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Lord, Jama-Coaque, AD 400

By coricancha
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The culture called La Tolita/Tumaco and its neighbor, the Jama-Coaque, flourished two thousand years ago in the Pacific coast lowlands close to the border of present-day Ecuador and Colombia. The period of the greatest cultural achievement lasted until around AD 400. Some ceramic figures allude to the chiefs of Jama-Coaque, as they bear splendid regalia announcing their rank and status. This reconstruction is based on a ceramic figure which was found in San Isidoro (Manabi): A seated lord wears spectacular ear ornaments, a headdress of sea snails, and a collar made of green stones. He bears a lime flask in one hand and, in the other, a spatula. These were the implements of coca-chewing, a prerogative of Andean rulers in rites performed at specified times. 

Image size
1500x2266px 3.18 MB
Shutter Speed
1/64 second
Focal Length
55 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jan 7, 2009, 8:41:37 PM
Sensor Size
© 2018 - 2020 coricancha
anonymous's avatar
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SirGodspeed's avatar
What's the orb/disk in front of his mouth?
coricancha's avatar
coricanchaProfessional General Artist

it's a nose ornament made of green stone and gold. The ceramics of this area show that such ornaments were quite big.

Serujio22's avatar
Serujio22Hobbyist Digital Artist
Splendid, magnificent work, I was waiting for it thanks!
coricancha's avatar
coricanchaProfessional General Artist

Glad you like it. You are very very welcome.

ucumari's avatar

Extraordinario, ver como esos ornamentos eran usados para impresionar, la figura se torna majestuosa, aunque creo que deben haber sido muy incomodos y supongo que se usaban solo en los momentos más solemnes

coricancha's avatar
coricanchaProfessional General Artist

Exactly! Such a costume was very uncomfortable. Can also be seen with the Maya of the Classic Period, who sometimes wore headdresses that were as tall as the wearer. In everyday life lords like him probably wore very comfortable clothes, as can be seen in the case of the Moche. As always, a valuable scholarly commentary. Thank you!

GregMele's avatar
Wow that is dramatic! And about a culture I have never heard or!
coricancha's avatar
coricanchaProfessional General Artist

Yes, it’s a shame that the coastal Ecuadoran cultures are so little-known, As user llamahnter20 says, they were probably the greatest seafarers in the Pre-Columbian Americas, with their balsa-raft voyages all the way to western Mexico. They also excelled in metallurgy. For example, they worked on platinum. It’s always a matter of visibility. Compared with the ancient societies of the Central Andes or Mesoamerica their architecture was less monumental, and was mainly made of wood, meaning there is less preserved. But the iconography tell us a lot about how these buildings originally looked: quite impressive.

GregMele's avatar
Are there any sources you could point me to? I would be quite interested in learning more and getting a feel for what their civilization looked like. 

I hope you will be doing more illustrations for this society!
coricancha's avatar
coricanchaProfessional General Artist

As an introduction to this culture I would recommend the following online article:…

It gives a good idea of the great ceramics. There are also some interesting books or book articles/in-depth studies:

Francisco Valdez 1992: Symbols, Ideology and the Expression of Power in La Tolita, Ecuador, in Richard F. Townsend: The Ancient Americas

Yves Sabolo 1986: Tumaco (in French language), focus on ceramics

Maria A. Masucci 2008:  Early Regional Polities of Coastal Ecuador, in H. Silverman and W. Isbell, Handbook of South American Archaeology (which is available online, either as pdf or on google books):…

The best book regarding their stunning metalwork:

L’or de dieux, l’or des andes 1994, exhibition catalogue (in French language)

There is also a nice Blog:…

“I hope you will be doing more illustrations for this society!” I will, and thank you for your interest in this great culture. 

GregMele's avatar
Fantastic! Thank you for the leads!
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