Dr. Wendy Salmond
During the Portuguese rule of Dom Pedro II until 1889, through the years of the First Brazilian Republic (1889-1930) and into the First Vargas Regime (1930-1945), Brazil struggled to solidify a strong national identity that would finally unify the country and legitimize its rich cultural heritage. The discovery and excavation of Marajó Island in the 1870s provided evidence of a great, ancient civilization, and inspired Brazilian Art Deco and early Modernist artists. Polychrome ceramic urns, vessels, and tangas (female pubic covers) were among the most abundant archaeological finds, many with zoomorphic and geometric motifs that show the cultural importance of various animals and stages of life. By understanding the cosmology and iconography of Marajoara ceramics, the ceramics, furniture, architecture and painting created from the late 1890s until the 1930s can be viewed from a perspective more in line with the original context of the ancient motifs used. The borrowing of the Marajoara style by Brazilian Art Deco artists, and the sheer multitude of artistic products made in this period, therefore reflects an interest in native cosmology and an overarching political desire to adopt Brazil's primitive roots as part of its national identity.
Brandes, Alyson, "Rediscovering Brazil: The Marajoara Style in Modernist Art and Design" (2019). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 336.