Stone figure, um 1200 – 1500 n. Chr.

About the object

The stylised squatting figure has been carved out of blackish brown stone and has been polished until smooth. It is typical representation of a zemi in which aspects of a human and animal being (toad or frog) coalesce. Dominant is the oversized head with a broad, teeth-baring, grinning mouth, huge oval eyes, triangular nose and pendulous, plugged ears. In the polytheistic worldview of the Taino, zemis are gods or ancestral spirits related to natural phenomena. Their images were worshiped in special shrines, among other places, used in ceremonies with the hallucinogen cohoba and smaller versions worn as amulets for protection in combat or against storms and bad weather. Each Taino had several zemis that stood for his ancestors, among other purposes.

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