We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Origins of the Tainan Culture, West Indies

Written by Sven Loven and new preface by L. Antonio Curet

Publication Year: 2010

When originally published in German in 1924, this volume was hailed as the first modern, comprehensive archaeological overview of an emerging area of the world. Yes, the Caribbean islands had long been known and owned, occupied, or traded among by the economically advanced nations of the world. However, the original inhabitants—as well as their artifacts, languages, and culture—had been treated by explorers and entrepreneurs alike as either slaves or hindrances to progress, and were used or eliminated. There was no publication that treated seriously the region and the peoples until this work. In the following ten years, additional pertinent publications emerged, along with a request to translate the original into Spanish. Based on those recent publications, Loven decided to update and reissue the work in English, which he thought to be the future international language of scholarship. This work is a classic, with enduring interpretations, broad geographic range, and an eager audience.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (356.4 KB)
pp. v-vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (166.3 KB)
pp. xi-xii

In all regions around the world, there are always a few publications that become classics and survive the passage of time. Many of these books are not only jewels of past scholarship, but they are still used today either because they contain or synthesize old information, or because their ideas and interpretations of the past are still as valid as ...

List of abbreviations, Terminology

pdf iconDownload PDF (168.5 KB)
pp. ix

read more

I. Immigrations and Indian Elements in the West Indies

pdf iconDownload PDF (4.4 MB)
pp. 1-85

The distance from the Antilles with their southernmost island, Grenada, to Trinidad (and Tobago) and even to the mainland of South America, is not larger than migrations from this continent to the islands could have been established by tribes possessing sufficient good crafts. Farther on there was no difficulty in crossing from one island to another along the range of the Lesser Antilles. Firstly between the northern Leeward Islands and the Virgin Islands there is a gap, which ought to make traffic more difficult. Of primitive...

read more

II. Ancient Indian Monuments in the West Indies

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.5 MB)
pp. 86-134

Here I am going to follow FEWKES' terminology and division of Archaeological Sites into Plazas, Shell-heaps and Caves, since this embraces the three largest categories of ancient monuments in the Antilles. The investigations of COSCULLUELA in the Ci�naga de Zapata have established archaeologically a fourth kind of antique relics in Cuba, namely pile dwellings. However, this subject will not be treated before ...

read more

III. Stone Artifacts, Celts, Adzes, and Axes. Flint Artifacts

pdf iconDownload PDF (4.5 MB)
pp. 135-223

As far as the West Indies are concerned, MASON has rejected the division into palaeolithic and neolithic ages. But when MASON published his monographs on the Latimer collection from Puerto Rico and the Guesde collection from Guadelope not a single object was known from the Antilles that cannot be ascribed to the culture of the Island-Arawaks. Later ...

read more

IV. Ceramics

pdf iconDownload PDF (5.8 MB)
pp. 224-335

It is through the pottery, above all, that we have come to discern an archaic era in Mexico, Central America, and also in South America. In the West Indies, the archaic pottery arrived from the northeast of South America with the Arawaks. Since then ...

read more

V. Towns and houses

pdf iconDownload PDF (703.1 KB)
pp. 336-349

We have already quoted the statements made by COLUMBUS as to the size of the towns of the Lucayan Islands and in northeastern Cuba. He estimated that a large town near Puerto de Paz (Port de Paix) on the north coast of the Rep. Haiti, had 1000 houses and 3000 inhabitants.1 ) If the number of houses is correct, the population of the town ...

read more

VI. Agriculture. Culture-Plants

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.2 MB)
pp. 350-413

The islands the Tainos lived on, were for the most part a veritable Arawak paradise. The soil was suitable for yuca and other plants that they cultivated. There was an abundance of edible fish in the rivers and above all along the coast. Meat played a less important role ...

read more

VII. Navigation, boats, oars, fishing, hunting, and weapons

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.1 MB)
pp. 414-454

In Chapter I, I have already spoken of the inclination of the Tainos for maritime enterprises, and their overseas connections. For a race that, as a matter of fact, had no sails, the length of their voyages is indeed astounding. Not only do sails save manual labour at the oars, but they also have an evolutional effect in that the crew could be diminished on long voyages, with the result that there...

read more

VIII. Household Furniture

pdf iconDownload PDF (399.4 KB)
pp. 455-462

The house-furnishings of the Tainos as we know them can be divided into three categories: 1) Such things as have the character of furniture. 2) Articles used in the preparation and consumption of food. 3) Receptacles for purposes of conservation. The Duho. To begin with the first category, the wooden chair, called duho, intended for the caciques and distinguished and honoured guests1) had reached a perfection among the Tainos, that scarcely is equalled in any place in...

read more

IX. Gold. Ornaments. Dress. Treatment of the body. Musical instruments

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 463-497

The gold found among the Tainos was in reality of two different kinds in regards to consistency and method of treatment: 1) Caona, native gold, unalloyed, and only hammered. 2) Guanin, gold from Colombia, alloyed, smelted. The native gold, especially in a quantitative sense, played a far greater role among the Tainos than the South American. It was unnecessary for the Tainos to seek gold over the sea....

read more

X. Social Conditions

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.2 MB)
pp. 498-540

The information from the historical sources about social conditions among the Tainos is limited and very fragmentary. Their veritable social structure remained concealed from the Spaniards. It is constantly characterized as aristocratic and...

read more

XI. Burial Customs

pdf iconDownload PDF (927.7 KB)
pp. 541-559

Different forms of both direct and secondary burials were found contemporaneously on Espa�ola at the time of the Discovery, according to what the old authors report. Archaeological finds also often give us a good idea of how in part the burial customs mentioned in the sources were effected; then too, other facts that are not given...

read more

XII. Religion

pdf iconDownload PDF (5.0 MB)
pp. 560-656

It is only through the Catalan Hieronymite friar RAMON PANE that we possess a connected acconnt of Taino religion, from notes that he made on what was related to him by Guarionex, the king of Magu

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (2.2 MB)
pp. 657-696

The Tainos were a people that long ago became extinct. Such relics in the form of objects still used, or ancient superstitions occurring in folklore, as may still be found among their mestizized descendants in the El Yunque massif in Puerto Rico, of Oriente in Cuba, or, possibly, among the negro-interbred population of Santo Domingo, are only able to present to us an extremely imIlerfect and fragmentary picture of their ancient...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.2 KB)
pp. 697

If, for comparison, we turn to Mexico we there find similar physiological effects of tobacco as in Espa�ola after cahoba-snuffing. Thus the Tarascan priests by the use of tobacco attained an ecstatic state during which they saw occult things and established comnnmication with the gods ...

Plates I-XIX

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 698-716

Map showing the Indian West Indies

pdf iconDownload PDF (188.3 KB)
pp. 717

E-ISBN-13: 9780817385095
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356378

Page Count: 728
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • West Indies -- Social life and customs.
  • Ethnology -- West Indies.
  • West Indies -- History.
  • Taino Indians -- History.
  • Taino Indians -- Social life and customs.
  • West Indies -- Ethnic relations.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access