2 Journey's End

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Move your mouse over the image and pause on things to see information 'pop ups' (blue shapes). Click for more when the hand icon appears (red shapes). This illustration has 12 red shapes and 5 blue shapes - can you find them all? The answers can be found here - don't cheat!

Stone pendants
Stone celts
Cuban macaw feathers
Ceramic Vessels
Cuban Parrot
Ceramic Vessels
Body Painting
Hafted axe

Journey's End

The lead canoeist signals to the gathering crowd on the beach upon his group’s return from a successful trading voyage to Hispaniola (Dominican Republic/Haiti). Behind him, the canoe is laden with goods and the paddlers covered with ceremonial body paint to honour a safe return. All are relieved to return home after the long voyage, which has taken several days of hard paddling. The cargo will be valuable stock (hutias, parrot, maize, cassava) and trade goods (ceramics, stone celts and ornaments, macaw feathers) for the next year.

Trade: food, goods

When Columbus first arrived in the Lucayan archipelago in 1492, he noted that the Lucayans were very eager to trade with the Spanish, offering javelins (possibly fish spears), parrots and cotton (and, likely, cotton goods) in trade. Salt may have been a commodity, and shell beads – which were produced in bulk at some sites – were also exported. These were some of the items they likely traded south, to their neighbours in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic/Haiti) and Cuba. In exchange they received stone artefacts – likely finished celts and ornaments – that could not be made in the region because there was no suitable hard stone on the limestone islands of The Bahamas and TCI. They also acquired ceramics quite different in style to the locally produced Palmetto ware (see “Palmetto Potters”); these can be identified by their different clay tempers, different shapes and designs, with the handles often modelled in the shape of animal and human heads (these handles are called adornos).

Dress: a note on body painting

All the canoeists – both men and women – feature full body painting in combinations of red and black. The red pigment is derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana); the black designs are painted with seeds of the genip tree (Genipa americana). This was another way of dressing the body for a variety of reasons – from special occasions such as feasts and ceremonies, to every day ornament. 

The early Spanish accounts mention that the people would be painted in a wide variety of ways – likely entirely down to the preference of the individual, or the skills of the artists who painted them (in contemporary South American indigenous cultures, it is usually the women who paint their husbands and children). Columbus, for example, noted that on Hispaniola, a man “…had his face all stained with charcoal, although everywhere they are accustomed to staining themselves in different colours”. 

Body painting was not simply for aesthetics: it offered protection from the sun and mosquitos. In this scene, the full body paint not only protects the canoeists from the scorching sun, but it is an expression that celebrates the successful completion of the long journey. Even the dog is painted for the arrival home!


Unit 2a: Journey's End, all (JPG, 0.9 MB)

Unit 2d: Journey's End, close canoes 1 ​​​​​​​(JPG, 0.9 MB)

Unit 2e: Journey's End, close canoes 2 ​​​​​​​(JPG, 0.8 MB)

Unit 2j: Journey's End, trade goods 1 ​​​​​​​(JPG, 1.4 MB)

Unit 2k: Journey's End, trade goods 2 ​​​​​​​(JPG, 0.7 MB)