Rockdrawings

Long before the Spanish arrived, Caquetio Indians of the Arawak tribe settled on the Paraguana peninsula in Venezuela. Threatened by the Carib Indians who were extremely ferocious, they came to the Island of Aruba perhaps as long as 4000 years ago. Today, many names of towns and other geographical areas such as Turibana, Guadirikiri, Camacuri, Andicuri and Bushiri, originate from the earliest Indian chiefs and warrior settlers.The caves in Guadirikiri are located inside the Arikok National Wildlife Park, the main cave chamber stretches well over a hundred feet and has vents that allow meager sunlight to spread across cave walls, offering a wide array of ancient cave drawings, believed to have been scratched into the walls by the Arawak people long before Spanish settlers arrived in 1499. The combination of ancient history with the natural wonder of these Aruba caves make Guadirikiri an impressive experience.

The basis for the Arawak religion was a mixture of Zemism and spiritualism with emphasis on nature worship, ancestor worship and protective magic. They believed in a sky-god and an earth-goddess. 

Since both the sky-god and earth-goddess were too far away to affect them, the Arawaks believed that there were many nature gods and ancestral spirits who controlled the wind, rain, sickness, fire, hurricanes, luck, misfortune and fertility, in the case of the earth-goddess. Each of these gods were represented by a zemi, which were idols made from wood, bone, stone or shell in the form of a human or animal. Benevolent spirits were believed to have resided in Zemies. They controlled and influenced daily activities. They favoured crop growing, hunting and fishing. 

       

 

The zemis typically have three points: one pointing to the sky, where Yaya, the Creator, resides; one pointing to the underworld and Hupia, the spirit of the dead; and one pointing to the world of the living and their spirit Goiz. Cotton zemis held the bones of a respected ancestor. The skulls and bones of ancestors could also be neatly packed in a zemi basket and kept in the household. Arawaks believed that trees, rivers and rocks were the homes of evil spirits. They wore amulets to protect themselves, painted their bodies with sacred designs and took specially prepared medicine. In addition, they also believed in spirits called opia, which belonged to the dead, who returned at night to enter their bodies. For this reason they ventured out at night only in groups, and protected themselves by wearing zemis around their necks or on their foreheads. 

These watercolor paintings are a free expression by the artist, to honour and pay respect to these ancient inhabitants of Aruba, based on the rock drawings found at the caves.