Funerary urn in the shape of a fruit

Mid-Cauca (Quimbaya) - Early Period-500/700

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

The societies of the Mid Cauca of the first centuries of our era deposited the ashes of their deceased in fine cylindrical urns like this one, covered with bowls. Frequently these cylindrical urns and others shaped more as balloons presented volutes evoking organic shapes of some pumpkins. These shapes were also common to the poporos or receptacles for lime identifying the magnificent goldwork of the period. It is interesting to see that next to the urns inspired in these fruits there are other pieces representing feminine figures with bulging bellies, squatting as if they were going to give birth. There is a suggestion of an urn-uterus symbolism and consequently a circular or cyclic conception of life and death. This cyclic conception is also implied in the custom of incinerating the bodies in many cultures throughout the world: to burn the body until it turns into ashes is a way of returning the deceased to the origin, to an initial embryo or seed stage, so it may be born or germinate again. The presence of pumpkin shapes next to the squatting women could mean a sort of symbolic identity among both representations. MAU


  • Title: Funerary urn in the shape of a fruit
  • Creator: Mid-Cauca (Quimbaya) - Early Period
  • Creator Lifespan: -486/700
  • Creator Nationality: Colombia
  • Creator Death Place: Colombia
  • Creator Birth Place: Colombia
  • Date: -500/700
  • Physical Dimensions: w220 x h282 mm
  • Type: Ceramic
  • External Link: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
  • Technique: Modeling in clay
  • Finding: Colombia, Quindío, Montenegro
  • Accession number: C00711

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