Indigenous Caribbean Network


During the annual Summer Solstice ceremony of the Taino tribal CANEY INDIGENOUS SPIRITUAL CIRCLE, the behike (spiritual guide) leads a special dance as part of the ceremony. This dance is called the "Shark Dance". In this dance the behike wields a hand-held ceremonial hatchet called a "manaya". The behike also wields an effigy of a shark crafted from vegetable material. The shark is the totem animal of the Taino spirit of challenge called Guakar. During the dance the behike represents Guakar himself and challenges a man previously selected from the celebrants of the ceremony to represent YokaHu, the Taino spirit of Life and Energy. The two dancers square off in mock conflict until at last the behike sets down the shark effigy and then the man representing YokaHu approaches the effigy and shoots it with a bow and arrow. This final act of the dance represents the victory of humanity over the challenges of life.

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