The Taino are pre-Colombian indigenous Amerindian inhabitants of the Greater Antilles islands, which include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Bahamas.  In the center of a typical Taíno village (yucayeque) was a flat court (batey) used for various social activities such as games, various festivals and public ceremonies.  Houses would surround this court.  The Taíno played a ceremonial ball game called "Batu" between opposing teams (of 10 to 30 players per team) using a solid rubber ball.  Batu was also used for conflict resolution between communities. 

Taíno society was divided into four main sections: 

         1.  naboria (common people)
2.  nitaíno (sub-chiefs)
        3.  bohique (priests/healers)
4.  cacique (chieftains)

Often, the general population lived in large circular buildings (bohio), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves.  These houses could hold 10-15 families.  The caciques and his family would live in rectangular buildings (caney) of similar construction, with wooden porches.

The Taíno practised a mainly agrarian lifestyle but also fished and hunted.  They sometimes wore gold jewelry, paint, and/or, shells.  Taíno men sometimes wore short skirts.  Taíno women wore a similar garment (nagua) after marriage.  The Taíno spoke a form of Arawak and used the words:  barbacoa (barbecue), hamaca (hammock), canoa (canoe), tabaco (tobacco), yuca (yucca) and huracán (hurricane) which have been incorporated into the Spanish and English languages.

The Taíno culture was nearly destroyed in the 16th Century, decimated by genocide, introduced disease, and forced assimilation into the plantation economy that Spain imposed in its Caribbean colonies, with its subsequent importation of African slave workers.  There was substantial mestizage as well as several Indian pueblos that survived into the 19th Century (Cuba).  The spaniards who first arrived in the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola in 1492, and later in Puerto Rico in 1508, did not bring women.  They took Taíno wives in civil marriages, and had mestizo children. 
Reference:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taino 


Our Taíno Indians used to play the "Batu" game, maybe well known today as a football game.


Reference:  Taínos de Borikén: Láminas Latino No. 16


Here you could see our Taino Women at the "Batey" (patio) doing their daily chores.

Reference:  Taínos de Borikén: Láminas Latino No. 16


They called Yucayeke to the village or community they used to live.

Reference: Taínos de Borikén: Láminas Latino No. 16



 This arms were used by the Taíno Indian to fight against Spaniards.

Reference:  Taínos de Borikén: Láminas Latino No. 16


The petroglyph is the way that the Taino Indians communicate to each other.  It was a method of writing.

The Taíno Petroglyph
(Located in Utuado, P.R.)

Reference:  www.elboricua.com/history.html

The Taíno Petroglyph

Reference:  photo took by Aurye from the Museum of Caguas, Puerto Rico

The Taíno Petroglyph

Reference:   http://www.elboricua.com/history.html


The Taíno Petroglyph
(Located in Jayuya, P.R.)

Reference:  Osvaldo Medina 1999, Cybernet Online News



Taíno Chieftain Agueybaná


Agüeybaná, whose name means "The Great Sun", lived with his tribe in "Guaynia" (Guayanilla) located by the river of the same name, on the southern part of the island. All the other Caciques were subject to and had to obey Agüeybaná, even though they governed their own tribes.Agüeybaná, believing that the Spaniards were gods, received the Spanish "conquistador"  Juan Ponce de León with open arms upon his arrival in 1508. According to an old Taíno tradition, Agüeybaná became guaitiao (friends) with Ponce de León, and their wives exchanged names. Ponce de León baptized the Cacique's mother into the Christian religion and renamed her Inés. The hospitality and friendly treatment that the Spaniards received from Agüeybaná made it easy for them to conquer the island.  Agüeybaná's actions helped to maintain the peace between the Taínos and the Spaniards. This, however, was only a short-lived peace because the Spaniards soon took advantage of the Taínos' good faith and enslaved them: forcing them to work in the island's gold mines and in the construction of  forts. Many Taínos died as a result. 
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ag%C3%BCeyban%C3%A1

Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ag%C3%BCeyban%C3%A1

Taíno Chieftain Arasibo

Aracibo (born c. 1480's) was a Taíno Cacique in Puerto Rico who Governed the area which is now named after him (now spelled Arecibo).  Arasibo governed a tribe whose village was located by the shore of the river "Abacoa" (now known as the "Rio Grande de Arecibo"). Arasibo had been known to be a "just" and respected cacique and his tribe had led a peaceful existence before the arrival of the Spaniards.  The rivers close to the village were full of fish and turtles and so it was only natural that the members of Arasibo's tribe were fishermen. Their land produced many fruits, such as mangos and papayas;  the tribe were cultivators of corn and rice. Arasibo loved to collect all kinds of animals and birds. He, like the rest of the other Caciques, reported only to the "Supreme Cacique" Agueybaná.   The relationship between the Spaniards and the Tainos was peaceful at first, however, all that changed when the "Conquistadores" started to enslave the natives. Agueybana's brother Agueybaná II discovered that the Spaniards were not "gods" and this encouraged the Cacique to rebel against the invaders. The rebellion failed after Juan Ponce de León's troops confronted and killed Agüeybaná.
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arasibo


Taíno Chieftain Hayuya

Hayuya (born c. 1470's) was the Taíno Cacique (Chief) who governed the area in Puerto Rico,  which now bears his name (which is now spelled "Jayuya").  When the Spaniards arrived in "Borikén" (Puerto Rico), they were greeted with open arms by the Tainos, who lived a peaceful and organized life. This made it easy for Juan Ponce de León and his men to conquer the island. Before the Spaniards arrived, the Tainos had a form of government where each region had a tribe headed by a Cacique. Some of the Caciques, like Hayuya, were more powerful than others.  They all, however, responded to the "Supreme Cacique", which at that time was Agueybaná.  The area that Hayuya dominated is considered to be the "birth place" of the Taino culture in the island.  However, the Spaniards soon started to enslave the natives.  According to the "Cronicals of the Indias" which are found in Seville, Spain, Hayuya lived and governed the area which is now named after him, in the interior central part of Puerto Rico.  On September 7, 1513 Juan Ponce de Leon, who was appointed governor by the "Spanish Crown", sent troops headed by Alonso Niño and Alonso de Mendoza, to "squash" the rebellious Tainos. When they arrived at Hayuya's village, they proceeded to raid and murder its inhabitants. They burned the village to the ground. The Tainos that survived were taken prisoners and some were made to work the mines as slaves and the others were sent to Spain where they were sold as slaves for 145 "pesos".
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayuya

Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayuya

Taíno Chieftain Jumacao

Jumacao a.k.a. Jumaca (born c. 1480's) was the Taíno Cacique (Chief) of the area in Puerto Rico named after him (now spelled Humacao).   The Tainos, who lived in Puerto Rico long before the arrival of the Spaniards, were an organized and peaceful people. The only problems they had were occasionally with the cannibals of the Carib tribes. The Cacique was the head of the tribe and the governor of his region. They reported to the "Supreme Cacique", who during Jumacao's time was the Cacique Agueybaná.  When the Spaniards arrived, Agueybana received Juan Ponce de León with open arms.  This extended friendship was soon to end because the "Conquistadores" started to enslave the Tainos and to destroy their way of life.  According to the "Chronicles of the Indias", which are kept in Seville, Spain,  in February 1511 Agueybana's brother Agueybaná II, Urayoan, the Cacique of Añasco and some of their men drowned the Spanish soldier Diego Salcedo.  They watched over Salcedo's body to see if he came back to life. When he did not, the Tainos realized that the Spaniards were not "Gods" after all.  The Cacique Jumacao was the first Cacique to learn how to read and write in Spanish. He proved this by writing a letter to King Charles I of Spain, complaining that the appointed governor of the island was not honoring the peace treaty and that he and the other Caciques had virtually become prisoners of the governor.
Reference:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumacao


Reference:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumacao


Taíno Chieftain Mabodamaca
"El Cacique Taino-Mabodamaca"





The Taíno Indian referred to Cemi as a God.

Reference:  http://www.elboricua.com/history.html



These utensils were handmade and used by the Taíno Indians.

Reference:  Taínos de Borikén:  Láminas Latino No. 16

Utensils used by the Taíno Indian

Reference:  http://poncr.inter.edu/tibes/inglés/objetos.html



Our Father in Taino

Guakia baba (Our Father)
turey toca (is in sky)
guami-ke-ni (Lord of land and water)
guami-caraya-guey (Lord of moon and sun)
guariko (come to)
guakia (us)
tayno-ti (good, tall)
bo-matun; (big, generous)
busica (give to)
guakia (us)
aje-cazabi; (tubercles, bread)
juracan-na (bad spirit, no)
maboya-ua (ghost, no)
jukiyu-jan;  (good spirit, yes)
Diosa (of God)
nabori daca (servant am I)
Jan-jan catu (so be it)

(From prehistoria de Puerto Rico, Dr. Cayetano Call y Toste)
Reference:  http://prboriken.com/taino.htm


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