A monumental Marajo urn, ca. A.D. 700-1000
with raised images of sacred caimans.
Private Collection, Belem, Para, Brazil, 1940-1980
Lions Collection, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 1980-1992
Private Collection, Geneva, 1992-2005
Imported to US via US Customs Commercial Entry, New York, NY, 2005
"Vanishing Worlds", Houston Museum of Natural Science, September 30, 2009 March 1, 2010, Loan # 43.2008
TL test available and dating indicates a manufacture circa 900 AD.
There are certainly less than ten examples, with this style being unique in this size (smaller examples are known) and probably points to a regional variation. This variation in the application of techniques and colors seems to be geographically oriented among the mounds on the island. All of these ceramics have been found buried in mounds which were artificially created by the ancient cultures to provide relief from seasonal flooding. With the establishment of such mounded villages along watercourses and dry season lakes, the Marajo culture was able to exploit a veritable Eden as many visitors and explorers have commented. They practiced secondary urn burial and this urn can be likened to a sarcophagi wherein the previous inhabitant is no longer due to wet soil decomposition. Amazingly they were buried to their rim which was covered by an undecorated, inverted shallow bowl, so the decoration was not seen, only known and exhibited at internment. Images of sacred Caimans, the largest predator in the ecosystem, who were the creatures upon whom the world rested, are most prevalent and seen here in rare incised design.
Examples are rare in the large size. Examples are shown in Dora Jannsens collection, now at Musee Royeaux in Brussells and published twice; the Barbier-Muller Museum; Museo Goeldi in Belem, Para, Brazil which has the largest and finest collection; and a large example at Brooklyn Museum.
cf. "Tresors Du Nouveau Monde", Deletaille, Emile and Lin, Brussells, 1992, Musees Royeaux d'Art et d'Histoire, figure 457.