marioneta (String Puppet)

About this object

History of use

Ten marionettes were made especially by Jorge Cerqueira for the Museum of Anthropology collection (see #2956/293-300 & #3105/1-2). These marionetas (string puppets) represent key characters—historical heroes and gods, sultans and kings, the dangerous storm, Adamastor, and the beautiful goddess, Venus, dressed in crimson—from the Portuguese epic, The Lusiads (1572). Written by the one-eyed adventurer and beloved poet, Luís de Camões, The Lusiads tells of the Portuguese discovery of a sea route to the East. The hero of the fantastical tale is the explorer, Vasco da Gama, who is either aided or opposed on his voyage by the Roman gods: Jupiter, Bacchus, Neptune and Venus. En route, Vasco da Gama’s fleet is welcomed by the Sultan of Malindi (Kenya) and bravely battles Adamastor, the gigantic storm, before arriving in India and meeting Monsayeed, the ruler of Calcutta (now Kolkata). Setting sail again, the Portuguese explorers stop to feast on the Isle of Love and afterwards journey on through the Indian Ocean, visiting parts of Asia and Africa. This character represents Vasco de Gama (c.1460-1524).

Iconographic meaning

Puppet representing Vasco da Gama. As a character in "Os Lusíadas" (The Lusiads), da Gama is The Captain.

Physical description

String puppet (marioneta) of the character Vasco da Gama. He is richly dressed, with pants and tunic of brocade covered by a knee length cloak of blue velvet edged in fur and a matching hat. His boots are tall, folding over at the knee. A wide, braided belt of leather holds a sheathed wooden sword (part b) painted silver and gold. His face is bearded, and eyes are shiny silver plastic. Hands and face are delicately carved and very detailed. Puppet is moved by a wooden control stick, with marionette strings attached to head, shoulders, hands and knees.