Volume 4, Number 1 (2014)
Links between Shamanism and Saladoid/Barrancoid Effigy Vessels: Case Study of Blanchisseuse and Golden Grove in Trinidad and Tobago
The element that ties Saladoid/Barrancoid adornos and pottery designs to cosmology and mythology is shamanism. Shamanism can be "defined as a religious system in which individuals act as religious intermediaries between humans and spirits" (VanPool 2009, 180). Otherwise put, the shaman was the central practitioner in the cosmographic landscape, and was the one who mediated "at the celestial nave or axis mundi with hidden spirit worlds on behalf of his community" (Stahl 1986, 134). The symbolism of the adornos represents the shaman's "interpretive power, gained from unrestricted movement throughout the cosmos" (Stahl 1986, 134). All the objects used within shamanistic rituals had spiritual and cosmological significance. In this paper, I will examine the functions of shamanic paraphernalia from the Blanchisseuse and Golden Grove archaeological sites in Trinidad and Tobago.