BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a Guangala ceramic whistle in the form of a seated male. The term “effigy(…)
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a Guangala ceramic whistle in the form of a seated male. The term “effigy” is used to describe a sculpture or vessel in the shape of a person or animal.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This was made along the coastal plains of what is now Ecuador.HOW WAS IT MADE?This figure was made using a mold, a method that allowed potters to make multiple copies of one figure. After making the initial form, the piece could be customized with color and incised decorations, as this one has been. The body and head covering of this figure were burnished (rubbed to a high polish) with a stone. Then the vessel was fired in an earthen pit.HOW WAS IT USED?Although the specific use of whistling pots is unknown, we do know that sounds and music were important in the lives of pre-Columbian people, based on the many representations of musicians playing the panpipes and because of the large number of surviving ceramic whistles, whistling pots, and (more rarely) flutes. The sounds produced by such instruments were used to open connections to the spirit world. Music served to invoke benign guardian spirits. After the Conquest, Europeans attempted to ban musical instruments such as flutes in order to suppress such contact with spirits.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?Notice the incised geometric lines on the figure’s body; these could represent either clothing or tattoos. Notice the many items of jewelry worn by this figure, including a nose ring, earrings, a collar-like necklace, bracelets, ankle and leg bands. Jewelry is worn by many pre-Columbian figures and even by ceramic urns with modeled human faces. As in modern societies, jewelry and clothing were used in the past to convey information about a person’s social standing. The elaborate nature of much of the jewelry depicted in pre-Columbian artifacts may reflect the high rank of the people portrayed in these works of art.ABOUT THE GUANGALA CULTURE:Guangala cultural remains are found in the semiarid coastal plains between the mountains and the sea in the modern provinces of Guayas and Manabí, Ecuador. The Guangala culture grew out of the preceding Chorrera culture and shares many similarities with it, as do the contemporaneous neighboring cultures of Bahía, Jama-Coaque, and La Tolita. Separate fishing and farming settlements were well-established at this time, and both local and long-distance trade relations flourished. Semi-urban villages of increasing size may have supported local elite leaders of higher rank, but details of Guangala social organization are not clear. The arts were highly developed, with artisans specializing in stonework, metallurgy, and ceramic production. Although ceramic figures are less common in Guangala than in the neighboring Bahía culture, they are still frequently found, especially in burials, and are thought to have played an important role in religious practices and rituals.