Pre-Columbian, Ecuador, Jama Coaque (Jamacoaque) culture, ca. 200 BCE to 500 CE. An incredible ceramic bowl, perhaps made for heating offerings, that includes a large attached figure of an elite male gripping his enormously exaggerated phallus. The bowl sits atop a round, hollow chamber above a square, hollow pedestal. The body of the bowl is decorated with studded bosses. Hanging down over the bowl are large, scalloped flaps of pottery, also studded with similar, but larger bosses. It is easy to imagine using this hollow space underneath the bowl to heat whatever was placed inside of it. Size: 9.5" L x 7.75" W x 8.25" H (24.1 cm x 19.7 cm x 21 cm)
The figure is fascinating. Researchers believe that what pottery figures wear in this culture are reflective of what real people wore, and this one is dressed in the attire of a high ranking personnage. He wears a huge, trapezoidal nose ring, long, multi-tiered earrings, a headdress with two dangling, thick bands, and a tall triangular projection. He also wears a huge pectoral that closely resembles exaggerated female genitalia, trapezoidal and with a deep cleft down its length. He is slightly hunched, the round chamber below the bowl connected to his backside, with his hands wrapped around the shaft of his erect phallus. His hands and feet are detailed, each finger and toe carefully delineated. His eyes are huge and bulging, almost goggle-like, and probably indicate a drugged state.
This piece was almost certainly created to be placed in a grave, holding an offering. Anthropologists and archaeologists have discussed the links between sexuality and death and the rituals surrounding death since the 19th century; for example, in Egyptian mythology, Osiris's death and rebirth are explicitly sexual, and there are many other examples from other cultures. This figure also has the added component of a pre- Columbian New World religious practice: the ritual ingestion of drugs, whose taking was likened to experiencing death, with death/shamanism/drugs/sex all connected into one complex milieu.
Provenance: private S.H. collection, Santa Clara, California, USA; acquired from Contiki Gallery; ex Arte Primitivo, New York, USA
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Repaired from multiple pieces and restored, all repair and restoration done excellently so that it is almost impossible to see.