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Duho style seat (high-back)

National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago

low angled wooden bench, top, bottom and side views

Three views of the Pitch Lake duho (ceremonial seat). Length 76cm, width 28cm, height 17.5cm (when in correct alignment). Courtesy of National Museum and Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago.

A carving very reminiscent of the high backed duhos (ceremonial seats) of the Taíno people of the Greater Antilles (for a fine example, see the Quai Branly duho) was recovered from Pitch Lake, and entered the collections of what is now the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1930s.

It is roughly finished and is missing a front leg, making it imbalanced to the degree that it rests on its ‘back’ – suggesting that it may have been placed in the lake as an unfinished carving. Despite this, it has the distinctive shape of the seats most commonly encountered in the Greater Antilles and Bahamas, where surviving examples start appearing after AD 600.

Trinidad has therefore yielded the two classic styles of ceremonial seat – both low back (Peabody Museum of Natural History zoomorphic bench) and the high back – that span the South American mainland to the Antillean archipelago.  

Updates on the radiocarbon, wood identification and strontium results for the duho will be added here soon.

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