Plate in the Form of a Turtle Shell
Brazil, Marajó Island
White-slip painted ceramic
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2006.11
Marajo Island is a huge (50,000 Square Kilometer) territory at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. For about 1000 years (AD 500 - 1500), the northeastern portion of the island was densely inhabited with hierarchical societies. Large earthen mounds were occupied by the elite who carried out elaborate funerary rituals there. Richly decorated urns contained secondary burial remains, while vessels, figurines and other items were deposited as offerings.
This plate is modeled in the form of a turtle's carapace, decorated on the interior in the Anajás White Incised style. Turtles were and are an important food source for Amazonian peoples, and figure prominently in the lore and mythology. This bowl is coated with cream-colored slip. After drying, the artist incised the design through the slip to reveal the underlying clay body. The interlocking spirals and ticked lines are characteristic of the Anajás White Incised style.