This is a carving of an Taino shaman figurine. The Taino are the indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late 15th century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico.
Shamans and spirituality were central to the Taino culture, and these figurines are representative of that culture. This shows a typical 'holy man', or shaman, in a squatting position, with the hollow portions showing the stylized depiction of emanciation due to starving oneself for religous enlightenment.
This is carved out of Guayacan (Ironwood) wood, the hardest wood in the world, and will easily sink in water. One of the most popular souvenirs from the D.R are figures made from Guayacan wood.
This was hand made and purchased from a local craftsman in the early 2000's during an archaeological expedition near Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
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