These artefacts cut across the main catagories of Taino carving--cemis, feast platters, duhos, reliquaries and cohoba stands.
For the most part, these carvings--like the cohoba stand acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) in 1979 (Figure 2)--were circulating in private hands prior to their deposit in museum collections: Edna Dakeyne, who sold the cohoba stand to Nelson Rockefeller in 1955, originally acquired it through an auction in Ireland sometime in the mid 1930s (Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Database, Provenance)--its collection history is undoubtedly deeper still.
Two of the five artefacts--the cohoba stand and reliquary--were carved from boles or branches roughly 310-330mm in diameter (inclusive of 80mm sapwood estimates), suggesting that artisans had access to substantial trees, presumably near to their villages.
Pieces such as the MMA cohoba stand (Figure 2), long considered the apogee of Taino art and attributed to the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries (Newton 1978: 159), reveal that this scale and artistry was present as early as AD 902-1035 (latest of four dates at 95.
Modelling the dates for the two sculptures reveals that the MMA cohoba stand is likely to be slightly earlier (AD 974-1020) than the Musee Barrois reliquary (AD 1052-1176).
Identity of cohoba, the narcotic snuff of ancient Haiti.
In 1916, Safford provided evidence that snuffs being recognized variously by the terms yopo, niopo, yupa, yupa, wilca and cohoba were all derived from the seeds of the same leguminous tree, Anandenantheraperegrina (Safford 1916).
The role of the manipulation of wooden image-zemis in articulating shamanic links between the physical world and the spirit realm is seen in the important cohoba ceremony.
By snuffing the hallucinogenic cohoba powder,(2) Taino caciques and shamans (bohitu) communed with the spirit world (Bourne 1906: 327; D'Anghera 1970: 174), particularly, it appears, with ancestor spirits resident within trees and wooden zemis, an association suggested by the arboreal nature of cohoba.
Wooden zemis, cohoba and trees associate the physical and supernatural worlds of the Taino in ways which are deeply rooted in wider Amerindian as well as specifically lowland Amazonian traditions of mythic thought (e.
Chiefly duhos, canoes (Wilson 1986: 143-4) and ritual paraphernalia, such as cohoba snuffing tubes, were associated with Taino caciques and shamans (Helms 1986: 27, 29).
2 After much confusion concerning botanical identification, it is now recognized that cohoba was hallucinogenic snuff made from the ground seeds of Anadenanthera peregrina (Naxon 1993: 178; Wilbert 1987: 17-18), a mimosa-like tree, closely related to A.