Taino Symbols And Meanings

Taino Symbols Strongly Influence Puerto Rico’s Culture

Long before Columbus Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico in 1493, Taino Indians lived on the isle. They made a living as farmers and fishermen. Today, the Taino culture is ingrained in Puerto Rico’s heritage. Archaeologists have found, through their digs and discoveries, more about the simbolos tainos (or taino symbols) that represent animals, agriculture, and tribal and religious customs.


Taino statue in Puerto Rico

Taino Symbols and Meanings

In recent times, Puerto Rican artists have embraced Taino symbols, many of which are displayed at local art supplies stores, or can be seen in Taino art, Puerto Rican tattoos, or Taino tribal tattoos. As a result, many people frequently become interested in the significance and meaning of Taino symbols. To understand Taino tattoo collections or Taino symbols, you need to learn more about the written language of the Taino people. This language was first represented by petroglyphs. Petroglyphs represent symbols carved in stone.

Evidence of Taino symbols displayed as petroglyphs can still be seen many places in Puerto Rico. Individual travelers can view petroglyphs, for example, at the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park in Arecibo. The municipality sits next to the Atlantic Ocean in northern Puerto Rico.


Viewing the Petroglyphs in Naguabo

You can also find Taino symbols in the petroglyphs over Naguabo, Puerto Rico on the Rio Blanco. Naguabo is located on the country’s east coast. The aforementioned area features 7 sites that display Taino symbols – most of which are etched in large boulders. If you visit the area, be careful! Because many of the boulders sit close to the river bank, they can be slippery. If you tour the area, it is best to follow a guide and tread slowly.

The Extinction of the Taino

The Taino people were declared extinct in 1565, decimated by sickness from the invasions of the Spanish conquistadors. However, one DNA study found that just over 60% of Puerto Ricans. and about one-third of Dominicans and Cubans, have mitochondrial DNA from Native Americans. Naturally, this can lead to a lot of speculation. However, the fact remains that Taino tattoos and Taino symbols still play a big role in creative Puerto Rican expressions.


Puerto Rico Taino Symbols and Meanings

Anyone who has smoked tobacco, followed a hurricane, or enjoyed a barbecue has used Taino symbols in an indirect sense, as all these words were invented by the Native Americans. Many archaeologists concur that the word “Taino” was probably the term used when the Indians first greeted the Spanish conquistadors. The word means “peace” in the English language.

The Native Americans established a complicated system of government and were used to an advanced culture before the Spaniards invaded Puerto Rico. Therefore, the symbols used by the Tainos often have special significance.

For example, the Taino symbols carved in stone show that the Native Americans respected all living things. The carvings also represent Taino beliefs and religious practices. They frequently highlight Taino gods and the Taino sun god. For instance, the petroglyph, El Sol de Jayuya, or the sun god, can be found in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. The sun was believed to be quite powerful – a god that provided great strength and longevity to both crops and people. Conversely, cemi tainos represented the rain god – a god that fertilized the crops.

In fact, you can find a large number of Taino words that have been integrated into the Puerto Rican language. These words include trees, such as the ceiba, tabonuco, or cupey, or names of wildlife, such as mucaro, iguana, carey, coqui (well-known as a coqui tattoo), cobo, and guabina. Some of the words passed on into the English language, such as huracan (hurricane), barbacoa (barbecue), and hamaca (hammock).

Taino statue in Puerto Rico

Taino Gods

Modern sociologists as well as Puerto Rican artists are both impressed by Taino symbols – most of which have developed from ritual dances, agricultural practices, and Taino mythology. For example, the Tainos had a hierarchy of Taino gods. While Yocahu was the supreme being, Jurakan, another Taino deity, was always angry, and therefore ruled over the power of the winds, primarily the hurricane.

Other Taino symbols or mythological figures include Maboyas and Zemi. Icons of the gods took the form of animal and human figures. Tainos believed that being in the good graces of their gods safeguarded them from hurricanes and illness. Therefore, they often made elaborate sacrifices to their gods to secure their protection.


Puerto Rican Warrior Symbols

The Taino coqui tattoo, which represents the Puerto Rican coqui, the frog, displays an encircled leaping frog – a symbol of longevity. Similar Puerto Rican warrior symbols include lizards, turtles, and snakes  – each which translated to survival and strength. Today, Puerto Ricans display Taino tattoos to express their pride in their Native American heritage.

Taino artwork richly unifies a wide variety of symbology from documented historical sites throughout the Caribbean.

Trigonolito

Trigonolito

Yocahu Vaguada Maorocoti: God of fertility. “Spirit of the Yucca and the sea. Mr yucador. ” He was buried in the conucos cassava; main food of the native Taino, to fertilize the soil.

Potiza

Potiza

Container used by the Aborigines of Quisqueyana to store water and fermenting the wine produced with the juice of Guáyiga. They were bought by women to men as a declaration of love

God of Labour

God of Labour

Recreation brothers Guillen, based on Taino art. The potiza carrying on his back, representing the hard work you were subjected aboriginal Americans as a result of conquest.

Itiva Tahuvava

Itiva Tahuvava

Goddess Mother Earth. Mother of twins representing the four cardinal points or “the four winds.”


Behique

Behique

“Witch Doctor”, Shaman. It represents the wisest character in the Taino tribe, knowing all the plants and medicinal substances responsible for curing diseases, director of the rite of cohoba. If left to a dying patient, the relatives of the dead killed clobbered.

Cemi Boinayel

Cemi Boinayel

God of Rain. Large tears emerging from their eyes as a sign of water that will govern the field to fertilize the cultivation of cassava.

Majador

Majador

Hand mortar used for rituals in the spraying of the ingredients of cohoba (seeds, shells, leaves).

Dimivan Caracaracol

Dimivan Caracaracol

“Mr Roñoso.” Unico child with the name of Mother Earth goddess. It represents a chieftain to which his brothers discovered a tumor, which operate and draw a turtle alive.


Moon Goddess

Moon Goddess

Sale of a cave of the country chieftain Mautiatibuel (son of dawn) or “Lord of the Dawn”, which returns to hide, while the sun rises from there.

Maquetaurie Guava

Maquetaurie Guava

Inhalers used by the Taino in the rite of cohoba for inhaling dust hallucinogen during the magical-religious ceremony.

Duho

Duho

Ceremonial seat used by warlords to preside over the ceremonies and rituals.

God of Snuff

Totem

“God of Snuff.” This figure was used as funerary urn for major characters and loved ones of the tribe.


Sun God

Sun God

Sale of a cave of the country’s chief Mautiatibuel (son of dawn) or “Lord of the Dawn”, which returns to hide, while the moon comes out of there.

Cemi

Cemi

It represents a god in the ceremonial position that took the chieftain or behique in the rite of cohoba.

God of force

God of force

Recreation brothers Guillen, based on Taino art. The trunk that rose, represents the willpower of the people for being free.

Mask

Mask

Representation of the face of characters and mystical animals or real world Taino.


Glass Effigy

Glass Effigy

Glass antropomorfo sedentary, for his position, is known as the representation of “God’s thinking.” It was used to consume liquid at the ceremony of marriage.

Seal or Rattle

Seal or Rattle

Part representing toad or turtle with geometric design subsection, used to make prints on clothing or skin.

Opiyel Guobiran

Opiyel Guobiran

God-dog, remained tied until the evening when it was released into the jungle. Its position suggests that it is ready to jump and escape to freedom.

Olla

Olla

Vessel used in cooking and for ceremonial occasions.


Cacique Marocael

Cacique Marocael

Aboriginal that, according to mythology Taino, stand guard in a cave called cacibajagua; place where people came to populate the island. One day it took to reach his post and was turned into stone by the action of the sun.

God of Cohoba

God of Cohoba

Main deity Taíno. The plate of his head was used to move the dust that was inhaled hallucinogen in ceremonies regligiosas (rite of cohoba).

Abundance

Abundance

Recreation brothers Guillen, based on Taino art. The container carrying in his hands is a symbol of prosperity and peace, which each man achieved as a result of work.

Reference – tainomuseum.org

Knowing something about Taino symbols will also give you a richer understanding of the Puerto Rican culture as a whole. Also, learning more about Taino symbols will add more meaning to your Puerto Rican travels.