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Creator Nationality: North American; Caribbean; Taino
Creator Name-CRT: Taino peoples
Title: Deity Figure (Zemí)
View: Side View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1599
Creation Date: 15th-16th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Ironwood, shell
Dimensions: H. 26 31/32 in. (68.4 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.206.380
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
The Taino peoples of the Greater Antilles-the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica-produced the most distinctive works of art of all of the Caribbean islands during Precolumbian times. Highly individual forms such as the ritual objects known as 'zemis,' or idols, were made of stone or wood in different sizes and shapes. The zemis could be named and personally owned, and they were dressed and fed on special occasions. Zemis such as this one in the shape of a crouched, emaciated human figure with a platelike form on the top of the head are thought to have been used in ceremonies that included the taking of hallucinogenic snuff, or 'cohoba.' The snuff was placed on top of the zemi and inhaled through small tubes into the nostrils. The altered states of consciousness induced by the snuff were important to divination and curing rituals, among others.
AMICA ID: MMA_.1979.206.380
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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