The Mute Hunting Dogs of the Tainos

While I was in Santo Domingo last week (though spring break feels an eon ago), I went to the Museum of the Dominican Man, and took these pictures of the little model Taino villages. (TheTainos are the indigenous people of Hispaniola who were nearly decimated by the work of Columbus and his crew.)

The dog figures were probably representing the Tainos’ mute hunting dogs, the now-extinct Alcos, used to hunt hutias—the Alco’s inability to bark being an obvious advantage. According to the Wikipedia page on Tainos, they also ate (other?) dogs.   

This interesting page records some traces of the Tainos’ reverence for dogs, including in the form of a half-man, half-dog spirit, Opiyel Guoriban

It’s not about the nineteenth century, I know. But who could resist? 

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