Pre-Columbian, Ecuador, Jamacoaque culture, ca. 500 CE. A large ceramic vessel in the form of a transformational beast - probably representing a shaman in the act of transformation. The shaman, which appears caught between human and jaguar, crouches low on its animal haunches, its tail and legs forming the base of the vessel. The figure's humanoid head rears, with coffee-bean eyes, a curved, ring-like nose, ears pierced with large spool earrings, and a crown-like headdress; the mouth is full of fangs, and a huge, forked tongue hangs down from between its lips, reaching down to touch its chest as if prehensile. The vessel, conical in form with a thick rim, rises from the back of this creature. Two serpents in relief, their heads rising near the figure's crown, decorate the exterior of the rim. Size: 7.25" W x 10.85" H (18.4 cm x 27.6 cm); 14" H (35.6 cm) on included custom stand.
A smaller figure of similar form but with a huge, curved headdress, leans against the side of the vessel, giving the impression of being on hallucinogenic drugs, drunk, or otherwise incapacitated. This figure also has a jaguar-like mouth of fangs and a forked tongue; two serpent heads project from the top of his headdress. Researchers have suggested that similar artwork with smaller figures atop shamans are representative of two selves: the shaman undergoing the physical act of transformation (the larger figure), and his or her alter ego, experiencing an augmented reality.
This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex T. Misenhimer, Hollywood Film Producer
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Back legs and one side of the bowl have been repaired and restored, as has the headdress of the smaller figures.