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Female Figurine

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
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)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 76.166.41
CREDIT LINE Gift of Egizia Modiano
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Valdivia. Female Figurine, 2600-1500 B.C.E. Ceramic, 4 5/16 x 1 1/8 x 5/8 in. (11 x 2.9 x 1.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Egizia Modiano, 76.166.41. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 76.166.41_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
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.
RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (83%)
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