Taino Figurative Pestle
I inherited it from my grandfather. He received it from a university professor in the Dominican Republic.
Okay, was he a friend of the family?
He became a friend of my grandfather when he was an engineer laying out a railroad for a timber concession in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The individual who gave it to him was so enthralled with the work-- the trip he took into the mountains-- he decided that it was an appropriate gift for him, given his adventures there.
It's from the Dominican Republic, and it's from a culture called Taino. And the Taino culture was all over the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic. They were a very cohesive group there. And they were the first people that Christopher Columbus came across when he first came to the Americas in 1492. It's made out of basalt, it's a volcanic stone, very hard stone indeed. And it's a pestle used for grinding. Normally, these pestles are quite simple. Sometimes they might have a small head on the top. But this one is really interesting and rather attractive. It's got this human figure on the top, and you'll see that it's very articulated and really nice, which probably means it wasn't just a normal pounder. It probably had shamanistic overtones. There was another culture on the outlying islands called the Caribs, and they were constantly encroaching on the Taino with the help of disease from the Europeans that came there. That probably contributed to their demise. It's difficult to say exactly when the piece was made, but a wonderful sculpture. I think conservatively, a retail price would be between $4,000 and $6,000.
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