Gourd bowl decorated with pigments. 19th century AD. South America (possibly Brazil). Ethnology, Beal-Steere Collection. UMMAA 7460.

Zoologist Joseph Beal Steere collected this intricately painted bowl along the Amazon in Brazil or Peru during his 1870–1875 collecting expedition. It is one of a number of decorated gourd artifacts he collected. Dried gourds are lightweight and less fragile than ceramics, and wild or domestic gourds were commonly used among Amazonian communities for storage containers, canteens, or drinking bowls. The elaborate decoration in browns and gold on the interior of this object might indicate that its use was more for display than for practical purposes.

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In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.