This zemi was found at the site Spring Bay, Saba. Spring Bay could have been, because of its close location, an agricultural field where the Indigenous people used to grow manioc or any other crops. This could explain why the zemi was actually found here; zemies actually used to ritually be buried beneath the ground were people wanted to grow crops to invoke Yucahu to make the ground more fertile.
So one day a farmer decides he wants to plant some cassava to feed his family with. He already knows which zemi he wants to use to get in touch with the Spirit of the Manioc, so first he goes looking for a suitable material for a three-pointed zemi. He could have easily found a piece of coral on the beach or when he was fishing on sea that could have been used for making his idol. After finding a suitable piece and the necessary carving/coral-knapping the zemi would have been finished and be ready for its ritual burial and the fertilization of the land.
Although this is just a very speculative theory, it would explain why it was discovered beneath the earth at that specific location instead of in a grave like the zemies found at Kelbey’s Ridge.
To read more about zemies, click here.
Text by Jasper Meijer, based on original published research (see further reading).
Photo: Hofman & Hoogland 2016.
Hofman, C.L. & Hoogland, M.L.P. & Van der Klift, H.M., 1987. An Archaeological Investigation of Spring Bay, Saba. Fieldwork Report 1987. Koninklijk Instituut voor taal-, land- en volkenkunde, Leiden.
Hofman, C.L. & Hoogland, M.L.P., 2016. Saba’s first inhabitants; A story of 3300 years of Amerindian occupation prior to European contact (1800 BC- AD 1492). Sidestone Press, Leiden.