Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey

Tainos: Mythology and Cosmology (Chapter 7)- Sebastián Robiou Lamarche

Entry Questions

After watching the video, discuss in the chatbox:

.What is the function of this myth?

.What aspects of Caribbean eco-systems and/or Taino society, the myth looks to explain?

Sebastián Robiou Lamarche is a historian dedicated primarily to the study of the Tainos and Caribs, the two main indigenous people of the Caribbean. The chapter “Tainos: Mythology and Cosmology” from his book Tainos and Caribs The Aboriginal of the Antilles offer us a description of the recuperated Taino myths, ancestral storytelling, cosmology, and spiritual views.

Oral/slide presentations on the essay “Tainos: Mythology and Cosmology” (Chapter 7)



Caraballo,Katelin Regalada


Robiou Lamarche organizes his re-count of Taino myths by dividing them into different cycles.

The first cycle (pp.106-110) describes Taino origins  in the spiritual realm:

.Yaya also know as Yocahú is the spirit, cause, and essence of life. He lives in heaven and is immortal. He has no beginning and his mother is Atabey.

.With Atabey we can identify the feminine/fertility principle in Taino culture.

.The struggle with son Yayael leads to a sacrifice and the creation of our world. It also initiates the cult of ancestors.

The second cycle (pp. 110-112) corresponds to the creation of the Taino universe in the Antilles:

.The Tainos emerged in the Caribbean from Ayiti (Haiti).

.Caves were considered a kind of uterus, the portal of entry and exit to the underworld.

.When leaving the cave some Tainos were transformed by the sun into different natural beings: stone, tree, and bird.

.These myths let us know the deep connection between Tainos and their ecosystems.

The third cycle (pp.113-115) is dedicated to the formation of Taino Society:

.Guahayona and Anacacuya were among the first Taino to emerge from the Cacibajagua cave.

.Their troubled relationship lets us understand the division of power and gender within Taino society.

.Guahayona separates women from men and submerges Anacacuya into the sea.

.Anacacuya, the mythical cacique, is associated with both the underwater world and with Polaris, the star at the center. Astronomical knowledge was a pursuit of Antillean Tainos.

.Guahayona, the behique or shaman, is connected to navigation, travels, and spiritual rituals.

The fourth cycle (pp. 116-117) is the stage of growth, development expansion, and consolidation of Taino people.

.The ancestors of Taino women are androgynous celestial beings.

.The women were transformed by woodpeckers by carving Jobo trees.

.This cycle represents the reunification of men and women.

Group Discussion

Pass the baton activity

According to the video, in which ways have the native Taino legacy perdured in Puerto Rico?