The Beauty of Shells

Foto: Humberto Capai

The Mystery of Flowers

In the Ethnology sector of the National Museum of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ, there is a beautiful collection of flowers made from shells, without any reference of the artisan who created them.

“34.381 – Flowers made from shells. Trees. From Guarapari, ES. Offices of the “Serviço do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional”, February, 1945” (1).

The collection is made up of 45 pieces and there is no indication of who was the artisan. The shells are of the same type found in Piúma, but nobody there makes those type of flowers.

In 1988, pictures of these flowers were shown to the artisans Carmen Muniz and Lili Santana, but they could not identify them. However, they informed that perhaps Olga Zaché da Silva should know. Looking at the picture, Da. Olga says that the flowers were made by Donana, the old artisan who taught her the craft. Unhappily this woman was not found.

“Thus persists the mystery. Who, in 1945, in this important national museum (Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional), acquired the collection and took care of it?” asks Ana Hey (1), from the team responsible for the “Sala do Artista Popular" (Room of the Popular Artisan) in the museum.

(1) Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro,

(2) Ana Hey, Fundação Nacional de Arte, Funarte. (1988).