Male figure (deity?) made of wood.
- 15thC(late) (?)
- Found/Acquired: Vere, cave
- (Americas,Caribbean,Greater Antilles,Jamaica,Carpenters Mountains,Vere (Jamaica))
- Height: 103.5 centimetres
- Width: 55 centimetres
- Depth: 13.5 centimetres
Referred to in Archaeologia,1803 as being exhibited to the Society by Rebello on 11/4/1799, having been found in a cave in June,1792. Method of acquisition by BM currently unknown. (AMD,8/1993). See Fagg, Tribal Image, pl.3.McEwan 2009
This imposing Taino sculpture stands in a rigid frontal pose of hallucinogenic possession, signalled by the grimacing teeth and tears streaming down his cheeks. The ostentatious display of the sexual organs, emphasized by the hands resting on the hips, underlines its aggressive marculinity. The bulging calves are an admired manifestation of strength and durability produced by wearing ligatures bound beneath the knees and aroud the ankles.
Like most of the other surviving wooden objects, it is carved from the dense, black tropical hardwood, guayacan (Guaiacum officinale L.). The prepared surface was polished with rounded river pebbles to bring the wood resin to the surface and help achieve an alluring deep black lustre.
On the back, the exposed skeletal vertebrae of the spinal column reinforce its association with the spirit world of revered dead male ancestors imbued with a life force called "cemi" that could assume different forms, invisible as well as visible. In this animate universe the Taino actively sought contact with these potent and influential beings who were capable of performing formidable deeds. Many had names, titles, even genealogies, and with each interaction between object and person the "cemies" added to their biography.
2000-2001 6 Dec-11 Feb, London, BM Room 35; Human Image
2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2005 1 Oct-2007 7 Jan, London, Horniman Museum, Amazon to Caribbean: Early Peoples of the Rainforest
2008, Apr-Sept, Barcelona, Museo Barbier-Mueller D'Art Precolombi, 'Caribbean Before Columbus'
2008 Sept -2009 Jan, Santiago de Compostela, Fundacion Caixa Galiciade, 'Caribbean Before Columbus'
2009, Jan-Apr, Madrid, Museo de America, 'Caribbean Before Columbus'
2012 10 Apr-10 Jul, Quai Branly, Paris; Masters of Chaos
2012 19 Jul-25 Nov, London, BM Shakespeare: Staging the World
Acquisition details unknown.
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
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Object reference number: ESA25675
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