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Jama-Coaque (Ecuador)

Cylinder seal

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Object Details

Culture

Jama-Coaque (Ecuador)

Date

300 BC-400 AD

Medium

Earthenware

Dimensions

3 1/8 × 1 3/16 inches (8 × 3 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas Carroll, PhD 1951

Object
Number

2006.070.351

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a solid Jama-Coaque ceramic cylinder seal with a deeply incised, stylized d(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis is a solid Jama-Coaque ceramic cylinder seal with a deeply incised, stylized design of geometric shapes.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This seal was made in the coastal region of what is now Ecuador.HOW WAS IT MADE?The cylinder was formed by rolling a piece of clay to the desired shape. Then the designs were incised with a stylus. Finally, the piece was fired in a pit in the ground to harden it.HOW WAS IT USED?Cylinder seals, as their name suggests, are round, cylindrical tubes with designs on their surfaces that can only be fully appreciated when rolled out onto a surface. Some cylinder seals are hollow, allowing a stick to be inserted to aid in neatly rolling the seal when applying pigments to a surface. Solid cylinder seals were rolled by hand.Seals would have been dipped in paint, mud, blood, or some other medium, and then applied to the surface to be decorated by pressing or rolling, depending on their shape.Images from seals are not found on clay items, so the seals must have been used on perishable items such as skin, leather, cloth, houses, and canoes. Much artwork for these pre-Columbian cultures was ephemeral, in the form of song, dance, and body painting. What we see in clay and stone is largely mortuary art. To see other cylinder seals in the Johnson Museum’s collection, search for object numbers 76.016.005, 80.029.036, 2006.070.106, and 2006.070.326 in the keyword search box.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?The cylindrical form enabled this stamp to be rolled, forming a continuous pattern across a larger surface.ABOUT THE JAMA-COAQUE CULTURE:The Jama-Coaque culture flourished in the semi-arid area between the Cabo de San Franscisco and the Bahía de Caráquez on the coast of Ecuador. The Jama-Coaque people lived in a series of small urban centers, and were organized into one or more chiefdoms, probably led by religious leaders. Their economy relied on a combination of farming and fishing. The artistic achievements of these people were of very high order; their ceramic human figures are expressive and individualized, with people often portrayed in naturalistic positions, engaged in actions and movement whose charm still resonates across the centuries. The Jama-Coaque culture shares many characteristics with the neighboring Regional Development Period (500 BC-AD 500) cultures of Bahía, Guangala, and La Tolita, all of which are local successors to the earlier, more widespread Chorrera cultural horizon.

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