Indian Ceremonial Park

By: Nelsonrafael Collazo

The Indian Ceremonial Center of Tibes, located in the city of Ponce was discovered in 1975. The first inhabitants of the area were presumably the Igneris Indians who came from South America. They must have settled here at about the beginning of the Christian era, near the third century. Slowly, the Taíno Indians occupied and shared the places acquired by the Igneris.

The Taínos, at approximately 800 years before the Discovery of Puerto Rico, had constructed the "bateyes" or Ceremonial Parks, that we have today at the Tibes Ceremonial Park. Here they used to celebrate their "Areytos" or traditional festivities, their sports and other important events. Maybe in the past, they utilized the place as a cemetery or burial place.

There is evidence that they constructed structures (bohíos) in the Ceremonial Center although their living quarters were not built there.

At the Museum in the Ceremonial Park of Tibes, we may see burials, charms, idols, vessels, petroglyphs and other artifacts used by the Taíno and Igneris Indians who lived here. The place is a sanctuary of prehistoric trees such as "higüero, hacar, guanábana, corazón" among others. There are varieties of birds such as "martinete (hammer), ruiseñor (nightingale), pitirre, múcaro (owl), zorzal y carpintero (woodpecker), which existed at the times of our Indians. There is also yucca, tobacco, corn, "lerenes" and other indigenous plantations in the area.

In this publication we offer beautiful illustrations by two well known Puerto Rican artists: Elpidio Collazo and Angel Jiménez Alfínez. These illustrations will give the reader a clear idea of the people who lived in the Tibes' Valley in Ponce. The reader will see the clay vessels made by the Indians, places for sports and ceremonies, their homes, celebrations, religious customs, trades, transportation means, arms, domestic utensils, musical instruments, religious or magic representations, trees, fruits and animals.

This educational, easy to read book, is intended for the enjoyment of adults as well as children.