Our knowledge of the Taíno comes from several sources. Sixteenth¬ century Spanish chronicles provide incomplete but crucial information about Taíno society. Archaeological excavation of Taíno sites, which began about 1950, has unearthed many types of pottery and artifacts, confirmed Taíno burial customs, and revealed what their ancient communities looked like. Ethnologists have shed further light on Taíno daily life, myths, and ceremonies by gathering comparative data from contemporary societies with similar cultures in Venezuela and the Guianas. Ceremonial objects made by the Taíno—ceremonial seats (duhos), ball¬game belts, scepters, sculptures of spirits and ancestors, and ornaments of semiprecious stones, gold, shell, and bone—had parallels in Mesoamerica and South America. Most importantly, it has become clear that the Taíno worldview was distinctly pre-Columbian in its conception of the universe and its profound spirituality.
Bartolomé de Las Casas, An Account of the First Voyages and Discoveries Made by the Spaniards in America (Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias), 1699, 248 pages, leather-bound, includes two loose sheets with illustrations, Collection El Museo del Barrio, NY, Gift of Suzi, Conrad and Charles S. Arensberg - in honor of our father, Charles Covert Arensberg, Pb2001.3, Detail.