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La Tolita-Tumaco Grey Ware Head Fragment

La Tolita-Tumaco Grey Ware Head Fragment

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Pre-Columbian era, La Tolita-Tumaco culture, c. 900BC-200AD, Southern Colombia or Northern Ecuador.

Enchanting and fine grey ware head of a human figure, likely of a cacique, a dignitary or tribal leader with an elongated deformed skull. Expressive visage comprised of almond-shaped eyes, a prominent naturalistic nose, large ears, gently smiling lips, and a tall, rounded headdress or coiffure. Artificial cranial deformation was performed in several South-American Pre-Columbian cultures and considered a fashion. The La Tolita was a Pre-Columbian culture that spread throughout the coastal region of Colombia and Ecuador. Two of the most notable sites of this Amerindian culture are Tumaco and La Tolita, from which it takes its name. The available archaeological evidence of this culture is ancient in the case of the La Tolita site, whose materials have been dated around 600BC., while in Tumaco the oldest dates correspond to 300BC. La Tolita potters used sandy, grayish clay to make their pottery, which included jugs, pitchers, cups, tripods and yuca graters. The many figurines they made were finely crafted and realistically detailed, almost all having nose rings, ear ornaments, and other bodily ornaments like balacas and pectorals. Also notable were their statues of mythical beings, including some that were half human-half animal.

Very good condition. Age-related wear, fractures and chip. Corrosion. Encrusted patina. Size approx. 6,8cm x 5,7cm x 3,8cm on included custom stand.

Provenance: Private collection from Canada.

For a similar examples see:

Head, from a Figure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 1979. 206. 1022 (

Head with Elongated Headdress, The Brooklyn Museum, Accession Number: 35.1670 (

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