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Ritual Spatula or Swallow Stick

Arts of the Americas

The Taino of the Caribbean islands centered their religion on the worship of zemis, or deities. Shamans (behiques) served as intermediaries between supernatural and natural worlds. They communicated with deities by inhaling cohoba powder, a hallucinogen that was mixed with tobacco to maximize its effect. Carved spoons were used to ladle the powder, which was then inhaled through the nose with a tube. Before ingestion, the shaman purified himself by purging with a vomiting stick. Ritual objects of bone and wood such as the ones seen here were exquisitely carved with images of zemis, who helped the shaman achieve ecstatic states.

Los Taíno de las islas Caribeñas centraban su religión en la adoración de zemis o deidades. Los chamanes (behiques) servían como intermediarios entre los mundos sobrenatural y natural. Ellos se comunicaban con las deidades mediante la inhalación del polvo de cohoba, un alucinógeno que se mezclaba con tabaco para maximizar su efecto. Cucharas talladas se usaban para verter el polvo, el cual era inhalado con un tubo por la nariz. Antes de ingerirlo, el chamán se purificaba purgándose con una espátula para vomitar. Objetos rituales de hueso y madera como los que se ven aquí estaban exquisitamente tallados con imágenes de zemis, quienes ayudaban al chamán a alcanzar el estado de trance.

DATES 1200–1500
DIMENSIONS 6 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 2 1/2 in. (16.5 x 3.2 x 6.4 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Anonymous gift
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Taino. Ritual Spatula or Swallow Stick, 1200–1500. Bone, 6 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 2 1/2 in. (16.5 x 3.2 x 6.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 1997.175.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1997.175.1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1997.175.1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Taino. <em>Ritual Spatula or Swallow Stick</em>, 1200–1500. Bone, 6 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 2 1/2 in. (16.5 x 3.2 x 6.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 1997.175.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1997.175.1.jpg)