- Museum number
Bird figure (standing on snake ?, or tortoise ?) made of wood.
- Production date
- 1186-1273 (Calibrated radiocarbon dates)
Diameter: 31 centimetres
Height: 65.50 centimetres
Weight: 7.695 kilograms
Width: 26.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
From Registration Slip: "Purchased from Wareham, 1866." The Slip also has number "St.332" deleted - this seems to correspond to a Steinhauer Slip "St.332+"which initially describes a stone implement and is subsequently annotated "a mistake. Carib idol substituted for this slip." The accepted Register number for the wooden figure is MI.168. (AMD,2/1996).
Taino oral traditions from the Caribbean tell how humans came to be divided into men and women. This object shows a long-beaked wader - probably a grey heron - stranding on top of a turtle. The bird has human toes that identify him as a "bird-man" and potential husband for the "turtle-woman" wife. The turtle's neck and head are inclined vertically upwards to touch and perhaps be fed by the bird's beak. Originally the eyes and beak would probably have been emphasised by the kind of shell inlay still visible on other Taino sculptures.
The circular canopy or tray (most of which is now lost) at the top of the vertical support rising from the bird's back was used to hold a powdered snuff known as "cohoba", made by grinding up the hallucinogenic seeds of a shrub (Anadenanthera peregrina). After careful ritual preparations including fasting and abstinence from sex, priests would inhale the powder nadally to produce powerful hallucinogenic visions revealing knowledge of the spirit world.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
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'
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Am186?C4.168 (old CDMS no.)
Miscellaneous number: Am,St.332+ (possible incorrect Slip no.)