Caciques and Cemí Idols: The Web Spun by Taino Rulers by Jose R Oliver

By Jose R Oliver

Cemís are either moveable artifacts and embodiments of people or spirit, which the Taínos and different natives of the higher Antilles (ca. advert 1000-1550) considered as numinous beings with supernatural or magic powers. This quantity takes an in depth examine the connection among people and different (non-human) beings which are imbued with cemí energy, particularly in the Taíno inter-island cultural sphere encompassing Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. The relationships deal with the real questions of identification and personhood of the cemí icons and their human “owners” and the results of cemí gift-giving and gift-taking that sustains a posh internet of relationships among caciques (chiefs) of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.
Oliver presents a cautious research of the 4 significant varieties of cemís—three-pointed stones, huge stone heads, stone collars, and elbow stones—as good as face mask, which supply an attractive distinction to the stone heads. He reveals facts for his interpretation of human and cemí interactions from a serious evaluation of 16th-century Spanish ethnohistoric files, in particular the Relación Acerca de las Antigüedades de los Indios written through Friar Ramón Pané in 1497–1498 lower than orders from Christopher Columbus. Buttressed via examples of local resistance and syncretism, the quantity discusses the iconoclastic conflicts and the connection among the icons and the people. concentrating on this and at the a variety of contexts within which the relationships have been enacted, Oliver unearths how the cemís have been crucial to the workout of local political strength. Such cemís have been thought of an immediate hazard to the hegemony of the Spanish conquerors, as those effective gadgets have been noticeable as allies within the local resistance to the onslaught of Christendom with its icons of saints and virgins.

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These include what seems to be a ranked order of settlements: some sites redefined their public space from an unmarked circular or semicircular central plaza to a quadrangular or rectangular space marked by monoliths. In some instances another rectangular court area near the settlement was constructed. Presumably the latter were dedicated to the Antillean rubber-ball game (see Oliver 1998; Siegel 1996, 1999; Torres 2005). The plazas (bateyes) were demarcated with limestone slabs or metavolcanic monoliths that were often decorated with petroglyphs that are nothing more and nothing less than monumental cemí icons (Oliver 2005; see Figures 9, 12: b, g).

1200 (Curet et al. 2006:34). During this time a large quadrangular plaza demarcated with stones was built, surrounded by a starshaped precinct, a large rectangular court, and six other smaller rectangular precincts, all framed by monoliths. Only the main plaza contains petroglyphs. D. 1200, for reasons as yet unknown, the site was essentially abandoned, although it apparently was visited by later groups, since Chican Ostionoid ceramics have been found there in small numbers. 20 Chapter 2 One key change at Tibes was the abandonment of the burial ground at the center of the unmarked plaza when it was redefined as a quadrangular plaza framed by monoliths.

1300–1500) is one of dispersed farmsteads or homesteads, each with its own “front-yard” batey or multifunctional plaza marked with monoliths and petroglyphs (Oliver et al. 1999). These small homesteads were linked together through vacant courts located in possibly neutral areas between homesteads. Presumably these vacant courts are where the Antillean ball games were held. The Antillean ball game, let us not forget, was not just a competitive sporting event but was also, on solemn occasions, a highly charged religious-ritual performance, as we shall see in part V of this book.

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