Terracotta pitcher "Kaliña"

385 €

17th to 19th century, Kaliña peoples, Coppername River, Tibiti Creek, Grand Creek and Poika Creek districts or Para District, Lower Commewyne, Cotica, and Surinam Rivers, and Matta Savanna, Suriname (Dutch Guiana), private collection from Netherlands.

The Kali'na (also called Kali'na, Cariña, Kariña, Kalihna, Kalinya) also known as the Caribs. Mainland Caribs are an indigenous people native to the northern coastal areas of South America. The Kali’na, like other peoples from the same linguistic family, probably originate from the outlying region of Mount Roraima (Brazil and Venezuela) but they lived on the coast during their first contact with the Europeans in the 16th century. Kali'na may distinguish themselves as true Kali'na (Kali'na tilewuyu), partly to differentiate themselves from the mixed Maroon-Kali'na inhabitants of Suriname. Today, the Kali'na live largely in villages on the rivers and coasts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil. They speak a Cariban language known as Carib.

Kali'na are a strong presence on the left bank of the Maroni River and on the banks of the Coppename River. A large proportion of the population lives in the Para District often in villages shared with the Lokono people. The main settlement are Bernharddorp, Wit-Santi, Galibi, Powakka and Bigi Ston. The Kali'na lived in the same area as the colonizers, and have a peace treaty with Suriname since 1686. The part of South America where the Kali'na live is very sparsely populated. However, the people of this ethnic group are such an extreme minority in all of the countries in which they are well established that locally they are a majority only in certain very secluded areas. Their current geographic distribution covers only a small fraction of their Pre-Columbian territory.

In their first contact with Europeans, the Kali'na thought they were dealing with the spirits of the sea, Palanakiłi, a name they use to this day when referring to whites. One of the first consequences of the arrival of Europeans, as in the case of many other Native American peoples, was a decrease in population due to violence inflicted by European soldiers genocide, and diseases brought over by the Europeans. The Kali'na quickly succumbed in large numbers, because their immune systems were not adapted to the viruses and bacteria of the Old World.

Among the Kali'na women the main domestic art is the pottery making. While this art has been influenced by the newcomers it still shows that the natives had brought it to a high stage of development before the arrival of the Europeans. The pottery vary in size from large vessels over two feet in diameter to extremely small and elegantly made artefacts. In making a pottery a piece of clay is pressed into shape to serve as the bottom and on this many very thin coils are built up and the whole finally carefully smoothed inside and out with a pebble or preferably an old stone ax head. After drying for a short time the vessel is painted. It may simply be slip painted with red paint and burnt over an open fire, or it may have been made of clay mixed with burned kwepi bark. In the latter case the vessel burns to a warm reddish yellow color. Designs are painted on and it is again burnt. Three colors are used; a red vegetable paint (ruku), white clay (pimbi doti) and a black paint (taporipa).

Beautiful smaller terracotta pitcher with flaring rim and simple loop handle. Slip painted with broad red bands and narrow black or brown irregular line decoration. Relatively good condition. Intact. Age-related wear, cracks and abrasion. Dirt, dust and soil. Lovely patina. Size approx. 11,7cm x 9,4cm x 9,4cm. Weight c. 279g.

Citations, references and sources:

Dutch Guiana Pottery, Merwin, B. W, The Museum Journal VIII, No. 3, September, 1917, pp 180-185. (www.penn.museum/sites/journal/609/)

National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), The Smithsonian Institution.

Kalina, Sorosoro, Translated into English by Benjamin Dennis, 2015. (sorosoro.org)