Puerto Rican Art Essays

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Puerto Rican Art

Historically, Puerto Rico is only 512 years old. The island was discovered on November 19, 1493 by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. On the island he found Taino Indians living there. Juan Ponce de León came to the island in 1508 as its first governor. In 1521, the city of San Juan was established.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Puerto Rico was attacked by the Dutch and English, Spain’s enemies. The island was struggling to attain economical stability by raising cattle and farming on a small scale. By the end of the nineteenth century, Puerto Rico had grown considerably socially, economically, and politically. The Cédula de Gracias of 1815 offered many incentives and
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The word Taino means peace and friendship, and they were a peaceful people. Because of the benevolen climate on the island, the Indians lived a leisurely life, farmed, fished and worked on their crafts.
They were skillful in stone sculpture, shell and bone carvings, pottery, and gold plating. The Indians made charms and amulets, ceremonial artifacts, and everyday utensils in clay, cotton, and straw, wood, stone, shells, and bone. Among their stone sculptures are stone collars and belts, cemis, face masks, dujos (duhos), and weapons. Their work was of religious content and is not easily understood.

The stone collars could have served a series of purposes, from protective game gear in the batey, a type of ball game the indians played , to funeral offerings. There were two types of collars, the massive oval or the slender pear-shaped form. The collars were very heavy and it took many years to finish one. The indians also carved cemis out of stone or wood. These three-pointed carvings frequently depict the form of human or animal heads on one end and animal legs on the other, sometimes the head is found in the central projection. At times the cemi is not carved at all, it is simply a three-pointed stone or wood figure. The cemi was believed to have magical to religious powers.

Stone Collars

The stone face masks that have been found seem to have had ceremonial significance. They may have been

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