would have been understood by the members of those groups.” She closely resembles two examples at the Met: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/314185 https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/314183
And even more closely one at the Walters Museum: https://art.thewalters.org/detail/80341/female-effigy-figure-3/.
We recently acquired several remarkable high quality ceramic effigies from ancient Ecuador as part of a collection from a New York City estate. We recommend you have a look at these undervalued, understudied, very powerful works of art.