Axe and Cemí

Taíno Culture, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic
The Cemí is a sculpture that is meant to represent the spirit of an ancestor. They are said to have strong spiritual energy and magical powers They vary in appearance. Some are in the form of stone necklaces and face masks, while some are just large stone heads. Caciques (or chiefs) in Taino culture underwent “cemification” where the bodies were burned, and the skulls would be kept since they held immense power.

Primary Sources

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José R. Oliver. (2009). Caciques and Cemi Idols : The Web Spun by Taino Rulers Between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. University Alabama Press; eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost).