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Female Figurine

Arts of the Americas

Small anthropomorphic ceramic figurines are the hallmark of the ancient Valdivia culture of the tropical lowlands of western Ecuador. They usually depict nude women with prominent breasts, short arms, elaborate hairstyles, and incised features. Because of their abundance and the fact that they appear to have been intentionally mutilated and discarded with common household rubbish, scholars have suggested two possible functions: as offerings in fertility rituals or as repositories for spirit helpers summoned by shamans during healing ceremonies.


Pequeñas figurillas antropomórficas de cerámica son el sello de la antigua cultura Valdivia de las tierras bajas tropicales del oeste de Ecuador. Usualmente representan mujeres desnudas con pechos prominentes, brazos cortos, peinados elaborados y rasgos incisos. Por su abundancia y el hecho de que aparecen haber sido intencionalmente mutiladas y desechadas junto con la basura de las casas, académicos han sugerido dos posibles funciones: como ofrendas en rituales de fertilidad, o como recipiente para los espíritus ayudantes llamados por los chamanes en ceremonias curativas.
CULTURE Valdivia
MEDIUM Ceramic
DATES 2600-1500 B.C.E.
DIMENSIONS 4 5/16 x 1 1/8 x 5/8 in. (11 x 2.9 x 1.6 cm)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 76.166.41
CREDIT LINE Gift of Egizia Modiano
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Small ceramic figurine representing a woman with a large headdress and incised facial features. The lines of the buttocks are incised and the breasts are prominent. The legs, which have protuberances at the back, are articulated and the arms vaguely suggested. CONDITION: good; the legs have been repaired at the hip line.
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