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The Taino Way

The Taino Indians lived in permanent villages, mostly in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Each village contained between one family and over a thousand, or one to fifty houses. The houses were made of wood and had thatched roofs. Each one housed several families. The village was divided between an upper class (nitaino) and a lower class (nabori). The villages were governed by chiefs known as caciques. The clothing, or lack of it, consisted of short skirts called "nagua" worn by the women. Men went naked. Unmarried women wore headbands, and all women wore feathers or some variation of jewelry dangling from their nose septum. The Tainos farmed in a distinct method in which they heaped mounds of earth in order to cultivate roots. The crops of choice were yuca, sweet potato and sometimes corn. The importance of food is evident, as the main deity they worshipped was Yucahu, god of Yuca (the other, his mother, was Atabey, goddess of fresh water and fertility). Besides farming, the Tainos hunted and fished. To fish, they used nets,spears, hooks and lines. Their favorite meats were turtle and a type of barkless dog, now extinct. Most respected in the village were the shamans. The shamans preserved rituals, religious ceremonies, and of course, the health of the people. Their houses faced the main plaza, typical of every Taino village. AT the main plaza, dances, ceremonies, and bateys were held. Batey was a game played with a rubbery ball. There were 24 Indians players on each of two teams. Divided by generation, father would play son. The game was similar to volleyball except for one main difference. The captain of the losing team sacrificed his life. The Tainos traveled by canoes. Made of hollowed out logs, they carried up to 150 men. The only other means of travel was by foot. Polygyny was the preferred form of marriage. However, only caciques could afford to have several wives.

Although there is still not much known about these proud people, artifacts have recently been discovered in the Dominican Republic, and possibly the remains of a new city. With new information, we will be able to find out more about the Tainos- their daily lives, their different tribes and their ways of living. Below are some links with information that we do have, as well as information on some of the recently discovered artifacts.


Taino Artifacts Recently Discovered:
Taino Museum Homepage: More pictures of artifacts.
The Taino World: You guessed it, more pictures of artifacts!