COASTAL, ON-LINE ISSUE 03.
By Mark Bradbur.
Photos: Courtesy of Mark Bradbury
The Bahía Culture (500 BC – 500 AD) was a pre-Columbian culture of Ecuador, originating in what is now the Manabí Province on the Pacific Coast, and spread from Bahía de Caráquez to the Andean foothills to the east.
Their ceramic tradition was one of the first found north of the Andes. Merchants traded finished goods and shells, south to Chile and north as far as Mexico in exchange for precious materials such as copper and gold.
The men, judging from the numerous figurines found, wore up to four pairs of earrings on each ear, beaded necklaces, bracelets, and ornaments for their ankles and on their knees, etc.
Their homes were built of wood or cane, with a thatched roof or palm leaves. They were ruled by a chief, and were primarily farmers, growing corn as a major crop. They also engaged in fishing and hunting but were also traders.
Their craftsmen developed important techniques for the treatment of gold, using it to make ornate masks and other jewelry. Necklaces and bracelets were made by using the Spondylus seashells. They also had great skill in working with ceramics, since many ornate figurines have been discovered. Many of the larger figures are thought to have been shamans or priests. Their potters also created simple globular vessels for cooking or eating, and there are many examples of larger bowls with dragon heads and intertwined snakes, thought to be religious artifacts.
It is thought that the Bahia culture was absorbed by the larger Manteño culture. The Manteños ruled from the Bahia de Caraquez area all the way south to what is now Guayaquil and Puna Island. They were the last pre-Columbian culture before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s. They disappeared into the mountains and countryside, evolving into what we now call the Montuvios, still present today, who represent the third largest ethnic group in all of Ecuador. The Montuvians are famous horsemen and are known to be the best horse trainers in Ecuador.
Information and photos were courtesy of the Encyclopedia del Ecuador.
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