MAE - Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of the
University of São Paulo celebrates its 25th anniversary in the
same year we commemorate the 80th anniversary of USP. The MAE houses
collections that reflect production of knowledge in three areas that are
fundamental to and in the formation of Brazilian culture: contemporary and
past references of the history of Indigenous peoples’ culture in Brazil and
other American areas, the expressions of African and Afro-Brazilian cultures,
heritage from Greek and Roman antiquity and from Middle-Eastern
societies. The archaeological, ethnographic and museum collections, as
well as knowledge produced based on their study, are the foundations for
graduate and undergraduate teaching and give essential support for culture
and extension activities. The exhibition Olhares Cruzados nos Museus da
USP: Identidades Diversas[Intercrossed Views in USP’s Museums: Diverse
Identities] presents a small portion of its significant collection, giving an
example of the knowledge produced in the fields of Brazilian, precolumbian
and classical archaeology, Brazilian and African ethnology. The discussion
on cultural identity is based on the collections that represent different
human groups in time and space, revealing histories, cultural and environmental
Mato Grosso / Bororo / Feathers / MAE USP Collection
Vertical wheel-shaped diadem. In this diadem, the clan that made it is represented in the second row of feathers. It is used in the name-giving of newborns, initiation of boys and dance in funerary cycles of Bororo indigenous people (MT).
Zamble Mask :top:
Ivory Coast / Guro / Wood / MAE USP Collection
The zamble mask is a facial mask, complemented by clothing made out of vegetable fibers, animal fur and fabric, that is, formed by elements from nature and others made by men, such as fabric and the mask itself. Zamble is also the name of a half-human and half-animal being (“fast as a panther, intelligent as a man and elegant as an antelope”), that appeared to a hunter (the traditional economy of the Guro is based on hunting). Amazed by the being, the Hunter made a mask as a tribute, and it is used in a dance that imitates how it walks and jumps. This mask is used in the funerals of wise men, and currently is also seen in popular festivities.
Akuaba Statuette or “Fertility Doll” :top:
Ghana / Ashanti / Wood / MAE USP Collection
These wooden statuettes are characterized by the forms of the head and of the body that represent the ideal of beauty for the Ashanti of Ghana. It is used both by pregnant women who wish to have “bright and well-formed” children and by little girls as toys; it became an educational object to prepare them for their biological and social roles (being a woman and a mother). This is why it is called “statuette of fertility.” This relationship woman/land, land/fertility and woman/fertility expressed in this object is common in other African cultures.
Anthropomorphic Statuette – Iguape Idol :top:
Cananéia, SP, between 500 and 8000 years / Sambaqui culture / Lithic / MAE USP Collection
Found near the sambaqui [shell mound] of Morro Grande (currently Juréia Ecological Reserve), in Cananéia, in the southern portion of the São Paulo State, by the researcher Richard Krone, in 1906. Polished stone sculptures in the shape of animals, such as fish and birds, and more rarely of people, were placed in human burials by fisher-gatherer groups that inhabited the coast of São Paulo and of southern states of Brazil (Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul). These groups lived in the southeast-south coast between 500 and 8000 years and built sambaquis, a type of archeological site formed by the remains of animals, such as fish and mollusks, 500 and 8000 years, burials, stone, shell, bone and animal teeth artefacts, till shortly before the arrival of the Portugueses in Brazil, in 1500. Stone sculptures were part of the funerary ritual of these human groups and were buried with the dead in these sambaquis, together with other artifacts.
Female skull :top:
Guarujá, SP, 3900 years / Sambaquieira culture / MAE USP Collection
Female skull found in the Maratuá sambaqui in the Island of Santo Amaro (city of Guarujá, São Paulo) by a team coordinated by Paulo Duarte, member of the Prehistory Commission, in the 1950s, and known as “Miss Sambaqui.” This skull belonged to a woman that was part of fisher-gatherer groups that inhabited the coast of São Paulo. Surrounding the skull there were many small shells (Olivella), adornments that were part of the funerary ritual and were buried with her. This skull is an important symbol of the occupation of the Brazilian coast by fisher-gatherer groups in the past.
© 2015 Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo