Una foto de los tainos del Museo del Hombre Dominicano

During my visit of January 2010 (and again in 2012), I was able to visit, along with the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo and the Dominican countryside, the Museo of the Domincan Man (El Museo del Hombre Dominicano). This museum is quite a good source of historical information as well as more recent manifestations of Domican culture, which are often echoes of the country’s past. Here, one can see how the Taino Indians, the Spaniards, and of course, the Africans, all played important parts in the development of the nation’s identity and cultural patterns. This tends to be true of many Caribbean and Latin-American countries.
Rodrigo's Land Los tainos en el museo
Here you can see a picture of a representation of the Taino Indians, who play an important part later on in my novel.
Even though they were decimated and their culture was largely destroyed within just a few decades of the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean, there were vestiges that persist even today. For example, most Dominicans, as well as most Puerto Ricans, carry some Taino genes, as there was obviously a lot of intermixing with the European conquerors. Also, there many words from the taino language that exist in modern Spanish and some even made their way into English; some examples are barbacoa (related to the English word “barbecue”), hamaca for a hanging bed (consider the English word “hammock”), and maraca, which is where both languages get the word “maracas” for gourds still with their seeds that make a nice instrument.

It is also widely understood that certain foods and methods of cooking used by the Tainos, which are indicated in this photo, have echoes in the Hispanic Caribbean today. For example, we see here the preparation of Cassava (or “casavi”) bread here. Once all the poison has been ground out, people could bake the bread in flat patties on a fire, which one can still see today. Another important food is the use of yuca and other starchy tubers that are used today, along with rice, beans, and plaintains, as staples of the diet of many U.S. Hispanics with Latin roots as well as people in the Caribbean.

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