* A fine Valdivia Abstract Stone Figure, Ecuador, 2300-2000 BC


of pearly grey stone, slight wedge shape stylized bird is one of the unique types of artifacts produced by the Valdivian culture. Narrow at the top, with two recessed inverted U grooves representing the eye area comprising two center square pupils. With a horizontal line, deep grooves defining the neck and torso with diagonal markings by the feet.

Ancient stone steles from Ecuador, such as this example, are the oldest stone sculptures known to exist in the New World.  They date back from as far as 3000 BC and while each stele is unique, there are some common characteristics.  They are all made from the same pearly grey sandstone and are also fairly uniform in their "blockish" form.  The steles have four common themes: the owl, the serpent/arrow, the sun chart and the star chart.  A consistent aspect of the owl stele is the formation of the eyes always done like the capital letter "B" that is on its side.   Valdivian artisans’ ability to make precise cuts, grooves and corners in the stone without modern tools shows a great deal of skill.  The resulting sculptures, while among the earliest in the Americas, appear remarkably modern. This is an exquisite example of the owl stele.  A guardian figure, it was believed that the owl was a mystical creature of the night that had the ability to fly to other worlds and was therefore very closely associated with the Shaman.  

Dimensions:  Height: 19.35 cm (7.6 inches)   Width:  7.62 cm (3.7 inches)

Condition:  Intact and in excellent condition overall.  Custom mounted.

Provenance:  S.B. private, collection Chicago, acquired from the NY trade in 2001 and previously in a private Michigan collection.  

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