or Neck Pillow
The Ngaru’a were usually basalt shingle rocks from the floor of the sea which were called Poro. They are rather dark, smooth and very hard. Their sizes ranged to a maximum length of 13.5 cm (5.5 inches), a width up to 18 cm (7 in.) and a thickness between 3.7 and 10 cm (1.5 and 4 in.). They could weigh between 0.8 and 5.3 kilograms (1 lb, 12 oz. And 11 lb, 11 oz). They usually had carvings on both sides and edges which might represent the bird-man, the Ao or staff of power and fertility symbols (Komari) or other zoomorphic petroglyphs. There have been no ethnographic explanations for the carvings, but they are a material expression of a rich symbolism and the importance of dreams in the Polynesian world. The Ngaru’a are one of the household artifacts associated with the highest social rank.
According to Jaime Errázurriz-Z. in his book “Cuenca del Pacífico: 4,000 Años de Contactos Culturales” (“The Pacific Basin: 4,000 Years of Cultural Contact”), this ancient tradition appeared in the Americas, specifically in what is now Ecuador, and was found only within the cultures of the coast of Central South America: Guangala, Bahía and Jama-Coaque. He mentions as an example a neck pillow from the Jama-Coaque which is similar to a design from the Chinese Song Period (960 -1279), in which both show a reclining woman holding a small plaque. Para Emilio Estrada, who is considered the discoverer of the Valdivia culture, the only reasonable explanation for the presence of neck pillows in Ecuador is that Asians crossed the Pacific Ocean. If that is so, it is also probable that they reached more than a few of the islands of Polynesia on the way.
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