Chris and I stumbled upon a free ceramics museum in Granada called Mi Museo. I am not one to turn down free museums, so of course we had to go in! I found out at the end that I could take pictures, so I took pictures of a few of the older pieces that I liked.
Some of the pieces looked very much like the typical pottery you see in museums, but I have to say I was truly surprised by one part of the exhibit. Any idea what these are for?
Apparently, the indigenous tribe living near the pacific coast of what is now Nicaragua as well as Costa Rica used these large clay pots as burial urns. But they were not used for the first burial. Bodies were buried in the ground first. Then, when only bones remained, they were dug up and reburied in these urns, sometimes with other possessions. For those of you who speak Spanish, you can read the original sign below. Otherwise, I am including my own translation below.
*Please let it be noted that I am not a translator and I have taken some liberties with the wording as well as the elimination of repetition. While I in no way want to critique the great work done by the museum, the level of writing in this sign makes translation a bit more challenging.
Sacasa Striated Type Funeral Urns
Sacasa striated type funeral urns have been found in the Pacific zone of Nicaragua and Guanacaste, Costa Rica. As a result of various scientific investigations, ceramics of this type have been dated back to the period between 800 AD and 1520 AD.
Our ancestors preformed two types of burials, which have been named the primary burial and the secondary burial. In the first, the individual was buried lying down with funerary offerings. However, in the secondary burial the individual was unearthed from the original burial place and the bones were deposited in a funerary urn which was then buried with its offerings.
It is worth noting that the bigger urns have been found to contain the remains of adults but infants were found in some of the smaller urns. On some occasions a series of objects were included for the dead as funerary offerings. These objects could be personal items such as necklaces and ear spools, hunting weapons, everyday objects, such as spools for spinning wool, and food, or objects which distinguished the individual’s social status such as monochromatic or polychromatic precious ceramics, and precious stones like jade.
The funerary urns themselves are in the shape of a shoe, but if we observe them from another point of view, they take the form of a pregnant woman’s womb on which we find many decorations. For example, we find the representation of what could be an umbilical cord, the fallopian tubes, stretch marks from after pregnancy and the faces of recently born children. Furthermore, there are decorations in the form of scars which suggests that our ancestors may have preformed cesarean sections.
Perhaps our aboriginal people believed in a second opportunity at life in which they could be reborn through burial in these womb-shaped urns.