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How “Macu” Got its Name

Posted on April 26 2020

How “Macu” Got its Name

 

The Legend of Macocael

Our sparkly Caribbean evil eye borrows its name from a loose tale that has been passed on from generation to generation. Like many Taíno legends, it was not documented as well as other stories since the Taíno did not have a written language – most of what we know is taken from the diaries and accounts of Spanish settlers and historians.

Some legends, however, have been passed on verbally and the legend of Macocael gives us a glimpse into Taíno culture and beliefs.

Macocael was a guard—but not just any guard. As his name suggests in taíno language, Macocael was “He with No Eye Lids”, the sleepless– and that is why he was called upon to guard the most sacred of their caves.

Caves were in a way, the heart of the Taíno – a fertile “womb” from which everything grew, from which everything was born— even the sun and the moon. This particular cave was the central cave of creation, from where the first Taíno man and woman would emerge. They needed protection from the all-powerful sun, which as Taíno legend dictated, could turn them and everything else to stone with one single flick of its golden beams.

And so, the Taíno chiefs bestowed on Macocael the responsibility of guarding this cave of creation and distributing the Taíno into the safe regions of the new world.

Of course, this would not be a legend, if the protagonist of the story did not fulfill an ominous cautionary tale.

One day, Macocael became distracted and returned to his post late. He rushed to every entrance of the cave, but all had been locked down. And so, the Sun turned him to stone. He remained outside the cave for so long it is said his very stones are what gave birth to the mineral world.

Today, you can still see Macocael petrified in the walls of caves in the Caribbean, mostly in the Dominican Republic. His eyes wide open. A powerful, relentless vigilante. A still reminder of the greatness of our formidable sun. Watching over the cave and its surrounding flora, fauna and people.

Today, in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, you will sometimes hear people refer to the large eyes of friends as “macos,”  in honor of Macocael (whether they know it or not).

Fun in the Sun

There are many versions of this story – others tell a different, lighter tale of Macocael guarding the cave and going to play with the sun while the sun created a stone version of Macocael outside the cave to protect it.

To view our Macu collection click here.

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