Weekly Photo Challenge: Relics of the Dead

“Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living.” ~ Emily Bronte


Everyday, I walk our beaches and everyday, I find relics washed ashore. Most of the time, the finds are over hundreds of years old…aged Pre-Columbian pottery shards that tell the stories of the ancient ones who lived on Ometepe Island long ago.

Burial urns called zapatoes from Ometepe Island

Burial urns called zapatoes from Ometepe Island

Flat Stanley went with me one day and discovered several interesting pieces waiting for him on our black sand beach.

12Passed forward through the generations, these relics are still used by modern families on the island. Need powdered sugar? Let me grind it for you.

DSCN0677They come in handy for making a wind break around a cooking fire on the beach.
IMG_2977I’ve found whole heirlooms laying on the beach, too. My collection is growing beyond belief. Each a testimonial…each unique…whispering sentiments of their value among the living.
IMG_1595IMG_0608Sometimes, I have no clue what they are and sometimes, just adding a light gives the relic a new dimension.
IMG_3281IMG_0674What do I do with thousands of ancient pottery shards? These fragments spoke to me and said, “Make me into a turtle.” Our casita is called Casita de Tortuga.

Sometimes my finds become whimsical creations…a Christmas centerpiece or a plastic baby doll arm holding an early clay marble.
IMG_0606IMG_2992And sometimes while I’m deep in the zen moment of drawing the time-worn pottery shards…I hear them whispering...I am precious...I was valued.


23 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Relics of the Dead

    • Nicole, they were made and traded on Ometepe Island by the indigenous people. Hundreds of years ago, there was a point of land, very near our house, where small sailing vessels would land. They would trade their pottery pieces. When the Spanish conquistadors invaded, many of the ancient people buried their valuables. I think the reason we find so many broken pieces along the shores is because of erosion, waves, and tides. Also, the lake could have been much lower thousands of years ago and what is now water could have been land. Good questions.

  1. Such an invaluable collection! And what a delectable photos you have taken. I loved the quote of Emily Bronte and the descriptions you have mentioned of relics. Very fascinating indeed. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Do visit my ‘relics’ as well. Thanks 🙂

    • Bob, they are protected and there are two museums on the island. Yet, with heavy rains, the pieces are exposed. Then, the strong winds create high waves and the pieces along the shore are crushed into small shards. I can’t stand to see these beautiful shards just laying around all over the beach, so I gather them. The whole pieces, I display at my house. Eventually, I’ll donate them to the museum, but they are so amazing to me that they survived this long. Most of the locals don’t understand the need to protect their heritage. They will try to sell pieces they find. I encourage them to donate them to the museum and I tell them I would never buy or sell the pottery because it is illegal. If they are caught, there is a hefty fine. They can’t be removed from the country, either. Big problems for anyone trying to smuggle Pre-Columbian pottery out of Nicaragua.

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