Above is a more accurate picture of a modern Taino. XD
For those of you who don’t know, the Tainos were the first Native Americans ever encountered by European colonists. They were friendly, peaceful islanders whose only real problems were raids from the more savage Carib tribe. Columbus described them as tall and slender, in contrast to the mainland central tribes who were short and stocky.
The Tainos were fishermen and hunters of small game. My ancestors in particular, the Classical Tainos, were more organized and advanced and were very good farmers that could very well have rivaled American farmers before the Dust Bowl. Their villages were usually circular grass huts with the chief, or cacique, living in a rectangular hut with a porch. They had an aristocracy that was called the nitaino class, and the commoners were called naborios.
Unlike the very advanced societies of the Central and South Americas, my ancestors did not practice human sacrifice or cannibalism. They were ancestors worshippers and had gods for their cash crops. They had priests who were used for divine communication and healing.
Their language is an Arawakan dialect that was spoken by many of the islanders, including the enemy Carib women due to the Carib tribesmen capturing Taino women for their wives. Columbus described the language as beautiful with a laugh at the end of every sentence. Their language is still conserved in some aspects, and the names of the former villages still live on (Mayaguez, for example). Some of their names live on as well, although they have gone out of style due to American influence. My personal favorite is Akiyu.
Music-wise, they were the ones who created the güiro and the maracas. That’s right, maracas are Puerto Rican, not Mexican.
Taino art usually consisted of white-on-red pottery paintings, statues, and glyphs. Their art was simplistic in comparison to the art of the mainlanders. Clothing was made of cotton and was usually in the form of skirts, headbands, and stone jewelry. Gold was not mined, but found in gravel and used for jewelry and piercings.
Today, there are no full blood Tainos left. The people who weren’t killed the epidemics of European disease assimilated into the society of the Spanish colonies. Many married into the Spanish or had relationships with fellow African slaves. In Puerto Rico, you may still find some islanders that have the thick straight hair, dark skin, and hooked noses of the natives. My own grandfather on my mother’s side appears the most native in my family and I myself stand apart my more Spanish-looking family members with my native nose. Native blood doesn’t always run as thick with most islanders having 10-15% of native genes.
There are some people who embrace their native heritage by dressing up and performing some rituals that were recorded. While I support this conservation of culture, I don’t approve of Puerto Ricans claiming that they are the Tainos and aren’t extinct. I appreciate it even less when they encourage other Puerto Ricans to forsake their Spanish and African heritages. You want to find a pure Taino? Look at the picture because that’s as close as you’re going to get.
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