The town of Jayuya seems to be loaded with the traces of the ancient Taíno Indian culture. It could be because the Taínos, and other indigenous cultures in Puerto Rico, appeared to have a preference of living and/or gathering together for ceremonies in the mountains in the central part of the island. The Cemí Museum (Museo El Cemí, in Spanish) in Jayuya is a visitor center for the area and a showcase of Taíno artifacts. Archaeological digs and large rocks with shapes carved into them (petroglyphs) prove that pre-Columbian cultures lived in this area. The leaders of Jayuya wanted to preserve and educate about the Taíno culture, so they opened this odd-shaped museum in 1989.
What is a Cemí? According to Taíno tradition, a cemí is a god, spirit or ancestor. It is also the name given to the religious symbol that is the physical representation of a god. The most common shape for cemís in Puerto Rico is a form with three “points” carved in stone or wood. These idols have carved representations of both humans and animals.
The scholars who study this culture are not sure if the shape of the cemi was meant to mimic the shape of the nearby mountain range (Tres Picachos), but is sure looks similar.
Address: RoutePR-144, Jayuya
Telephone: 787-828-4618 / 787-828-1241
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