Kiju Sakai: the Japanese anthropologist who dedicated his life to study Brazil in the first half of the 20th century

Marcia Lika Hattori André Strauss About the authors


Kiju Sakai was a Japanese anthropologist and archaeologist who came to Brazil in 1934. Throughout his life, he excavated many sites and formed an important archaeological collection. Until recently, however, the collection was not officially recognized and few academics knew of its existence. The very biography of Sakai is still largely unknown. The objectives of this study are to present the academic community with the collection, to introduce Sakai´s biography, to bring information about the curation of the material and its contribution to the history of the Brazilian Archaeology at the beginning of the 19th century as well as the role of the non-professional archaeologists and institutions such as th Sociedade Archaeológica Brasileira de Amadores and the Instituto Kurihara in the research developed in Sao Paulo State. The “Archaeological Collection Kiju Sakai” is now in the newly built Museum of History and Archaeology of Lins, State of São Paulo. The collection includes the most distinct types of archaeological material among which: ceramics of Tupi and Jê groups; human skeletons from riverine shell middens and Kaingang burial mounds, flaked and polished stone artifacts, projectile points made of iron and medals of the Serviço Nacional de Proteção ao Índio (the National Bureau for the Protection of Native Brazilians). In addition to the archaeological items, the collection also includes the primary documentation Sakai produced, including maps of linguistic dispersion in South America written in Japanese, field diaries and watercolors representing the motifs present in Tupi ceramics.

History of Archaeology; Japanese imigration; Kurihara Institution; São Paulo; Burial sites

MCTI/Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi Coordenação de Pesquisa e Pós-Graduação, Av. Perimetral. 1901 - Terra Firme, 66077-830 - Belém - PA, Tel.: (55 91) 3075-6186 - Belém - PA - Brazil