700 – 1532 A.C.E.
The Capulí, who pertain to an ethnic group of the plains located in northern Ecuador and southern Colombia, are also known as the “negative of Carchi” because of their ceramics decorated with negative color.
This technique consisted of applying a resistant material decorated in distinct shapes on the paint on the walls of the surface, after the first firing of the clay. The piece was placed in some type of organic solution, perhaps a mixture of soot and honey, which only covered the areas on which the resistant material had not been put, and then the piece was exposed once more to heat to seal the organic paint. Upon removing the protective layer, the figures appeared in negative.
This treatment was used for the range of cups and vessels that make up their body of work in ceramics. The human figure was prominent in various ways on their containers. They made reproductions of their houses, houses which had rounded walls possibly to provide protection from the cold and to conserve warmth, since as far as we know they inhabited areas in the cold and windy high Andes and upper plains.
It appears that Capulí ceramics were used for special rituals by shamans, or priests, and then buried with them as part of their funerary trousseau, where they are found in profusion. An abundance of plates and saucers have been found with tall, low and medium feet in human, vegetable and animal forms, including marine snails that served as musical wind instruments. Also found buried are delicately crafted pieces of gold used for personal adornment, rattles in golden copper, and items from the sea such as snails, shells and.
You can view this piece and more like it in our Quito Museum. Purchase your own unique Ecuadorian art in one of our 5 shops in mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos during your next Ecuador tour. If you are interested in learning more about Ecuadorian culture and the history of Ecuador, please visit our Art in Ecuador page for many great articles about each region’s artisans and arts.