Pre-Columbian, Hispaniola, Greater Antilles Islands, Taino/Arawak Indians, ca. 1000 to 1500 CE. A stunning example of a three-pointed stone Zemi figure with a large ovoid body and a central conical point. The front of the vertical point depicts a characteristically-abstract, meticulously-pecked Zemi face with deep eye sockets, a bulbous nose, a wide mouth, arching ears, and a lightly drooping top point. The verso displays dense curvilinear motifs that surround two concentric circles on the top and bottom peripheries. A beautiful example from the ancient Taino! Size: 3.375" W x 7.6" H (8.6 cm x 19.3 cm).
Taino art is comprised of many cult objects associated with the worship of zemis. The term "zemi" refers to deities, ancestors, or earth spirits. The Zemi (or Cemi) stone, with its characteristic three cardinal points, is a fundamental symbol in the Taino religion. Tainos traditionally name the three points "Yocahu Bagua Maorocoti" -- another word for the Creator, Yaya. Zemis like this example are believed to be inhabited by powerful spirits. The uppermost point represents the top of this sacred mountain peak, in the "turey" (sky) of the four directions, where Yaya - the Creator, whose name means "that which has neither beginning nor end and which has no male ancestor or creator" - resides. The 'chin' point represents "Coabey," the underworld or place of the dead. Here "Hupia," the spirit of the dead, resides, and the face of Guayaba, the Chief of Coabey, is represented. Finally, the opposite point represents the land of the living where "Goiz," the spirit of living people, resides. A similar three-pointer example is shown in fig. 29a, p. 117 in "The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus", (Irving Rouse, 1992).
Provenance: private Los Angeles County, California, USA collection, acquired in the Dominican Republic over 20 years ago
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Minor abrasions and nicks to base, body, face, and verso, with light softening to some finer details, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and excellent. Nice earthen deposits throughout.