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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-18-10 04:13 AM
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White explorers couldn't recognise a smile on native symbols
Edited on Tue May-18-10 04:19 AM by Judi Lynn
White explorers couldn't recognise a smile on native symbols
The threatening "devil grimace" symbols that European explorers discovered upon first setting foot in the Caribbean 500 years ago were actually depicting smiles, researchers claim.

By Nick Collins
Published: 7:30AM BST 18 May 2010

The icons of skeletal heads with bared teeth, found carved into wooden seats and shells worn by natives as jewellery, were widely interpreted by early European colonisers to be hostile, anti-Christian and frightening.

But an analysis of human and primate behaviour indicates that the motifs were more likely symbols of non-aggression and good will, similar to a smile.

Dr Bridget Waller, co-author of the report, said the misunderstanding of the motif by Europeans could have affected the way they treated the indigenous people on the islands.

She said: "It could have had an impact on how they were interpreting the intentions of those people. If they had understood it better then maybe they would have had more positive interactions."

When first encountered by European explorers, the bared teeth motif was characterised variously as a death mask, an image of a skull, and as the face of a shaman in trance.

Fernndez de Oviedo y Valdez, who travelled to the Caribbean in the early sixteenth century, wrote that the grinning idols represented an "abominable figure...deformed and frightening with ferocious fangs and teeth and disproportionate ears and burning eyes of a dragon."

More:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/7732776/White-explor...

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