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Americas Antique Treasure Jade: Hallucinogenic "Seated" Pendant, 500 Years#4

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Pre-Columbian, Hispaniola, Arawak Peoples, Taino Native Indians, 1000 to 1500 CE. , #4 Taino Jade Anthropic Pendant of a Seated "Hands on Knees" Figure, 1000-1500 AD Carved in a rich dark jade. This is a fine and important hand carved jade ancestor sculpture fashioned as a pendant from the Arawak Peoples of the Greater Antilles Islands, Dominican Republic. It is a rare and choice example. Taino jades are extremely uncommon due to lack of local island jade cobble resources. Jade was likely traded into this country hundreds of years ago and this work of art is just one of a small collection found in a cave in LaAltagracia Provonce, Dominican Republic in 1958. Dimensions: 2.3 inches high, 6 cm "Certificate of Authenticity". Sometimes described as a jade -cemi- this work of art belongs to a broader category of Taino art also called -zemis-. This term refers to the physical incarnation of a Taino god, spirit or ancestor. This figure may represent a Taino in trance and might have adorned Cohoba ceremonies where hallucinogenic substances like cohoba were consumed to induce trances to communicate with the gods. It features decorative tattoo on the head top while the figure maintains a meditative pose. While the precise function of such objects remain somewhat a mystery- they continue to impress us with their bold abstract form and magical associations. This remarkable sculpture figure is carved in a dark, rich green jade with brown inclusions. This quintessential and rare example is classily seated with typical conical head, slanted eyes, hands on knees, prominent nasal, wide open mouth, and pointed base. It is the first and only example of this form we have seen, and a unique jade carving. As chieftains and important shamans were deified after death this sculpture may represent a cacique chief or high status member of Taino Community. The arrangement of the figure’s limbs is an elaboration of the ritual squatting position that zemis assume in surviving stone amulets. In this case the legs are held up vertically with the feet resting under the waist. Both the face and in particular, the back of the body, are skeletal in appearance with prominent hollow joints. The wide eye-sockets and gaping jaw are deeply carved and both the forehead and the chin project outwards at a sharp angle. The emaciated look on the reverse, is carved in the half round. Both the ribs and the spine are indicated, set between elaborate geometric motifs which may indicate the presence of tattoos. The figure appears to rests on a simply carved pedestal. To western sensibilities there is an obvious contradiction between the figure’s reverse skeletal form, suggestive of mortality. A carving from this rare stone and quality and size must have belonged to a chieftain or ranking member of the royal household. Although Taino left no written documents, Spanish settlers did record native practices and one account refers to special structures in which chieftains stored their Trove of zemi carvings. The Taino believed in existence of afterlife and Shamanic ability to communicate with the dead. This sculpture may well have been present and on display in such a ceremony or perhaps a focus of ancestor worship. This remarkably evocative work allows us to peak into ancient splendors of their remarkable civilization. hand carved. Venerated. An important and scarce work of art from America's Caribbean islands. Provenance: 1958 Cave cave find, LaAltagracia Provonce, Dominican Republic. Certificate of Authenticity accompanies Taino History: The Taino flourished from 1200-1500. When Columbus arrived in America, the first people he encountered were the Taino People- inhabitants of the islands of the northern Caribbean Sea, known as Hispaniola. They were Arawakan-speaking people who at the time of Christopher Columbus’s exploration inhabited Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Once the most numerous indigenous people of the Caribbean, the Taino may have numbered several million at the time of the Spanish conquest in the late 15th century. Their highly developed belief system focused on zemi ancestor or god worship. A zemi was the physical manifestation of a god, spirit or ancestor. The chieftain -caciques- encouraged ancestor worship and were often deified after death. The religious leaders or shamans were thought to be able to communicate with the souls of the dead when intoxicated by the hallucinogenic cohoba. A preoccupation with death is evident in many Taino art-forms and partly explains the prevalence of zoomorphic images. Bats, owls and frogs were all popular motifs and were regarded as harbingers of life after death. The Taino believed that the dead could be reborn in animal form and some believe animals were their earliest ancestors in Taino creation myth. hence we find their zoomorphic sculptures as combinations of human and animal forms particularly provocative and great conversational art. The creator god was known as Yúcahu Maórocoti, encouraging growth of staple foods, like cassava. The goddess was Attabeira, who regulated and dominated over water, rivers, and seas. Their contribution to the Spanish includes Indian corn, tobacco, rubber balls to unique art and artifacts, plus a new vocabulary. Importantly, the Taino lasting effects on Western civilization, though through brief contact, was an important and lasting one and continues to this day. Lifetime guarantee of authenticity: All of our works of art come with our Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee.  

Details

  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions
    H 2.3 in. x W 1.75 in. x D 1 in.H 5.85 cm x W 4.45 cm x D 2.54 cm
  • Seller Location
    Shelburne, VT
  • Reference Number
    LU1289213901862
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Located in Shelburne, VT
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