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. 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 O Infante Don Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator, 1394-1460), King of Portugal.

Iconographic meaning

Puppet representing Infante D. Henrique (King Henry the Navigator; first king of Portugal), as a character in "Os Lusíadas" (The Lusiads).

Physical description

String puppet (marioneta) representing the character O Infante Don Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator, 1394-1460), King of Portugal, dressed in a black felt hat with wide brim and long trailing portion, a long black tunic and a long heavy felt coat with silver buttons, tied at the waist with a black rope. Cuffs are decorated with long lines of small black buttons, while front is closed with large dark silver buttons. Boots are short and pointed. Hands and face are delicately carved and very detailed. The face is lined with wrinkles on cheeks and forehead, a large thick nose protrudes, mouth is pink and slightly open, eyes are painted brown under grey brows. Black hair peeks out from under the hat. Puppet is moved by a wooden control stick, with marionette strings attached to head, shoulders, hands and knees.