Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

‘Made … With Admirable Artistry’: The Context, Manufacture and History of a Taíno Belt

  • Joanna Ostapkowicz (a1)

Abstract

Vienna's Museum für Völkerkunde holds in its collections a rare sixteenth-century Taíno cotton belt from Hispaniola (today's Dominican Republic/Haiti) – one of only two surviving Taíno cotton artefacts to feature European ‘exotics’, including mirrors, jet beads and brass. This complex woven structure – a wearable work of art – offers a rare window on to one of the most prestigious of Taíno valuables, a personal ornament that literally wrapped the wearer in wealth, status and spiritual power. The paper charts the original context and use of Taíno belts, and provides a detailed account of the Vienna belt's collection history, its construction and its chronological placement (radiocarbon-dated using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) to ad 1475–1635). The question of how and when the European materials were incorporated into the belt is explored, critically engaging the entangled histories of association between the two.

Le Museum für Völkerkunde de Vienne possède dans ses collections une ceinture en coton de Taíno très rare du xvie siècle provenant d'Hispaniola (aujourd'hui divisée entre la République dominicaine et Haïti) – l'un des deux seuls objets en coton de Taíno ayant survécu à présenter des aspects européens « exotiques », y compris des miroirs, des billes de jais et du cuivre. Cette structure tissée complexe – une œuvre d'art à porter – offre un rare aperçu sur l'un des objets précieux les plus prestigieux de Taíno, un ornement personnel qui conférait à son propriétaire richesse, statut social et pouvoir spirituel. L'article, qui expose le contexte et l'utilisation originaux des ceintures de Taíno, relate un récit détaillé sur cette ceinture de Vienne, sa fabrication et son positionnement chronologique (que le carbone 14 situe vers 1475–1635). Comment et quand ces matériaux européens ont-ils été intégrés à la ceinture, c'est l'objet d'une étude qui tente de démêler d'un point de vue critique les histoires qui leur sont associées.

In der Sammlung des Wiener Völkerkundemuseums befindet sich ein seltener Taíno- Baumwollgürtel aus dem 16. Jahrhundert aus Hispaniola (der heutigen Dominikanischen Republik/Haiti). Er ist eines von nur zwei erhaltenen Artefakten der Taíno aus Baumwolle, die europäische “Exotika”, wie Spiegel, Jett und Messing enthalten. Die komplexe Webstruktur, die man als ein tragbares Kunstwerk bezeichnen kann, bietet uns einen seltenen Einblick in einen der prestigeträchtigsten Wertgegenstände der Taíno, nämlich ein persönliches Ornament, das den Träger buchstäblich in Wohlstand, Status und spirituelle Macht hüllte. Die Abhandlung erfasst den ursprünglichen Kontext und die Verwendung der Taíno-Gürtel und bringt eine ausführliche Darstellung von Geschichte, Aufbau und chronologischer Platzierung (mittels AMS-Radiokarbondatierung in die Zeit von 1475–1635 platziert) der Wiener Gürtelsammlung. Die Frage, wie und wann das europäische Material in den Gürtel aufgenommen wurde, wird untersucht und die verwickelte Geschichte der Beziehung zwischen beiden – Europa und Taíno – wird kritisch ausgeleuchtet.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Alegría, R E 1980. Cristóbal Colón y el tesoro de los Indios Taínos de la Española, Santo Domingo: Fundación García-Arévalo
Alegría, R E 1995. ‘La vestimenta y los adornos de los caciques Taínos y la paraphernalia asociada a sus funciones mágico-religiosas’, in Proceedings of the XV International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology (eds R E Alegría and M Rodríguez), 295309, San Juan: Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe
Bernáldez, A 1992. ‘Memoirs of the Catholic Sovereigns’ reign’, in Christopher Columbus's Discoveries in the Testimonials of Diego Alvarez Chanca and Andrés Bernáldez (ed A Unali; trans G Triolo and L F Farina), 61203, Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca Dello Stato, Libreria Dello Stato
Biscione, M 1991. ‘Lo zemi del Museo pigorini: problemi di interpretazione’, in Gli Indios di Hispaniola e la Prima Colonizzazione Europea in America (ed A B Chiarelli), 77–83, Florence: Istituto Geografico Militare
Biscione, M 1997. ‘Epilogue: the beaded zemi in the Pigorini Museum: history and problems of interpretation’, in Brecht et al 1997, 158–63
Brecht, F, Brodsky, E, Farmer, J ATaylor, D 1997. Taíno: pre-Columbian art and culture from the Caribbean, New York: Monacelli Press
Bronk Ramsey, C 2010. ‘OxCal Program, v. 4.1.7’, Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford, 〈http://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/oxcalhelp/hlp_develop.html〉 (13 May 2013)
Bujok, E 2009. ‘Ethnographica in early modern Kunstkammern and their perception’, J Hist Collect, 21 (1), 1732
Carlson, L A 1993. ‘Strings of command: manufacture and utilization of shell beads among the Taíno’, unpublished MA thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville
Ciruzzi, S 1983. ‘Gli antichi oggetti americani nelle collezioni del Museo Nazionale e Etnologia di Firenze’, Archivo per l'Antropologia e la Etnologia, 113, 151165
Colón, F 1992. The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, by his son Ferdinand (trans B Keen), New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press
Deagan, K 1987. Artifacts of the Spanish Colonies of Florida and the Caribbean, 1500–1800. Vol 1: Ceramics, Glassware and Beads, Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press
Deagan, K 2002. Artifacts of the Spanish Colonies of Florida and the Caribbean, 1500–1800. Vol 2: Portable Personal Possessions, Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press
Deagan, K 2004. ‘Reconsidering Taíno social dynamics after conquest: gender and class in culture contact studies’, American Antiquity, 69 (4), 597626
Deagan, KCruxent, J M 2002. Archaeology at La Isabela, America's First European Town, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press
Diemer, P von, Elke, BDorothea, D 2004. Johann Baptist Fickler: Das Inventar de Munchner herzoglichen Kunstkammer von 1598, Munich: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Duncan, D E 1996. Hernando de Soto: a savage quest in the Americas, Norman, Okla: University of Oklahoma Press
Feest, C F 1985. ‘Mexico and South America in the European Wunderkammer’, in Impey and MacGregor 1985, 237–44
Feest, C F 1986. ‘Zemes Idolum Diabolicum: surprise and success in ethnographic Kunstkammer research’, Archiv für Völkerkunde, 40, 181198
Feest, C F 1990. ‘Vienna's Mexican treasures: Aztec, Mixtec and Tarascan works from sixteenth-century Austrian collections’, Archiv für Völkerkunde, 44, 164
Feest, C F 1991. ‘Beaded belt’, in Circa 1492: art in the age of exploration (ed J A Levenson), 580581, Washington: National Gallery of Art
Fučíková, E 1985. ‘The collection of Rudolf II at Prague: cabinet of curiosities or scientific museum’, in Impey and MacGregor 1985, 47–53
Guitar, L A 1998. ‘Cultural genesis: relationships among Indians, Africans and Spaniards in rural Hispaniola, first half of the sixteenth century’, PhD thesis, Vanderbilt University, Ann Arbor, Mich: University Microfilms International, 〈http://disexpress.umi.com/dxweb
Hadsund, P 1993. ‘The tin-mercury mirror: its manufacturing technique and deterioration process’, Stud Conserv, 38 (1), 316
Heikamp, D 1976. ‘American objects in Italian collections of the Renaissance and baroque: a survey’, in First Images of America: the impact of the New World on the Old. Vol I (ed F Chiappelli), 455481, Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press
Heikamp, DAnders, F 1970. ‘Mexikanische Altertümer aus süddeutschen Kunstkammern’, Pantheon, 28, 205220
Heikamp, DAnders, F 1972. Mexico and the Medici, Florence: Editrice Edam
Impey, OMacGregor, A (eds) 1985. The Origins of Museums: the cabinet of curiosities in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Jane, C 1967. Select Documents Illustrating the Four Voyages of Columbus, reprint, New York: Kraus
Keegan, W 2007. Taíno Indian Myth and Practice: the arrival of the stranger king, Florida Museum of Natural History, Ripley P Bullen series, Gainesville, Fla: University Press of Florida
Kelker, N LBruhns, K O 2010. Faking Ancient Mesoamerica, Walnut Creek, Calif: Left Coast Press
Kenseth, J 1991. ‘A world of wonders in one closet shut’, in The Age of the Marvelous (ed J Kenseth), Hanover, NH: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Kerchache, J 1994. L'Art des sculpteurs taïnos: chefs-d’œuvre des Grandes Antilles précolombiennes, Paris: Musées de la Ville de Paris
Kock, JSode, T 2002. ‘Medieval glass mirrors in southern Scandinavia and their technique, as still practised in India’, J Glass Stud, 44, 79
Las Casas, B de 1951. Historia de las Indias, 3 vols, Biblioteca Americana Mexica, Serie de cronistas de Indias 1517, Mexico: Fundo de Cultura Económica
Las Casas, B de 1967. Apologética Historia Sumaria, 2 vols, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas
Laurencich-Minelli, L 1982. ‘Dispersione e recupero della collezione Cospi’, Deputazione di Storia Patria della Provincia di Romagna, 32, 185202
Martinón-Torres, M, Valcárcel Rojas, R, Cooper, JRehren, T 2007. ‘Metals, microanalysis and meaning: a study of metal objects excavated from the indigenous cemetery of El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba’, J Archaeol Sci, 34 (2), 194204
Mol, A A A 2007. Costly Giving, Giving Guaízas: towards an organic model of the exchange of social valuables in the Late Ceramic Age Caribbean, Leiden: Sidestone Press
Montás, O, Borrell, P JPons, F M 2003. Arte Taíno, Santo Domingo: Banco Central de la República Dominicana
Newson, L A 1976. Aboriginal and Spanish Colonial Trinidad: a study in culture contact, London: Academic Press
Oliver, A P H 1980. The Hamlyn Guide to Shells of the World, 2nd edn, London: Hamlyn
Oliver, J R 2009. Caciques and Cemí Idols: the web spun by Taíno rulers between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Tuscaloosa, Ala: University of Alabama Press
Ostapkowicz, J 1998. ‘Taíno wooden sculpture: duhos, rulership and the visual arts in the twelfth- to sixteenth-century Caribbean’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of East Anglia
Ostapkowicz, JNewsom, L 2012. ‘ “Gods adorned with the embroiderer's needle”: the materials, making and meaning of a Taíno cotton reliquary’, Latin American Antiquity, 23 (3), 300326
Ostapkowicz, J, Wiedenhoeft, A C, Bronk Ramsey, C, Ribechini, E, Wilson, S, Brock, FHigham, T 2011. ‘ “Treasures … of black wood, brilliantly polished”: five examples of Taíno sculpture from the tenth–sixteenth century Caribbean’, Antiquity, 85, 942959
Ostapkowicz, J, Bronk Ramsey, C, Brock, F, Higham, T, Wiedenhoeft, A C, Ribechini, E, Lucejko, J JWilson, S 2012. ‘Chronologies in wood and resin: AMS 14C dating of pre-Hispanic Caribbean wood sculpture’, J Archaeol Sci, 39, 22382251
Oviedo y Valdés, G F de 1992. Historia general y natural de las Indias, 5 vols, Biblioteca de Autores Españoles 117121, Madrid: Ediciones Atlas
Pané, R 1999. An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians, new edn (ed J J Arrom, trans S C Griswold), Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Parry, J HKeith, R G 1984. New Iberian World: a documentary history of the discovery and settlement of Latin America to the early seventeenth century, New York: Times Books
Rabineau, P 1975. ‘Catalogue of the Cashinahua collection’, in The Cashinahua of Eastern Peru (ed J Powell Dwyer), Studies in Anthropology and Material Culture 1, Boston: Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
Reimer, P J, Baillie, M G L, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, J W, Blackwell, P G, Bronk Ramsey, C, Buck, C E, Burr, G S, Edwards, R L, Friedrich, M, Grootes, P M, Guilderson, T P, Hajdas, I, Heaton, T J, Hogg, A G, Hughen, K A, Kaiser, K F, Kromer, B, McCormac, F G, Manning, S W, Reimer, R W, Richards, D A, Southon, J R, Talamo, S, Turney, C S M, van der Plicht, JWeyhenmeyer, C E 2009. ‘IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal bp, Radiocarbon, 51 (4), 11111150
Roe, P 1995. Arts of the Amazon (ed B Braun), London: Thames & Hudson
Roe, P 1997. ‘Epilogue: the beaded zemi in the Pigorini Museum’, in Brecht et al, 164–9
Roth, W E 1924. An Introductory Study of the Arts, Crafts and Customs of the Guiana Indians, 38th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1916–17, Washington: Smithsonian Institution
Rouse, I 1992. The Taínos: rise and decline of the people who greeted Columbus, New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press
Sauer, C O 1992. The Early Spanish Main, Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press
Scalini, M 2001. ‘Exotica in der mediceischen Kunstkammer: Bemerkungen zur Herkunftsfrage und zu ihrer einstigen Präsentation’, in Trnek and Haag 2001, 128–43
Schweeger-Hefel, A 1952. ‘Ein rätselhaftes Stück aus deralten Ambraser Sammlung’, Archiv für Völkerkunde, 6–7, 209228
Stark, B L, Heller, LOhnersorgen, M A 1998. ‘People with cloth: Mesoamerican economic change from the perspective of cotton in south-central Veracruz’, Latin American Antiquity, 9 (1), 130
Symcox, G 2002. Repertorium Columbianum. Vol XII: Italian Reports on America 1493–1522: accounts by contemporary observers, Turnhout: Brepols
Trnek, H vonHaag, S 2001. Exotica: Portugals Entdeckungen im Spiegel fürstlicher Kunst und Wunderkammern de Renaissance, Mainz: Zabern
Tudela, A P deGschwend, A J 2001. ‘Luxury goods for royal collectors: exotica, princely gifts and rare animals exchanged between the Iberian courts and Central Europe in the Renaissance (1560–1612)’, in Trnek and Haag 2001, 1–127
Valcárcel Rojas, R 2012. ‘Interacción colonial en un pueblo de indios encomendados: el Chorro de Maíta, Cuba’, PhD thesis, University of Leiden, 〈https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/20153〉 (17 Apr 2013)
Vega, B 1987. ‘Un cinturon tejido y una careta de Madera de Santo Domingo, del periodo de transculturacion Taíno-espanol’, in Santos, Shamanes y Zemies (ed B Vega), 1729, Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana
Walker, J 1993. ‘Stone collars, elbow stones and three pointers, and the nature of Taíno ritual and myth’, PhD thesis, Washington State University, Ann Arbor, Mich: University Microfilms International, 〈http://disexpress.umi.com/dxweb
Ward, G KWilson, S R 1978. ‘Procedures for comparing and combining radiocarbon age determinations: a critique’, Archaeometry, 20 (1), 1931
Wilson, S 1990. Hispaniola: Caribbean chiefdoms in the age of Columbus, Tuscaloosa, Ala: University of Alabama Press
Wilson, S 1993. ‘The cultural mosaic of the indigenous Caribbean’, Proc Brit Acad, 81, 3766

‘Made … With Admirable Artistry’: The Context, Manufacture and History of a Taíno Belt

  • Joanna Ostapkowicz (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed