The Taino myth of the cursed creator – Bill Keegan

Before the world of humans began, there was the world of the gods,
made of fields, plains and gardens. Four brothers wandered this
celestial realm. They had no family other
than each other— they didn’t even know who
their parents were. One of the brothers, Deminan,
looked different from the others. His skin was covered in painful scabs, and he wondered why he alone had
been marked with this affliction. One day, while the supreme spirit
Yaya was out in his gardens, Deminan and his brothers snuck
into Yaya’s house. After feasting and exploring, they spotted
a giant gourd hanging in the corner. But as they tried to look inside
the gourd, they dropped it. The gourd broke apart, releasing a deluge
that swept the brothers away, separating them from the
celestial lands forever. The waters from the gourd
formed a new world. This realm was covered in seas,
which didn’t exist in the gods’ world. The waters were full of fish
and other creatures, and dotted with islands and caves. This world of seas was also cut off
completely from the celestial realm, and the brothers wandered aimlessly, even more lost than they had been before. One day, three of the brothers
stumbled upon a house. In the house lived an elder named
Bayamanacao, and he invited them in. When Deminan caught up slightly later,
he followed them into the house. Bayamanacao told the brothers
he was their grandfather and gave them a gift of special
cassava bread. He revealed their family lineage to them: their mother had been the Earth Mother
Goddess Itibi Cahubaba and had died when they were born. The brothers were grateful for his
hospitality and insight into their past. But then Bayamanacao turned on Deminan, blowing tobacco spittle from his nose
onto Deminan’s back. The spot where the spittle landed
immediately began to swell and sting. Soon Deminan was delirious and his back was so swollen his
brothers feared he would die. Not knowing what else to do,
they cut open the welt. A turtle emerged from the
wound and swam away, alternating easily between sea
and land as she went. When Deminan recovered from his delirium, he finally understood what the
curse of his disease meant: he was a caracaracol,
able to communicate with the gods. He was the link between the celestial
realm and the earthly realm. Deminan was the first in a long
lineage of caracaracols. The world of seas he and his brothers
had created when they dropped the gourd became the world of humans, where the caracaracols who followed
Deminan maintained the delicate balance between people and gods. But their unique power came at a price: Deminan and all the caracaracols
who followed him continued to suffer from the illness that
had first marked Deminan as special. Represented in Taino carvings
and figurines with a swollen back and emaciated arms, the caracaracol is both cursed and blessed
to be a conduit between worlds.

53 thoughts on “The Taino myth of the cursed creator – Bill Keegan

  1. I love that TED Ed is sharing more content about the mythology of the native peoples across the Americas. Its not really heard a lot formally.

  2. Can't wait to see the comment section explode and youtube servers grind to a halt when you talk about the myth of Jesus Christ.


  4. It’s always a pleasure to learn more about the pre “Spanish or vanish” times. So much Taino culture has been destroyed and lost

  5. They got expelled from "heaven" because of curiosity funny how its the same story as other religions

  6. YaYa = Yahawah- Name of God in ancient Hebrew. The Tainos were the Hebrew Israelites of the Bible


  8. This myth is very familiar with Hinduism and Buddhism cosmology!
    In this cosmology they said our universe, human realm, have divided into 4 continents and all of this is flowed over the ocean.
    They also tell us about how our universe forming.
    This sound like this myth very much! they are 4 brothers(4 continents?)
    They are once together in god's hut and then they break god's gourd, it fell and splashed all of them and flooded with massive wave of water (this part can referred to big bang?)
    They can't go back to god's hut or celestial realm anymore (they left from higher realm to this human realm and they can't go back?)
    Their mother, earth mother, died from the moment that they are born (so now this 4 brothers is 4 earth deities or 4 parts of the earth mother – Is this big bang?)
    This myth said that Derminian, the first son, have scars and wounds(imperfect and impurity?) maybe he is personification of Jambudvīpa?, our earth, the blessed and cursed. People of this earth have special ability to connect with celestial realm(connect with nirvana or upper realm?) but also suffer from illness(suffer from uncertainty?)
    From all of this, it seems familiar in my opinion. How this myth from other side of the world make their myths or legends very related!
    This is the story that never untold? Is there something that wait us to discover?? Somehow some parts of legend is very similar with scientific discovery in some perspective…
    (sorry for grammar and my delusional opinions, lol)

  9. Thanks for sharing something about our ancestors in Puerto Rico (Borinquen in Taino) and the rest of the Caribbean.

  10. The Taino were the indigenous people of Jamaica (and Cuba, PR, Hispaniola) before Columbus and the Spaniards enacted their genocide. My family has some Taino blood as we are descended from the Maroons, a group consisting of runaway slaves and Tainos that found refuge in the mountains. In school I only really learned about the Tainos’ basic way of life. I wish I would’ve been able to learn more about Taino myths and religion than I did, but of course a lot of that information was erased by the colonizing Spanish. So I appreciate Ted Ed covering folklore from such an important group of people to the heritage of many people across the Caribbean!

  11. There is a group of Taíno people called Higuayagua, based in New York city. Also check out the United Confederation of Taíno Peoples. They're currently revitalizing the Taíno language and traditions. They still have chiefs or Kasike in their mother tongue. Their home island is Ayiti or Kiskeya, which is now colonized as Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic). Ayiti was also home to 5 chiefdoms or Kasikes in their time.

  12. This story have little resemblance with Islam mythology of earth creation. Pretty interesting.?

  13. i dont understand, so what did that guy actually suffer from? leprosy? or was he a hunchback? or what? I mean it must be a real disease if they decided who got to be these holy conduits depending on who had the sickness

  14. Yaya- mom I hate you
    Mom- no wonder
    Mom must have been so creative if she actually named him Yaya

  15. I recommend the next episode to tell the myth of Prambanan temple in Indonesia, that would be an interesting story!

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