The Tainos were known for their fine wood carving and hammocks woven from cotton. Not a particularly warlike people, they played ceremonial ball games, possibly as a substitute for warfare and as an outlet for competition between villages and chiefdoms.
The other major group living in the Caribbean were the more mobile and aggressive Caribs, who took to the sea in huge dugout canoes. By the late 15th century, the Caribs had expanded into the smaller islands of the eastern Caribbean from the mainland, displacing or intermingling with the Tainos.
In Oviedo, 1535
Oviedo came to America in 1514, where for over thirty years he compiled detailed ethnographic descriptions of the goods, products, peoples and customs of the Caribbean and Central America. He introduced Europe to a wide variety of previously unheard of New World "exotica" such as the pineapple, the canoe, the smoking of tobacco, and the hammock. Oviedo noted in Spanish:
The indians sleep in a bed they call an 'hamaca' which looks like a piece of cloth with both an open and tight weave, like a net ... made of cotton ... about 2.5 or 3 yards long, with many henequen twine strings at either end which can be hung at any height. They are good beds, and clean ... and since the weather is warm they require no covers at all ... and they are portable so a child can carry it over the arm.
The hammock was perfected in the Caribbean and Brazil and was first introduced to Europeans during Columbus's first voyage of 1492.