“A true Amerindian bestiary. Illustrates the profound relationship between the Antillean zoomorphic iconology and the ideas, mythic traditions, and ideology behind them.”–Arie Boomert, coauthor of The 1946 and 1953 Yale University Excavations in Trinidad: Vol. #92
The importance of animals as surrogates and signifiers in pre-Columbian art places them at the foundation of symbolic language and visual culture throughout much of the ancient Americas. However, with no comprehensive iconographic study of the ceramics of the Lesser Antilles, it has fallen to archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, linguists, and art historians to independently decipher the many species and symbols.
In Handbook of Ceramic Animal Symbols in the Ancient Lesser Antilles, Lawrence Waldron focuses on the
cultural significance of nearly two dozen animal and bird representations found in Saladoid-era ceramics, surveying zoomorphic iconography in over twenty major collections. He integrates ethnozoology and ethology with traditional narratives and demonstrates that different animal representations dominated on particular islands. Waldron shows how regional disparities may have been politically savvy expressions of cultural distinctions among emergent Caribbean subgroups.
The result is a multidisciplinary reference text that will be invaluable to scholars and students seeking an interpretation of visual culture in the archaeological record.
Lawrence Waldron is instructor of art history and studio art at the City University of New York.