added by archaeologs Religious spirits which were represented by idols of wood, stones, shell, and bones in the West Indies. Zemis are human or animal in form. Ceremonial centers, ball-courts, and caves are associated with the cult, which may have reached the islands from Mesoamerica. The Taino culture is famous for these zemi carvings, which are found in many of the islands, notably Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. A distinctive trait of the Antillean Arawaks was the triangular carved stone zemi that represented the hierarchically ranked individual guardian deities of each household in the society.
added by archaeologs A deity central to the religion of Arawakan groups in northeastern South America and the Caribbean (e.g. Taino). Represented in both human and animal form, zemis were commonly portrayed on household utensils as well as in loci of worship such as caves or possibly temples built from organic materials. Origins are uncertain but since they are sometimes found in contexts connecting them to the ball game, a Mesoamerican derivation is often postulated. However, some types of zemi, such as the trianguloid form ‘three pointers’, appear to be of local origin and have no Mesoamerican cognates.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983