CROUCHING FIGURE – ZEMI

TAÏNO – Dominican Republic

1000 – 1500 A.D.

Height : 17 cm – Length : 13.7 cm – Width : 9.5 cm

Magmatic or metamorphic rock consisting of pyroxene and white mica

Provenance

Former collection Huguet since 1968

Galerie Mermoz Collection since 2009

 

Anthropomorphic scultpure depicting a crouching figure, with the features of the divinity Zémi.

The character is in the fetal position, with both legs bent at chest height in balance on his feet lying flat. The toes are striated. The buttocks back are curved. The arms encircle the knees. The fingers of the hands are underlined by grooves resembling claws. The wrists are marked by two deep striations. The curved and concave shoulders are decorated with grooves.

The square face sinks into the shoulder blades, the wide mouth is wide open with the lower lip which merges with a chin in galoche. The round eyes are hollowed out. The nose is pointed. The prominent forehead draws a triangular edge with the superciliary arches. The top of the skull decorated with a band with engraved geometric motifs is in the extension of the ears that delimit the shape of the face.  The prominent dorsal spine springs from the back forming the deeply engraved perspective ribs. The upper part is covered with tattoos with magical connotations resembling the face of an animal.

The god Zémi is the main deity in Taino mythology, with various benefactor powers. Intimately linked to the principles of creation, such as nutrition and reproduction, they were used by shamans during rituals of fertility or control of natural elements (water, wind, earth), but also during births.