A duho is a ceremonial stool made by the Taino people of the Bahamas and Antilles.
It is about all that remains of their material culture, although we hear echoes of their voices whenever we use their words ‘barbecue’, ‘hammock’, ‘canoe’ and ‘hurricane’.
Christopher Columbus, on first meeting them in October 1492 said of them:
They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will..they took great delight in pleasing us..They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal..Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ..They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing
Noting that they had no metal weapons, Columbus also remarked “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.” Which is exactly what he did on his second expedition in 1493. The independent eyewitness Bartolomé de las Casas tells of how the Spaniards
made bets as to who would slit a man in two, or cut off his head at one blow; or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mothers breast by their feet, and dashed their heads against the rocks…they spitted the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers and all who were before them, on their swords….and by thirteens, in honor and reverence for our Redeemer and the twelve Apostles, they put wood underneath and, with fire, they burned the Indians alive.
It took only a few years to completely exterminate the Taino.
Now here’s a stool with no one to sit on it.
But of course we should keep it because it has helped us to prevent that kind of callous and deliberate extinction from ever happening again, hasn’t it?