Artifacts made by the Taino people of the Antilles Islands are the subject of a talk at the Northeast Harbor library July 6. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAM SHAW

Ritual art of the Taino



NORTHEAST HARBOR — Larry Roberts will give an illustrated talk on the hallucinogenic rituals of Native Peoples of the greater Antilles Islands Friday, July 6, at 5:30 p.m. at the Northeast Harbor Library.

Roberts, of Gainesville, Fla., has just completed a book on the rituals and artifacts of the Taino people called “Taino Hallucinogenic Implements – Inhaling the Cosmic Dust.” He is a collector of Taino artifacts and will be bringing many to the talk to be handled.

The Taino people lived in the Greater Antilles, from Cuba to the Virgin Islands, as well as the Bahamas, occupying the islands from circa 1000 to 1500 AD, according to Sam Shaw, who is sponsoring the talk. They brought the lithic talents of pan America to the islands forming a homogeny of artistic influences incorporating animal allies, natural phenomena and shamanism.

The Shaw Gallery in Northeast Harbor will also be showing Taino artifacts in association with this lecture.

“What is interesting is this creative impetus was centered on the ceremonial consumption of the hallucinogen cohoba,” Shaw said. “Literally all ritual art was considered living, imbued with spiritual beings who shared their wisdom during altered states of consciousness.”

Roberts will bring numerous anthropomorphic and zoomorphic artifacts from his personal collection. He is a published author with two books featuring Taino ceremonial goods.

“The Taino aesthetic is a wonderful mix of environmental and spiritual elements,” Shaw said. “Using nothing more than Stone Age tools, native craftsmen carved local semiprecious stones creating magnificent mythical beings, ancestral representations and shamanic transformations that are unmatched in pre-Columbian cultures.”

Contact the library at 276-3333 or the Shaw Gallery at 276-5000.

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