Snuff Inhaler

The artifact was found in a Taino settlement during the 1988-1992 Kelbey’s Ridge excavations undertaken by Leiden University, Holland. The small, carved object is a type of pipe, used to inhale hallucinogenic snuff. It is carved from a manatee bone in the shape of a fish with its mouth half-open. Inside the fish body, the mouth opening splits into a Y-junction, exiting behind each gill. Early Spanish documents attest to the use of a hallucinogenic snuff in the spiritual ceremonies of the Amerindians. The snuff was prepared from the seeds of the spineless cohoba shrub, Anadenanthera peregrina. This native plant is covered with yellow balls of flowers when it blooms in April. The psychoactive drug was ground into a powder, and sometimes enhanced with ground conch shell or tobacco.