Thursday, 16 July 2009

Stone amulet (muiraquitã) in the form of a frog

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Muiraquitãs are small amulets made from transluscent gemstones. They were charms for good fortune, presented as gifts on special occasions. Some of the creatures portrayed by these charms, such as fish, turtles and especially frogs, stand for women's fertility and power in Amazonian culture. In one legend a powerful tribe of women warriors presented these small treasures to men who gave them daughters, but nothing to men who gave them sons. Other legends say that young boys would catch small fish and frogs at their coming of age ceremonies, and these creatures were turned into rocks.

Ancient pottery figurines of women from the Santarém region are shown wearing such charms, suggesting that they were meant to help them have children. The charms passed along the Amazon waterways, probably as gifts exchanged between communities. They were highly valued as powerful and attractive ornaments.

Other Views: muiraquitã in the form of a fish, also a symbol of fertility in Amazonia. Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, inv. no. X641.

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