A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - The Jama-Coaque Culture developed from 500 BC - 500 AD and was named for the modern towns of Jama and Coaque located in the Manabí Province, in the coastal region of Ecuador
Shaman‘s Table. Culture Jama-Coaque 500 BC - 1530 AD. Image: National Institute of Cultural Heritage of Ecuador
In Jama, a town located in the Manabi Province, archaeological excavations revealed ancient secrets and fascinating heritage of the culture that is now lost.
Jama-Coaque people were very skilled seafarers who used canoes made of balsa wood to navigate the waters of the Pacific Ocean and according to ancient records, they used to organize trade expeditions to Mexico and Chile.
These people were also skilled in textile manufacturing, weaving , and a variety of crafts were practiced including ceramics, metallurgy, woodcarving, leather working and basketry.
The culture is widely known for its ceramic vessels and creative ornamentation of their mold-made figurines probably created for ritual purposes. These people really loved richly ornamented pottery and produced artifacts depicting hunters, warriors with spectacular headdresses and priests involved in complicated rituals and houses with facades decorated with ornamental moldings.
Some figures are parts of vessels, but most of them are freestanding. However, the backs of the figures were made by hand and not well finished, indicating that the figures were meant to be seen only from the front.
"The stamps are pieces of pottery (clay), cylindrical and flat, of different sizes ranging from 16cm high and 4 cm wide to 2cm high and... 1 cm wide,.. with relief drawings and completely smooth surface.” (Maria Ines Gonzalez del Real, Argentina's artist)"
Probably in this particular culture, like no other, there are so many artifacts depicting musicians and dancers, who surely represent the tribe’s ceremonial leaders or shamans, dressed in large and colorful headdresses decorated with birds and agricultural products,and elaborate costumes decorated with animal skins and bird feathers.
Mysterious full-face masks, clothing flaps, pectorals, nose rings and ear spools are seen on seated ceramic figurines.
The hollow figurines portray individuals representing high status.
The Jama Coaque pottery enjoys recognized reputation for the quality of its manufacture and undoubtedly, their ceramic artifacts suggest some degree of craft specialization, which means they were not created by occasional artists.
Who the unknown craftsmen were, it is unknown. Archaeological evidence for workshops in the area inhabited by the Jama-Coaque, has not been found.
The Jama-Coaque culture is among several other Pre-Columbian cultures, which still hold many ancient secrets that have yet to be revealed.
Written by – A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com Senior Staff Writer