Indigenous Brazil

ScepterMuseu Nacional

Testamentary legacy of Cerqueira Lima, Baron of Melgaço, to the National Museum, probably part of the set of Parintintim scepters that were part of the 77 set of the Gabriel Soares Room, in the Anthropological Exhibition of 1882.

Mother-of-pearl necklaceMuseu Nacional

Mother of Pearl necklace

Adornment belonging to the Guido Boggiani Collection. The adoption of Guido — a young Bororo adopted by a white family in the 19th Century — happened after the Mello Rego family’s contact with a group of “pacified” indigenous Bororo by the captain Antonio José Duarte. His adoptive mother, Maria do Carmo Mello Rego, created an ethnographic collection of the indigenous peoples of Mato Grosso, donated to the National Museum by testamentary legacy in 1895.

Anthropomorphic wooden masksMuseu Nacional

Anthropomorphous wood masks

Aweti, Waurá and Mehináku groups.

In the decade of 1940 an anthropological investigation work about the richness of the high-xinguanas' fauna, flora, and culture, was initiated and lead by the researchers of the National Museum under the management of Heloisa Alberto Torres.
As part of this research, in the Ethnology field, were Eduardo Galvão and Pedro Lima, collectors of masks catalogued under the numbers 35.226 and 35.330, in the years of 1947 and 1948. A mask number 39.400 belongs to the Thomas Gregor collection, of 1974.

Mask TikunaMuseu Nacional

This was one of the Tikuna masks observed and drawn by Debret during the French Artistic Mission (1816-1831) and published in his work Viagem Pitoresca e Histórica ao Brasil (“Picturesque and Historic Voyage to Brazil”)(1834-39). One of the highlights of the 18th Century collections at the National Museum.

MaskMuseu Nacional

Piece acquired by sir Haeckel Tavares, who purchased it from Frei Fidelis, a missionary at the High Solimões, in March of 1945.

Feather strapMuseu Nacional

Feather Strap

Mundurukú Group

Vase painted KadiwéuMuseu Nacional

Kadiwéu painted vase

Probably part of the Guido Boggiani Collection, at the end of the 19th Century.

Shield of UaupésMuseu Nacional

Uaupés Shield

Braided Tukano shield

“Rare object, so much that there are many in the province that ignore its usefulness. Well woven, it resists the tip of a taquara or Curabi; light, does not make the carrier tired, and it can be managed as a good weapon of defense; easily portable, does not disturb the path.” Gonçalves Dias, Amazonas exhibit, 1861.

Bororo potMuseu Nacional

Bororo Pot

Pot with spheroidal salience, collected by Cristofer Croker during a field research of the Harvard project— Central Brazil Research in the decade of 1960.

DollMuseu Nacional


Artisan: Xuréia.

Piece collected by Maria Heloisa Fenélon Costa, in 1959, as part of her studies on the artistic styles of the Karajá ceramics. The piece has a modern style, with loose and mobile members, strong visibility for the body painting and traditional hairstyle of the Karajá Indians.

Feather coif with mantleMuseu Nacional

Feather hood with mantle

Mundurukú group.

Comb with feather pendantMuseu Nacional

Comb with feather pendant

Tukano artifact.

Frontal feather bandMuseu Nacional

Frontal feather band

Masculine adornment, made by the Tukano group, used over the forehead and tied to the nape as part of a set of head adornments.

Karaja's basket for offalMuseu Nacional

Karajá basket for oddments

Braided straw case.

Piece collected by the writer of A Noite ("The Night”), Lincolm de Souza, and gifted to colonel Leony de Oliveira Machado, who donated it to the Museum in June of 1948.

Bocodori-inogMuseu Nacional


Giant armadillo nail necklace.

This piece is part of a collection by the Rondon Commission among the Bororo, realized in 1923. It entered the museum in 1924.

Tikuna potMuseu Nacional

Tikuna pot

Tikuna water pot with ornaments in relief: jaguar and alligator.

Collected by Curt Nimuendajú in 1941.
The largest collection of the Ethnology Sector is Curt Nimuendajú’s, with over three thousand items. The Tikuna collection, of 1942, has 205 items. Nimuendajú collected artifacts and ethnological pieces among various indigenous groups, maintaining constant contact with the National Museum through its director, Heloisa Alberto Torres, who acquired the collections.

Occipital Plates with FeathersMuseu Nacional

Occipital plates with plumes

Adornments of the Tukano group, used on the backside of the head, tied to the frontal band, accompanied by other adornments.
The use of this combination is restricted to men. Pieces donated to the National Museum by Visconde de Paranaguá. They were part of the Anthropological Exhibition of 1882 and are in the list of donations by the nobility published in articles in Jornal do Comércio (“Commerce Newspaper”) about the preparations for the exhibition.

Karajá dollMuseu Nacional

Karajá Doll

Ceramics and Wax.

Sculpture made after the traditional standards of the confection of children’s dolls.
Collected by William Lipkind in 1939. During the management of Heloisa Alberto Torres, an agreement was made between the University of Columbia, in the United States, and the National Museum, to co-sponsor ethnological studies in Brazil.
In the scope of this agreement, several ethnologists came here, Lipkind being among them. None of these professionals stayed very long in the Museum, but Heloisa tried to make the most out of their short stay to train young researchers to acquire collections for the Museum.

BraceletMuseu Nacional


Set of feather artifacts, part of the Mundurukú collection, sent in 1830 to the Museum in boxes without a content list. It probably comes from a collection of the Langsdorff Expedition, as several boxes with pieces collected for this exhibition stayed in the state of Pará to be sent in future opportunities.
Through a comparison of the habits described in the travel journal of the French polygraph and drawer Hercule Florence, one can connect this collection to the Mundurukú of Santarém in 1829. There is still, in a document of the General Archive of the National Museum, an information that the boxes sent without a list were classified by Antonio Correia de Lacerda.

Basket (Baquité) NambikwáraMuseu Nacional

Basket (Baquité) Nambikwára

One of the biggest collections of the Ethnology Sector of the National Museum is the Rondon Commission collection, with circa1,500 items. As Rondon advanced over indigenous territory, his team would collect and send to the National Museum pieces and artifacts from various groups. This piece was part of a collection from among the Nambikwára in June of 1929.
The contact of the Rondon Commission with the Nambikwára was described by Roquette Pinto (ex-director of the National Museum that at the time occupied the naturalist position in the Anthropology Section), in his book Rondônia, in 1912.

Credits: Story

Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner

Cristiana Silveira Serejo

Wagner William Martins
Lygia Dolores Ribeiro de Santiago Fernandes
Luiz Fernando Duarte

Antonio Ricardo Pereira de Andrade
Valéria Maria Fonseca de Lima
Marci Fileti Martins
Lydia Maria Gomes da Silva
Lorrana Gonçalves de Alcântara
Déborah Rezende Gouvêa
Christina Aparecida de Lélis

Rômulo Fialdini
Valentino Fialdini

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Google apps