Shelter is a basic human necessity.
Since the dawn of time, man has sought refuge in some type of dwelling or a place of sanctuary where he could rest at night. Whether it be a cave or a dense covering of trees, humans have always commissioned materials at hand to create homes for themselves.
The Taino people – the Lucayans – who first inhabited the Turks and Caicos Islands were no different. Despite their rudimentary tools and limited resources, these early islanders constructed comfortable homes that met their daily needs.
The homes of the Lucayans, or bohios, were large multi-family huts that might have sheltered as many as one hundred people.
Materials would be carefully selected from the surrounding wilderness, returned to the village, then prepared as required and assembled. Because they needed little insulation, the circular bohios were constructed simply. Tree trunks would have served as a framework to be covered with straw or palm fronds. Mud or rubble may have been fashioned as a type of plaster for added durability. A thatched roof would have kept the occupants dry from the sparse but sometimes torrential Caribbean rain.
Although a bohio was minimally furnished, the Lucayans provisioned for their every need. Woven hammocks would have been suspended from the frame for sleeping. Wooden couches and chairs with woven seats were fashioned and cradles were assembled for small children. Household belongings were stored in the rafters or on the floors of the home.
For additional comfort and to thwart insect pests, the Lucayans may have kept small, smoky fires burning inside the bohios.
Despite their seemingly fragile fabrication, modern anthropologists believe the Taino homes were strong enough to endure hurricanes, most certainly evidence that even primitive peoples recognized the significance of building sturdy homes. Even without the benefit of written records, a simple study of their homes tells us this and so much more about these people.
Our homes can tell a story as well. Beyond providing us with basic shelter, home is also the place where our personal histories are written – the place where we dream, love and plan for our futures.