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Manteño censer

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Dated: 800-1532

Cultural Context: Manteña style

Origin: Ecuador (South America)

Medium: Clay

Technique: Modelled, Incised, Burnished, Appliqué

Dimensions: Height = 38.30 cm; Base: Diameter = 21 cm; Mouth: Diameter = 23 cm

Inventory no.: 03770

Ceremonial sculptural vessel depicting a male figure, hands on knees, seated on a stool which in turn sits on a bell-shaped pedestal. The figure is adorned with a large saucer-shaped headdress, a geometric necklace, earspools, nose flares and wristbands. This sculptural vessel corresponds to a type characteristic of the Manteño culture that has been incorrectly termed the "censer” type due to its hollow shape and structure. They depict priestly-looking young male figures seated on seats set on a bell-shaped base. At other times, the figures seem to depict old men; in these cases, they are depicted chewing coca, with a bulging cheek. Although there is little information on the archaeological context in which the pieces currently in private and museum collections were found, it is likely that they represented shamans and were destined for the grave goods of local elite figures. Characteristic of this culture, as can be seen in this example, are the U-shaped thrones, which were a symbol of status and of political and religious power. The archaeology and ethnography of the Intermediate Area have shown a long tradition of the use of these "seats of power" by shamans.