DescriptionA Taino Spirit Figure, zemi or cemi
Dominican Republic, c. 1100-1550 AD
A classic Taino tricorn or three-pointed carving in dark grey-brown mottled and veined stone. The forward tipping top is characteristic of zemi stone figures, as is the concave bottom. The aggressive spirit face looks out from one side. Dynamic linear and spiral patterns on the back of the "head". In very good condition, minor scrapes and scratches.
These stones were associated with fields and gardens, evidently to spiritually aid the fertility and growth of crops, especially manioc, cassava, and yucca. A very similar stone is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, #1997.35.2.
Note: In 2014 this was thoroughly examined and scientifically dated to 1100-1558 by Stoetzer, Inc, Miami, FL. Examination report number RH 080814.1.
Collected by Wilfred Belmar, Dominican Republic, c. 1930s
Belmar was born in the Dominican Republic. The collection (lots 70267 - 70272) was amassed in the 1930s - 1940s. In the 1950s, Belmar moved with these items to Tobago, where he died in 1980. Through the family by descent.
In 2015 this was vetted as authentic by Taino scholar Dr. William Keegan, Chairman and Curator of Anthropology, Department of Natural History, Florida Museum of Natural History and professor of Anthropology and Curator of Latin American Studies, University of Florida, Miami. In addition, upon Dr. Keegan's recommendation, this was vetted as authentic by Dr. John F. Scott, professor emeritus of Art History, University of Florida. Dr. Scott has studied Pre-Columbian art for more than 58 years, the Taino in particular. He is the author of important books: Before Cortes (co-author with Elizabeth Easby); The Art of the Taino of the Dominican Republic; and Latin American Art: Ancient and Modern, as well as many other scholarly publications (see references below). He was an exchange professor in Santo Domingo at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquex Urena and did extensive research in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the late 1980s.
The Museum of Native American History, Bentonville, AR, 2016-2019
Length: 12 inches
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