Three-point Taino idols belong to a broader category of Taíno art called Zemis, which also include carved stone and wood figures used to venerate both familial as mythic ancestors. Jesse Walter Fewkes, who collected Taíno objects for the Smithsonian Institution at the beginning of the 20th century, defined Zemis as,
'Symbols of deities, idols, bones or skulls of the dead, or anything supposed to have magic powers. The dead or the spirits of the dead were called by the same term.
The designation applied both to the magic power of the sky, the earth, the sun and the moon, as well as to the tutelary ancestors of clans.'
Over half of the extant three-pointers are undecorated of a very pure universal form. Those with incised designs exhibit a wide range of motifs, including anthropomorphic faces, animals from recognizable species, and supernatural beings with multiple identities. The majority of the inhabitants on Hispaniola, used Zemis for various purposes. A widespread assumption is that they were routinely buried in conucos (manioc mounds) as fertility charms.