Taino Symbols *
This sun symbol is one of my favorite Taino petroglyphs. El sol has always been important to me. My parents gleefully told embarrassing stories of me as an screaming infant—unwilling to stay in a darkened room; I suppose many children are afraid of the dark. As an adult, the dark holds no fears for me, I don’t think, but I do thrive in sunlight.
Another Taino favorite is the symbol for Coquí. The Coquí is a tiny tree frog whose loud, high-pitched cry, “¡Coquí!” fills the countryside at night. These tiny frogs are a beloved symbol of the island; you see their image everywhere and there is even a town named Coquí where my aunt lives in a house built by my maternal grandfather.
The Coquí’s cry or song— it all depends on your perspective, is loud, and when thousands sing at the same time it has been described as deafening; yet, “coquí” always lulled me to sleep when visiting the interior of Puerto Rico. During my last visit I stayed in the San Juan metro area where there are fewer Coquí. Oh, how I missed hearing their song at night!
Legend says the Coquí is unable to live outside of Puerto Rico, but Hawaiians have discovered to their dismay the belief is false; somehow the Coquí have migrated. Hawaiians hate its raucous cry and they have tried to exterminate the Coquí from their islands—to no avail. Yes, we Puero Ricans are stubborn survivors.
I have a little gold charm of a Coquí; it is not bigger than the tip of my pinky and it is life size.
Coquí sitting on a leaf. This is a pretty orange-red one.
This one is regal in shades of greenish gold.
* Addendum: In the two years since posting this article, I have learned much about the Taino, the people who greeted Columbus. A quick search of this blog will yield information on their language, writing, symbols, photographs, music, art, dance and culture. In addition, there are videos of present day Tainos performing dance, playing music and recreating some of the ceremonies of their ancestors. Lastly, there is information and photographs of the island they call home, Borikén. Please, look around.