The Caribbean Islands show a mixture of arts and crafts that pertains to various ethnic cultures. These cultures include Puerto Rican, African, Indians, and American. The Puerto Rican people are proud of their island and their roots. Perhaps the most well-known art of Puerto Ricans or Latinos’ is the carved wooden santos. Santos means the saints. The Spaniards brought this to the island and it has been made in this culture for some 300 years, and handed down from generation to generation. The santos might be the village or family patron saint or the one that brought special healing powers to the family. The santos were originally colored using natural pigments. But by the nineteenth century, santos were painted in many vibrant colors and wood or metal were sometimes included. Many of these santos or sculptures are recognized for their unique beauty, and most of them are in museum collections.
The African heritage in the Caribbean Islands is perhaps most clear in its many contributions to the music of the island. This contribution is made mostly during the annual Fiesta de Santiago Apostle (Festival of St. James the Apostle) that is held in the villages. The villages where these festivals are held are predominantly African descent. The festival is famous for its feathers and horned mask, that are carved from coconuts and made only in this area. Singing of ballads and dancing the African bomba, the people of the village are trying to convey and depict the history of their people. This history represents many aspects of the Indian, African, and Spanish heritage of Puerto Rico.
There are many different arts that exist from many cultures in the Caribbean. An example of one art that is popular in the Caribbean is the seed necklace. The necklaces are made from native seeds and beans. They have shiny, pearly gray seeds with a natural hole just right for stringing that are found along the river in the marshy ground. The most common seeds that are used in making necklaces are the camandulas and the zarcilla. The camandulas and zarcilla seeds are small, brown, striped oval seeds from the ear pod tree.
The necklaces that are made speak about the land in which they come that most tourist do not see.
Another art that is very common in the Caribbean Islands is the making of Island Maracas. The maracas are made from hollow bottle gourd that has lines incised on it. When the lines of a metal fork are scraped over the ridges, it makes a rasping sound. Maracas are used by the Indians throughout the islands and in Mexico. They are made of hollow gourds or the large, hard shelled fruit of the calabas tree. Small seeds are put in the gourds and a handle is attached. Sometimes island scenes are painted on the maracas, and sometimes designs are carved into the surface while it is still green. Maracas are usually used in pairs and are shaken to the rhythm of a dance or song.
Each island has its own particular heritage that is a result of different styles and culture. Whether it is Latino, Puerto Rican, African, Indian or American, we all are tied together through our own individual cultures.