Orisha Art and symbol. Thrones.

 

Orisha Art and symbol; thrones.
There are so many ways that an Artist walking this path can use their skills. The building of thrones for the Orisha, and making of ceremonial dress  is so much part of our culture. In addition there are Pañuelos to dress our Orisha on special occasions and Banderas to hang in our houses amongst other things.My second Ocha birthday was the first time I was challenged to build a throne for my Orisha. There are rules on how to build a throne correctly, and with those in mind, it was an exciting challenge to buy fabrics and learn how to use a staple gun. London is full of exciting fabric shops. The fact that we have such a huge African, Afro Caribbean and Asian community means that there is a wealth of interesting fabrics to
experiment with.
2nd birthday throne
2nd birthday throne
For my second birthday I decided to delve into the Asian shops of Southall to buy Saris in the colours of My path of Oshun and use them to build my throne. Southall and Bricklane house fabric shops selling Saris but also many Asian inspired fabrics. In Brixton and Dalston you find African Fabrics. For more of a traditional Satin theme, there are the traditional shops in Berwick Street Market, although a cheaper alternative is to go to Shepherds Bush for a great selection of reasonably Priced fabric shops; and for embellishing, I have a prefered Habedashery that I go to in Kentish Town that sells all manor of beautiful trimmings, but there are many traditional Shops that sell trimmings all over London. I never saw myself particularly as a Visual Artist, however I always had clear images in my head, pictures I wanted to paint and scenes and stories I wanted to create in a visual way. My third Birthday was very special since we hosted the first tambor de Fundamento ever in the UK. wildindigo.co.uk I decided a few months previously that I was going to make a banner to decorate my throne. I had a strong image in my mind and went out to buy sequins, shells, trimmings, fabric, and beads  and silk threads that I thought I could paint my picture with. The Banner took three months to make. I spent all my spare time sewing on the sequins, beads and threads and I was so happy with the result. My Third Birthday Banner Maferefun La Ocha!
The Banner depicts a Peacock and is decorated with Sequins and beads; on either side of the Peacock is written Ile Ochun Kayode and above Maferefun La Ocha. The Border is decorated with Gold Trimming, Gold Cowrie shells and Bells and a fan made out of Mother of Pearl.
Peacock feather tale. Hand sewn
Peacock feather tale. Hand sewn
detail of third birthday banner
detail of third birthday banner

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Third Birthday Throne, photo by Reynaldo Trombetta

Thrones for the Orisha are built for all sorts of reasons. A throne is built for a new initiate, who will have to sleep on the floor for seven days; to celebrate the Birthday of an Olorisha; to honour an Orisha  on the day of a Tambor.  In Cuba thrones tend to be less ostentatious than perhaps in the US;  but I think the most important thing has to be when building a throne that you are building it with love in your heart and not with the idea that the throne has to be bigger or better. If you are interested in the history of Orisha Art in the Diasporo have a look at  the  fascinating  book Written by David H. Brown called “Santeria Enthroned: Art, Ritual and Innovation in an Afro -Cuban Religion”. This book has some great photos, information about the legacy of our religion and explanations contemporary  style of dress and throne. For those of you who are in London here are good spots for buying fabrics: http://www.diy-couture.co.uk/shepherdsbush.html http://www.macculloch-wallis.co.uk/FrameStatic.aspx/TheStore.htm http://www.beadinginlondon.co.uk/shops/ http://www.dalstonmillfabrics.co.uk/ http://www.africanqueenfabrics.com/

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for this insightful information. I am an artist studying Santeria with the view to find ways of sharing Santeria and Yoruba mythologies to a wider audience
    See my blog for more information about my journey and process.
    http://yewandeokuleye.com/2013/10/30/osuns-offering-a-performance-by-yewande-okuleye/

    I would love to see the next installation of your throne

    1. Thanks So much for reading and responding Yewande. Interested very much in viewing your work although also intrigued in academic study of a spiritual practise when the artist is not an initiate. Very interested however in dialogue. My questions are two fold. A throne or altar to Orisha when the initiate is crowned has multilayered meanings not always open to knowledge of non practitioners. Just as non initiates are prohibited to enter the sacred space. Secondly my second questions are is it truly necessary to bring Santeria to a wider audience and why?! I would love to have perhaps a discussion group or something since we are all London based. Is that something you would be interested in?

  2. Hello Oshun’s child,
    I am interested in creating a platform for dialogue and I am open to the idea of having a discussion group.
    In response to your second question ” is it truly necessay to bring Santeria to a wider audience and why?”
    A key part of being an artist for me is to create to disseminate my findings to a wider audience.
    This is what motivates me as an artist.

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