Indigenous Caribbean Network

Gorras tainas------------------Taino caps

Takaji Tiaos

Como lo demuestra las escrituras de los cronistas espa~oles, nuestros antepasados tainos se cubrieron las cabezas con atuendos que en ciertas ocaciones se asemejaban a gorras. Tambien es parte de la cronica de los conquistadores el echo que al ofrecerles gorras de manufactura europea los tainos las acceptaron con gusto.

Lease aqui en :

"Los isleños eran amistosos y abiertos al comercio con los marinos.  Intercambiaban cualquier cosa: carreteles de algodón hilado, loros y lanzas, por las cuentas de cristal, gorras rojas y baratijas de los marinos."

As is made clear in the writings of the Spanish chroniclers, our Taino ancestors were in the habit of covering their heads with headgear that in many cases resembled caps. It is also a fact that some of those chronicles record instances in which upon being offered caps of European manufacture the Tainos accepted them eagerly.

Here is a passage from one of Christopher Columbus' journal:

"Presently many inhabitants of the island assembled... That we might form great friendship, ... I gave to some of them red caps, and glass beads to put round their necks, and many other things of little value, which gave them great pleasure, and made them so much our friends it was a marvel to see. They afterwards came to the ship's boats... bringing us parrots, cotton threads in skeins, spears, and many other things; and we exchanged them for... glass beads and small bells. "[Journal, Oct. 12, 1492]

La tradicion de usar gorras que cubren la cabeza entera se hace evidente atravez de los objetos de arte que ellos elaboraron que demuestran figuras antropomorfes con cubiertas en la cabeza que se definen obviamente como gorras. Vease aqui este ejemplar que ilustra la figura del personaje legendario Deminan Karakarakol.

The tradition of wearing caps that covered the whole head becomes evident in view of art objects that they created which clearly show anthropomorphic figures with headgear which are defined obviously as caps. Please refer to this example which illustrates the legendary character Deminan Karkarakol.

Los cronistas nos aseguran que los antiguos tainos tejian el algodon con gran abilidad, y creaban impresionantes telas de gran belleza. Se puede ver la coplexidad de estas telas en el llamado "cemi de algodon". E qui una imagen que demuestra en detalle esa complexidad.

The Spanish chroniclers assure us that the ancient Tainos wove cotton with great skill, and created impressive fabrics of great beauty. The complexity of these fabrics can be seen in the so-called "cotton cemi". Here is a close-up image of that piece which demonstrates that complexity.

Es obvio de acuerdo a otros hallazgos archeologicos que estas telas se usaban para elaborar prendas de vestir y como lo evidencia el ejemplar llamado "Cemi De Pigorini" que se creo despues de la conquista, algunas de esas prendas de vestir eran gorras que cubrian la cabeza entera. En este ejemplar la tela se a cubierto con una capa gruesa de cuentas de cristal adquiridas de los espa~oles. Pero debajo de esa capa de cuentas de cristal se observa la gorra de tela de manufactura indigena que cubre la cabeza del cemi. Es curioso ver el detalle de la ancha frontalera alrededor de la gorra que le hace circulo al la frente del cemi. Con toda seguridad esas frontaleras se cubrian con cuentas confeccionadas de caracol y piedras en tiempos antiguos antes de los espa~oles.

It is obvious that, according to other archeological discoveries, these fabrics were used to create some articles of clothing and as is evidenced by the piece known as the "Pigorini cemi" which was created after the Spanish conquest,  some of those articles of clothing were caps that covered the whole top of the head.. In this piece the cloth has been covered with a thick layer of glass beads aquired from the Spanish. But under that layer of glass beads we can observe the cloth cap made of Native fabric which covers the top of the cemi's head. It is interesting to observe the detail of the brow-band around the cap which makes a circle around the forehead of the cemi. Surely these brow-bands were covered with seashell and stone beads before the arrival of the Spanish.  

Esta es una imagen del cemi Pigorini..........This is an image of the Pigorini Cemi

Es razonable inferir que las gorras de los antiguos tainos se decoraban con plumas de cotorras y de otras aves nativas. Esto lo mencionan los cronistas. En la pagina 482 del libro "ORIGINS OF THE TAINAN CULTURE" de Sven Loven el escritor dice que Colon escribio que los guerreros pintados de rojo que el se encontro en la parte de Cuba llamada Baracoa ostentaban: "penachos en la cabeza y otras plumas".  Mas adelante Loven menciona que el admirante comento al arribar en Jamaica de unos nativos que traian: "en la cabeza un gran plumage de la hechura de zelada". Loven aqui opina que este comentario de Colon quiere decir que el plumaje de estos individuos es en forma de una gorra.

It is reasonable to infer that the caps worn by the ancient Tainos were decorated with feathers of parrots and other native birds. This is mentioned by the Spanish chroniclers. In page 482 of the book "ORIGINS OF THE TAINAN CULTURE" by Sven Loven the writer states that Columbus wrote that the red-painted warriors he encountered in the part of Cuba known as Baracoa wore: "feather headdresses and other feathers". Further on in the book Loven mentions that the admiral commented on certain natives upon his arrival in Jamaica who wore: "upon their heads great feather headdresses in the form of 'zelada' ". Loven here opines that this particular comment by Columbus refers to a cap of some sort.

Basado en la informacion que esta a la disposicion presentemente nosotros hemos calculado esta impresion de como debio de parecer una gorra taina tipica de la epoca anterior a la conquista. Esto no quiere decir que negamos la posibilidad de que tambien los antiguos tainos usaron penachos fijados a bandas o cintas que se ajustaban alrededor de la cabeza como lo usan muchos de nuestros hermanos y hermanas tainos corrientemente. Preo pensamos que existe bastante evidencia para mantener la opinion que los antiguos tainos usaban gorras y que esas gorras abundaban.

Based on the information that is at our disposal presently we have devised this impression of what the typical Taino cap must have looked like in the era before the conquest. This does not mean that we reject the possibility that that the ancient Tainos also may have worn feather headdresses attached to simple headbands tied around the head such as are currently worn by many of our Taino brothers and sisters. But we think that there exists plenty of evidence to sustain the opinion that ancient Tainos wore caps and that these caps existed in abundance.

En esta foto el Kasike Roberto Mukaro Borrero del Yukayeke Guainia usa un penacho que consiste de una  banda alrededor de la cabeza decorada de plumas. Miguel ostenta una gorra que cubre la cabeza entera con una frontalera decorativa tambien adornada de plumas

In this photo, Kasike Roberto Mukaro Borrero of Yukayeke Guainia wearing a headdress consisting of a headband adorned with feathers, and Miguel wearing a full skull-cap adorned with decorative head-band and also feathers.

Seneko Kakona

Miguel Sague

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Comment by AkuTurey on June 26, 2014 at 10:25pm

This woven piece most definitely deserves the word you gave it,"awesome"!,and the woven belt is very impressive.

Comment by AkuTurey on June 26, 2014 at 10:20pm

Fabulous info-just like the Arawak today,many wear glass beads and other things that became available to them,if they like it!-just like every other culture of the world.There still remained a range of acceptable dress/decoration,for the sake of cultural unity and identity.

Comment by Dr. Rose M. Xochitl AnaO Quinone on March 20, 2014 at 11:51pm

Takahi, Beike Miguel,

You drew the headress as described by the chronologists. Hahom for the post.

Seneko Kakona. Xochitl AnaO Quinones delValle

Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on March 13, 2014 at 9:57pm

Currently I limit the construction of ceremonial caps for my own personal use. I don't weave my own cloth. I buy cloth that resembles the  weave that ancient Tainos used. However I happen to know an extraordinarily talented weaver in Boriken called Ingrid Laguer who finished a replica of the cotton cemi. This awesome piece looks almost exactly like the original. 

I had the honor of getting to hold this wonderful piece in my hands on my last visit to the island back in August of 2013.


Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on March 13, 2014 at 5:54pm

Our ancestors appear to have perfected some sort of finger weaving technique, although in one source (which unfortunately I don't remember now) I did find a mention of the possibility that a Taino weaver may have used some sort of knitting or crocheting needle to create the cotton cemi. Another extraordinary piece of Taino woven cloth art is a wonderful beaded belt now housed at the Museum für Völkerkunde- Viena in the Austrian city of Vienna. The expert winger weaving and finger-knotting technique that looks very much like macrame is particularly evident in the two round ear-spool objects at the sides of the figure's face and also on the expertly executed hands which are held up in what we believe is the ancient Taino hand gesture for prayer and meditation. Note the carefully crafted little fingers individually shaped and formed over a wooden frame.  

Comment by Kacian on March 13, 2014 at 7:58am

Hello Miguel, I wanted to ask you for a long time. What type of cotton weaving our people did?? Does it have a name?? Also, have you eer tought about creating these cotton caps?? I definitely would want one.


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