The magic world of religion and social organization

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Foto de la Sala 4 - El Mundo mágico religioso y la organización social

Two items made of clay exhibited in this room bring us closer to the way of life of the ancient Canarians: the pintaderas or seals, and idols.

The pintaderas are pieces mostly made of clay, with a more or less flat base and a handle or appendage which in some cases was perforated with an orifice.  The base may be square, rectangular, circular, triangular, rhomboidal, etc, and was decorated partially or completely with geometrical motifs applied either by impression, incision or excision.

There are two interpretations as to their function: some authors suggest they were probably used for body decoration, impregnating them with raddle and then stamping them on the body; other authors, based on ethnoarcheological comparisons with northern African populations -where they are used to mark different storage rooms in granaries- believe they were used as personal seals.
Idols are figures made of baked clay representing human, animal and other more obscure forms, whose characteristics link them to the aboriginals' belief system.

Many of the ritual practices described in documentary sources, as well as certain archeological evidence, suggest they were intended to encourage fertility. Some examples of these ritual practices include the magico-religious ceremonies described in the chronicles of the conquest, the rupestral engravings of inverted triangles that have been interpreted as pubic triangles -documented at several locations on the island such as Cueva de los Candiles (Artenara), represented in this room– and a good number of the idols.

Indeed, some of the human figures on display exhibit some explicitly depicted sexual attributes, which suggests they were linked to a certain form of worship connected with fertility and procreation.

The room also displays a replica of the Painted Cave in Gáldar. This decorated chamber is part of a wider complex of artificial caves -whose layout is illustrated on a panel which is also on display-, which in turn forms part of a settlement of the same name made up of about fifty stone dwelling houses. The three walls of this cave are decorated with geometrical designs painted in red and white, designs to which the dark colour of the wall itself has been incorporated.

 

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