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Costly Giving, Giving Guaizas

Costly Giving, Giving Guaizas

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Published by Sidestone Press
Costly Giving, Giving Guaízas deals with the exchange of social valuables in the later part of the Late Ceramic Age of the Greater and Lesser Antilles (AD 1000/1100-1492). Questions concerning this exchange will be framed in a novel mix of theories - such as Costly Signalling Theory coupled with the paradox of keeping-while-giving and the notion of gene/culture co-evolution joined with Complex Adaptive System theory.
Costly Giving, Giving Guaízas deals with the exchange of social valuables in the later part of the Late Ceramic Age of the Greater and Lesser Antilles (AD 1000/1100-1492). Questions concerning this exchange will be framed in a novel mix of theories - such as Costly Signalling Theory coupled with the paradox of keeping-while-giving and the notion of gene/culture co-evolution joined with Complex Adaptive System theory.

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Published by: Sidestone Press on Aug 24, 2011
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05/26/2015

Shamanic paraphernalia occur everywhere shamanism occurs. Still, the set of
tools at the disposal of the behique is quite unique in form and iconography.
From private collections and museums we know of some conspicuous
examples of the tools used to inhale the snuff during cohoba ceremonies.
Because they are quite large artefacts that are constructed out of one piece,
they were often made out of manatee bone. The manatee (Trichechus manatus) is
an animal that must have been one of the more difficult animals to hunt and
together with the subsequent elaborate craftsmanship these artefacts must have
emanated a very powerful signal indeed (e.g. Figure 5d). The plateau from
which the drug was snorted could have been any clean flat surface, but special
standards, consisting of a range of materials, were also employed to inhale the
drugs from.

Vomiting spatulas, made of manatee bone or shell or wood, are other
objects that could have been costly signals to commission. Objects like these
with clear Taíno iconography have been found as far as Guadeloupe and

Chapter 5: The Caribbean Social Universe

66

Dominica in the Lesser Antilles (Hofman, personal communication 2006).37
Still, it is not known from ethnohistoric sources that these objects themselves
were exchanged. It could be that the Spaniards were not interested in them, or
that they represented items that were not open for exchange. Nevertheless, the
meaning of these objects and other shamanic paraphernalia must have been
widespread.

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