The funerary gourd and bowl of the Tainos

burial gourd

long bonesFragments of long bones were often encased in balls of of clay before being placed in these large gourds. There is evidence of some amount of cremation in ancient Taino tradition and in those cases the remains of the long bones that were not entirely consumed by the flames were encased in clay as mentioned above and placed in the hanging gourd.

taino skull in bowl burialThey used a clay bowl, such as the one pictured here from an actual Taino burial to cover the skull of the deceased when this was buried, oftentimes under the floor of the house.

The skull is perceived as housing the element of the soul known as the “guis” (or goeiz). This spiritual essence is the part of the soul that allows the person to think, to reason, to understand, to sense and feel.