Haitian Vodou has direct roots in Africa as many deities in its pantheon have African precedents, even though their characters have been elaborated and altered over time through amalgamation with Amerindian and European divinities, including the saints of the Catholic Church.
Richly decorated banners (examples are currently on display at the 55th International Venice Art Biennale) are employed at the opening of Vodou ceremonies and, undoubtedly, quite a few of them look quite beautiful with their eye-catching colours and glittering sequins.
These decorative elements are employed to entice the spirits to enter the temple and possess devotees. The tradition of making such banners flourished under colonial occupation in Africa. Nearly all Haitian Vodou practitioners use flags or drapo which represent gods or spirits using iconography derived from depictions of Catholic saints, Masonic symbols, and martime lore, in addition to the veve, ritual designs believed to function as beacons for the ancestral spirits or Ioa.
The ancestral spirits are charaterised by different attributes, such as boats, playing cards, rainbows or sunglasses with one lens missing.
The creator god, Dambala, is usually represented with snakes, as the master of the sky. Dambala controls the life giving force of rain and is associated with fertility and wisdom. Dambala and the other Ioa can be invoked to help and offer counsel, providing immediate guidance and comfort to believers.
Yet the Ioa are also given to rage, lasciviousness or jealousy. Erzulie Freda for example is characterised by a heart-shaped veve and flirts with men but considers all women as enemies.
If you ever want to use Haitian Vodou banners as inspiration for your art works or a fashion collection, always remember to do so with respect in mind not to offend the devotees. In the case of Haitian Vadou banners, it would perhaps be more interesting to use them as the starting point to come up with a new embellishment technique or with innovative geometrical designs and patterns.Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos
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