Purchase, Mary R. Morgan, Mary O'Boyle II and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick E. Landmann Gifts; The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller and Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, by exchange, and Gift of Nathan Cummings, by exchange, 1982
Not on view
The image of a kneeling or crouching figure is a pervasive one in Taino art. Even in sculptures that are almost flat, such as this wide-mouthed, greenstone figure, legs are depicted bent at the knee with feet flattened at the ankle. Incised lines indicate toes. The legs and feet are rendered frontally, creating a distinctive, angled pattern of the lower half of the figure. This position, and its stylized depiction in both two and three dimensions, must have indicated special status to the Taino, a people who were flourishing at the time the Europeans arrived in the Caribbean at the end of the fifteenth century. The figure is from the island of Hispaniola (now divided into the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), where several large, well-to-do chiefdoms, or cacicazgos—associated communities grouped under one leader—existed in 1492.