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Taíno zemí of Deminán Caracaracol

Taíno zemí of Deminán Caracaracol
AD 1200–1500
Andrés, Dominican Republic
22 x 22 x 41 cm
Collected by Theodoor de Booy

Son of Itiba Cahubaba, Deminán is first among her quadruplets, leading his brothers in misadventures of creation throughout the Caribbean universe. To create the Caribbean Sea, its fish and its islands, its people and their procreation, the Sacred Four disturb the secrets of the YaYá, Original Spirit. Deminán and his nameless brothers capture fire, casabe (cassava bread), and tobacco for the use of the people. When, in the course of the creational journey, men and women are separated, the wandering men beseech the four brothers. Assisted by their mother’s ally, Inriri Cahubabayael (woodpecker), they carve new women out of swimming creatures. Later, while requesting casabe (still traditional Taíno food), Deminán offends a grandfather spirit, who blows a wad of herbs and creative powders on Deminán’s back. Deminán gestates a turtle, which his brothers deliver by cutting into his flesh. Before plants and food for humans, there must be earth. Thus Caguama, Creator Turtle, is brought forth by the quadruple powers, who care for her, the living Earth, and upon her build their house, the Taíno bohio.

The important figure of Deminán is found in many forms in the Taíno Caribbean. In this thin-walled ceramic, collected in Quisqueya (the Dominican Republic), Deminán’s wide face and contemplative forehead convey an expression of deep thought, as befitting the creation of the earth and humanity. The turtle is clearly visible on his arched and ailing back. The figure depicts Deminán in the lineage of suffering creators, his very thin arms the result of an extended fast. His oblong eyes and cosmic navigator’s cap follow in the style of his mother.

—José Barreiro (Taíno)

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