The Taino in the Boca Chica region of eastern Hispaniola brought pottery making to a new height of ceramic art characterized by elaborate modeledincised designs, many of which appear to be representations of zemies. The term zemi (or cemi) encompassed dual concepts, for it denoted a spiritual double who gave advice and protected humans and was also the physical symbol of that spiritual being.
Fortaleza Map Tourist Attractions There were thousands of zemies, representing the broad pantheon of the Taino’s legendary gods and culture heroes, plus deceased ancestors and nature spirits. Just about every object used by the Taino, both utilitarian and ceremonial, was decorated with carvings, paintings, or weavings of the zemies and their symbols. Taino wore elaborate jewelry honoring their zemies and decorated their bodies with painted-on multicolored zemi symbols. Some sported permanent tattoos.
The Taino people, who watched as Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492, were the first Amerindians to have sustained contact with Europeans. Caciques (chiefs) wore elaborately embellished costumes and sat on carved ceremonial seats called dujos. (Musee de l’Homme, Paris, France/Bridgeman Art Library) Spanish chroniclers generally described the Taino as naked, but all of them wore jewelry and zemi symbols, leg bands and armbands. Married women wore a cotton loincloth called a nagua the more noble they were, the longer the nagua.