“An important contribution to our understanding of how art was integrated into the fabric of culture, society, and daily life in the precolonial Caribbean. Waldron brings an art historical perspective to the full range of material culture output that most archaeologists consider part of the ritual or ceremonial sphere of pre-Columbian and contact-era cultures.”—Peter E. Siegel, coeditor of Protecting Heritage in the Caribbean
Abundantly illustrated, Pre-Columbian Art of the Caribbean is a pioneering survey of the ancient art of the entire Caribbean region. While previous studies have focused on the Greater Antilles—Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica—this is the first book also to include the islands of the eastern Caribbean and their ties to pre-Columbian Venezuela.
Unlike prior art historical research that overwhelmingly emphasized the colonial period onward, this ambitious overview traces 4,000 years of the region’s early Indigenous heritage before the Spanish conquest.
Lawrence Waldron examines ceramics, ritual spaces, sculpture, and personal adornment from the ancient Saladoid era to the later, better-known Taíno period. Analyzing the symbolism, aesthetics, and cultural contexts of objects including ceremonial pots, rock art, stone effigy belts, and jewelry, he illuminates continuities and innovations in imagery and ideology across time and space. He draws attention to the legacies of Amerindian visual and material culture in the architecture and furniture of the present-day Caribbean, arguing that the region’s ancient art history is rich and worthy of attention.
Lawrence Waldron, assistant professor of art history at Queens College of the City University of New York, is the author of Handbook of Ceramic Animal Symbols in the Ancient Lesser Antilles.