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 Triton, Greek god, messenger of the seas.

Iconographic meaning

Puppet representing Tritao, as a character in the epic "Os Lusíadas" (The Lusiads). Triton was a mythological Greek god who was messenger of the sea.

Physical description

String puppet (marioneta) of the character Triton, Greek god, messenger of the seas. Puppet is paper mache, with an orange face, large plastic green eyes, heavy brow, long drooping nose, large lips and pointed chin. Scalp is blue-green with several small fins. Neck is a ball that allows the head to rotate in all directions. Chest is human-like, while back is covered by several large fins. Hands are orange with 4 fingers each. Bottom of body is made up of clear plastic tubing and masses of white, textured plastic sheeting. Puppet is controlled by a set of large plastic covered wooden sticks, with marionette strings attached to the head, shoulders and hands.