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Manteno (Ecuador)

Fox effigy whistle

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Object Details

Culture

Manteno (Ecuador)

Date

AD 600-1500

Medium

Earthenware

Dimensions

2 3/16 × 2 3/16 × 1 15/16 inches (5.6 × 5.6 × 5 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas Carroll, PhD 1951

Object
Number

2006.070.281

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a small Manteño ceramic whistle in the form of a fox. The term “effigy(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a small Manteño ceramic whistle in the form of a fox. 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 in the coastal region of what is now Ecuador.HOW WAS IT MADE?This ceramic whistle was made from a mold, a method that allowed potters to make multiple copies of one figure. Details (such as the eyes and nostrils) and incised decorative lines were added by pressing a stylus into the soft clay. After the clay dried, it was fired in an earthen pit to harden.This is an example of Manteño blackware ceramic. The black color of “blackware” is achieved in the firing process. While firing ceramics in a pit fire, the fire is smothered just enough to remove excess oxygen while still burning hot enough to fire the pottery. Unlike ceramics fired with plenty of oxygen, which may range in color from creamy buff to orange or red, ceramics fired in a “reducing” atmosphere will be gray or black in color.HOW WAS IT USED?Notice the mouthpiece for the whistle rising from the back of the fox. Although the specific use of whistles 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 how the fox figure is a combination of a fox’s head and a human-like body. Foxes are small predators, and are often associated with agriculture in pre-Columbian cultures. During Inca times, fox-skin headdresses were worn by people guarding the agricultural fields.Aspects of many different animals can be found on pre-Columbian pottery, textiles, and metalwork. They depict wild and domesticated animals, creatures commonly encountered in everyday life, and creatures found rarely—or not at all—in the natural world. These animals are often mixed with human attributes in what may appear to us to be startling fantasy combinations.ABOUT THE MANTEÑO CULTURE:The Manteño culture was centered along the semiarid Ecuadorian coast north of the Bahía de Caráquez. The Manteño were an agricultural people who cultivated maize, manioc (yuca or tapioca), peanuts, tobacco, cotton, potatoes, peppers, avocados, and squash. Local chiefs of high rank living in semi-urban centers governed the people. The Manteño navigated incredible distances to maintain extensive commercial exchange networks with both Mesoamerica to the north and Peru to the south. Manteño pottery is typically burnished blackware, fired in a “reducing” (low-oxygen) atmosphere, with finely incised line decorations. Figures of impressive nude male figures with large nose-rings, often seated on chiefly benches, are hallmarks of Manteño art and may reflect the increasing power wielded by chiefs during the Integration Period (AD 500-1500). Manteño artisans also excelled at metalworking, creating personal adornments such as earrings and nose rings. Animals such as the puma or jaguar, deer, snake, and caiman were considered sacred, and were sacrificed to the gods as well as featured in artwork. The Manteño people (known as the Huancavilcas to the early Spanish) fell under the domination of the Incas near the end of the pre-Columbian period.

Discover More

Figure

Thai

Dish

Yasutaka, Miyamoto, Yasutaka

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