Skip to main content Accesibility Help
×
×
Home

Integrating the Old World into the New: an ‘Idol from the West Indies’

  • Joanna Ostapkowicz (a1), Fiona Brock (a2), Alex C. Wiedenhoeft (a3), Rick Schulting (a4) and Donatella Saviola (a5)...
Abstract

The Pigorini cemí is an icon of Caribbean colonial history, reflecting early trans-Atlantic cross-cultural exchanges. Although well documented, the piece has received surprisingly little systematic study. We present the first structural analysis and radiocarbon dating of the sculpture (modelled at AD 1492–1524), and a brief discussion of the materials from which it is comprised. These include indigenous shell and European glass beads, newly identified feather and hair fibres, and the enigmatic rhinoceros-horn mask carved as a human face. We also address the sculpture's hidden internal wooden base, which is shown to be a non-indigenous display mount made of European willow (Salix sp.).

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Integrating the Old World into the New: an ‘Idol from the West Indies’
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Integrating the Old World into the New: an ‘Idol from the West Indies’
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Integrating the Old World into the New: an ‘Idol from the West Indies’
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence (Email: joanna.ostapkowicz@arch.ox.ac.uk)
References
Hide All
Anonymous. 2008. Horns of plenty. The Economist, 17 May 2008. Available at: http://www.economist.com/node/11394575 (accessed 12 June 2017).
Biscione, M. 1991. Lo Zemi del Museo Pigorini: problemi di interpretazione. L'Universo supplemento 1: 7784.
Biscione, M. 1997. Epilogue: the beaded zemi in the Pigorini Museum: history and problems of interpretation, in Brecht, F., Brodsky, E., Farmer, J.A. & Taylor, D. (ed.) Taíno: pre-Columbian art and culture from the Caribbean: 158–63. New York: Monacelli.
Brill, R.H. 2012. San Salvador and related glasses (Puerto Rico), in Brill, R.H. & Stapleton, C.P. (ed.) Chemical analyses of early glasses (volume 3): 544–48. New York: The Corning Museum of Glass.
Brill, R.H., Barnes, I.L., Tong, S.S.C., Joel, E.C. & Murtaugh, M.J.. 1987. Laboratory studies of some European artifacts excavated on San Salvador Island, in Gerace, D.T. (ed.) Columbus and his world: proceedings of the first San Salvador conference: 247–92. Fort Lauderdale (FL): The Station.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2013. OxCal 4.2. Available at: https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/ (accessed 12 June 2017).
Curet, A. 2014. The Taíno: phenomena, concepts and terms. Ethnohistory 61: 467–95. https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2681759
Dackerman, S. 2011. Dürer's indexical fantasy: the rhinoceros and printmaking, in Dackerman, S. (ed.) Prints and the pursuit of knowledge in early modern Europe: 164–82. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press.
Deagan, K. 1987. Artefacts of the Spanish colonies of Florida and the Caribbean, 1500–1800: volume I: ceramics, glassware and beads. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Deagan, K. 2004. Reconsidering Taíno social dynamics after conquest: gender and class in culture contact studies. American Antiquity 69: 597626. https://doi.org/10.2307/4128440
Deagan, K. & Cruxent, J.M.. 2002. Columbus's outpost among the Taínos: Spain and America at La Isabela, 1493–1498. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press. https://doi.org/10.12987/yale/9780300090406. 001.0001
Diemer, P. von, Elke, B. & Dorothea, D.. 2004. Johann Baptist Fickler: Das Inventar de Munchner herzoglichen Kunstkammer von 1598. München: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Feest, C.F. 1986. Zemes Idolum Diabolicum. Surprise and success in ethnographic Kunstkammer research. Archiv für Völkerkunde 40: 181–98.
Feest, C.F. 1991. Beaded belt, in Levenson, J.A. (ed.) Circa 1492: art in the age of exploration: 580–81. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art.
Greene, P.F. 2016. Weeping willow growth rates compare with Salix babylonica re-rooted branch cuttings. Research & Reviews: Journal of Botanical Sciences 5: 2023.
Guitar, L.A. 1998. Cultural genesis: relationships among Indians, Africans and Spaniards in rural Hispaniola, first half of the sixteenth century. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Vanderbilt University.
Hoffman, C.A. 1987. Archaeological investigations at the Long Bay site, San Salvador, Bahamas, in Gerace, D.T. (ed.) Columbus and his world: proceedings of the first San Salvador conference: 237–45. Fort Lauderdale (FL): The Station.
Hofman, C.L., Mol, A., Hoogland, M.L.P. & Valcarcel Rojas, R.. 2014. Stage of encounters: migration, mobility and interaction in the pre-colonial and early colonial Caribbean. World Archaeology 46: 590609. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2014.925820
Keehnen, F.W.M. 2012. Trinkets (f)or treasure: the role of European material culture in intercultural contacts in Hispaniola during early colonial times. Unpublished MA dissertation, University of Leiden. Available at: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/19487/KeehnenF_RMA%20Thesis.pdf?sequence=3 (accessed 13 June 2017).
Keen, B. (ed.). 1992. The life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand. New York: Rutgers.
Kemp, M. 1995. ‘Wrought by no artist's hand’: the natural, the artificial, the exotic, and the scientific in some artifacts from the Renaissance, in Farago, C. (ed.) Reframing the Renaissance: visual culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450–1650: 176–96. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press.
Kerchache, J. 1994. L'art des sculpteurs Taïnos: Chefs-d’œvre des Grandes Antilles précolombiennes. Paris: Musée du Petit Palais.
Landers, J. 1990. African presence in early Spanish colonization of the Caribbean and the southeastern borderlands, in Hurst Thomas, D. (ed.) Columbian consequences: archaeological and historical perspectives on the Spanish borderlands east (volume 2): 315–27. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Casas, Las, De, B.. 1951 [1561]. Historia de las Indias (Biblioteca Americana Mexica, Serie de cronistas de Indias 15–17). Pánuco: Fundo de Cultura Económica.
Laurencich-Minelli, L. 1982. Dispersione e recupero della collezione Cospi. Deputazione di Storia Patria della Provencia di Romagna 32: 185202.
Legati, L. 1680. Inventario semplice di tutte le materie esattamente descritte che si trovano nel museo Cospiano: non solo le notate nel libro gia stampato e composto dal sig. Lorenzo Legati, ma ancora le aggiunteui in copia dopo la fabrica, Giacomo Monti, Bologna. Bologna: Giacomo Monti.
Mabberley, D.J. (ed.). 2014. Mabberley's plant-book. A portable dictionary of plants, their classifications and uses. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Méndez Bonilla, I.F. 2006. Culturas indígenas de Puerto Rico. San Juan: Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico.
Mol, A.A.A. 2007. Costly giving, giving Guaízas: towards an organic model of the exchange of social valuables in the Late Ceramic Age Caribbean. Leiden: Sidestone.
Montas, O., Borell, P.J. & Moya Pons, F.. 2003. Art Taíno. Santo Domingo: Banco Central de la Republica Dominicana.
Newsom, L.A. & Wing, E.. 2004. On land and sea: Native American uses of biological resources in the West Indies. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Oliver, J.R. 2009. Caciques and cemí idols : the web spun by Taíno rulers between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Ostapkowicz, J. 2013. ‘Made . . . with admirable artistry’: the context, manufacture and history of a Taíno belt. The Antiquaries Journal 93: 287317. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003581513000188
Ostapkowicz, J. In press. New wealth from an old world: glass, jet and mirrors in the late 15th- to early 16th-century indigenous Caribbean, in Brandherm, D., Heymans, E., Hofmann, D. & Wells, N. (ed.) Gifts, goods and money: comparing currency and circulation systems in past societies. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Ostapkowicz, J. & Newsom, L.A.. 2012. ‘Gods adorned with the embroiderer’s needle’: the materials, making and meaning of a Taíno cotton reliquary. Latin American Antiquity 23: 300–26. https://doi.org/10.7183/1045-6635.23.3.300
Ostapkowicz, J., Bronk Ramsey, C., Brock, F., Higham, T., Wiedenhoeft, A.C., Ribechini, E., Luceijko, J.J. & Wilson, S.. 2012. Chronologies in wood and resin: AMS 14C dating of pre-Hispanic Caribbean wood sculpture. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 2238–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.035
Pérez de Tudela, A. & Gschwend, A.J.. 2001. Luxury goods for royal collectors: exotica, princely gifts and rare animals exchanged between the Iberian courts and Central Europe in the Renaissance (1560–1612), in von Trneck, H. & Haag, S. (ed.) Exotica: Portugals Entdeckungen im Spiegel fürstlicher Kunst und Wunderkammern de Renaissance: 1127. Mainz: Zabern.
Pignoria, L. 1626. Seconda parte delle Imagini de gli dei Indiani, in Cartari, Vicenzo, Seconda Novissima Editione delle Imagini de gli dei delli Antichi. Padova: Pietro Paol Tozzi.
Roe, P. 1997. Epilogue: the beaded zemi in the Pigorini Museum, in Brecht, F., Brodsky, E., Farmer, J.A. & Taylor, D. (ed.) Taíno: pre-Columbian art and culture from the Caribbean: 164–69. New York: Monacelli.
Rouse, I. 1992. The Taínos: rise and decline of the people who greeted Columbus. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press.
Scalini, M. 2001. Exotica in der mediceischen Kunstkammer: Bemerkungen zur Herkunftsfrage und zu ihrer einstigen Präsentation, in von Trnek, H. & Hagg, S., Exotica: Portugals Entdeckungen im Spiegel fürstlicher Kunst und Wunderkammern de Renaissance: 128–43. Mainz: Zabern.
Schweeger-Hefel, A. 1952. Ein rätselfaftes Stück aus deralten Ambraser Sammlung. Archiv für Völkerkunde (6–7): 209–28.
Smith, M.T. & Good, M.E.. 1982. Early sixteenth-century glass beads in the Spanish colonial trade. Greenwood (OK): Cottonlandia Museum.
Sullivan, E. 2006. The Black Hand: notes on the African presence in the visual arts of Brazil and the Caribbean, in Rischel, J.J. & Stratton-Pruitt, S. (ed.) The arts in Latin America, 1492–1820: 3955. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press.
Valcárcel Rojas, R. 2012. Interaccíon colonial en un pueblo de indios encomendados: El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Leiden University. Available at: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/20153 (accessed 13 June 2017).
VanderVeen, J.M. 2006. Subsistence patterns as markers of cultural exchange: European and Taíno interactions in the Dominican Republic. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Indiana University.
Vega, B. 1987. Un cinturon tejido y una careta de madera de Santo Domingo, del periodo de transculturacion Taíno-Espanol’, in Vega, B. (ed.) Santos, shamanes y zemies: 1729. Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana.
Veloz Maggiolo, M. 1972. Arqueologia prehistorica de Santo Domingo. Singapore: McGraw-Hill.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed