Vessels like this, supported by modelled figures, seem to show how the ancient people of Santarém saw spiritual beings in their trances and visions.
It is difficult to tell what these vessels were used for. Archaeologists suggest that they may have been used to serve a drink which men used to go into a trance and communicate with the spirit world. The modelled figures supporting the bowl may be intended to show the experience of the trance. As you turn the vessel, the humans seem to change to birds and then back again, perhaps as they would during a vision.It was normally only men who would take the drugs and communicate with spirits. This may explain why the crouching female figures on this vessel are covering their eyes, showing that women were not allowed even to see such religious ceremonies.
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