Jar

Jar

A.D. 400-1300
Culture
Marajó
Locale
Marajó Island
Country
Brazil
jar
Earthenware with colored slip
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer
2006.15A-B
. Jar. A.D. 400-1300. Earthenware with colored slip. Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer. 2006.15A-B.
This object is currently on view
Dimensions
height: 16 3/4 in, 42.5450 cm; diameter: 11 3/8 in, 28.8925 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Collection
Art of the Ancient Americas

Jar
About A.D. 400–1300
Brazil, Marajó Island
Earthenware with colored slips
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2006.15A&B

Much of Marajó Island, located at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil, is flooded during each year’s rainy season. The island’s inhabitants built large earthen mounds to elevate their homes, ceremonial areas and cemeteries above the floodwaters. Marajó people manufactured elaborately decorated ceramics for use as burial urns, storage and serving vessels, stools, and female public covers.

This large jar may have served as a burial container for cleaned human bones, or it may have stored food and beverages for elite or ceremonial usage. The decoration, carved through the red-slipped surface, is intricate. Two repeats of two motifs alternate around the vessel’s cylindrical body, their complex boundaries interlocking with one another. One motif consists of a vertically oriented creature with two rectangular heads and a long, slender body. The other motif incorporates a central square from which radiate two rectangular heads and two triangular heads. Aquatic creatures such as caimans, turtles and snakes were commonly carved on Marajó ceramics.