Kalinagos Culture and Social Organisation

Categories: Culture

The Kalinago’s Social Organisation was looser than that of the Taino; Kalinago culture emphasized physical prowess and individualism. While settlements had a leader, his authority was limited. War chiefs were chosen from among villagers based on their skill in battle. The kalinago lived separately by gender; the men lived together in a large building called a “carbet”, while women lived in smaller houses.

Division of Labour

Early Kalinago culture was patriarchal. (meaning it was ruled by fathers) The women would make pottery while the men hunted and fished.

They used coiling techniques with rolls of dough. Utility vessels were often decorated these included cassava girdles and bottles where sweet potato and manioc alcohol was stocked. Manioc alcohol was made by Carib women by chewing cassava, spitting it out and letting it ferment. they drank it at feasts and it made them drunk it also excited them to prepare and fight in war. (manioc meant cassava)

However, other ceramics were also made in different forms which were used for ceremonial purposes, they were often decorated with patterns or painted red, white or black.

the women would often shape small animals or human representation called “adornos” on the rims of their pottery. Some figurines are of great authenticity and are easy to identify such as human faces, agoutis, frogs, birds, manatees and dogs.

Others were more complex and mysterious. * Women were also responsible for domestic chores, bringing up children, collecting firewood, weaving, hammock making and cultivating the land for farming including sowing and harvesting, they also cooked and made clothes as well as bartered produce.

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(to barter-a system of exchanging goods and services for other goods and services rather than using money)

  • Caribs/Kalinagos cultivated maize, cassava,tobacco,yam, cotton and sweet potatoes. The women would plant because it was believed that fertility of the woman would transfer to the crop and vice versa. If she was barren, mother earth would transfer some of her fertility to her.
  • Carib women used bark of trees,straw and bamboo strippings to make baskets and mats.
  • Kalinago were able to make cloth and rugs from cotton some of these rugs were dyed from the juices of trees.
  • Men were the warriors, priests, leaders, builders of houses and boats, craftsmen and hunters.

Concepts of Beauty

  • Carib men were often clean shaven, this was because beards were considered a deformity and were plucked out.
  • The Carib women wore bracelets (known as “rassada”) and necklaces made out of amber, shell, agouti teeth, seeds and coral. The men sometimes wore necklces known as “caracoli” and were made of their enemies teeth by wearing this they showed their courage. Their lips were bore and fish bones were placed in them. They also wore small idols around their necks called “maboyas”. On special occasions the men wore feathered head dresses.
  • The women painted their bodies with a dye from the anatto tree known as “roucou”. With this dye they mad fantastic body decorations in various colours. Usually they would circle their eyes with black.
  • Carib men would often paint their body with “roucou” before warfare. They used the dye to camouflage themselves. They also used it as protection against the harmful rays of the sun and insect bites on their long journeys at sea.
  • The Kalinagos also flattened the forehead of their babies. They did so, so that if they were to get hit by an arrow during war it would bounce off. This was also because they believed that it was a sign of “beauty and perfection”. This was also a Taino practice, this may have been practised by
    the Kalinagos because Kalinago men would often take Taino women for wives when raiding Taino villages. This also resulted in men and women speaking different languages.
  • Caribs combed their hair and dressed it with oil, they also had a complete absence of body hair.

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Kalinagos Culture and Social Organisation. (2016, May 06). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/kalinagos-culture-and-social-organisation-essay

Kalinagos Culture and Social Organisation
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