This nOde last updated March 22nd, 2003 and is permanently morphing...
(4 Et'znab (Flint) / 11 Kumk'u - 238/260 - 188.8.131.52.18)
Shango is portrayed with
a double axe on his head (the symbol of thunder), with six eyes and sometimes
with three heads. His symbolic animal is the ram, and his favorite colors
are red and white, which are regarded as being holy. In Brazil, Shango
is worshipped as a thunder and weather god by the Umbandists. In Santeria,
Shango (Chango) is the equivalent of the Catholic saint St. Barbara.
From: Richard A. Lethin (lethin@yale.ARPA)
Subject: Re: Yoruba culture - Book by Robert Thompson
Date: 1985-05-13 19:31:53 PST
In article <145@nvuxb.UUCP> javier@nvuxb.UUCP (J. Lujan) writes:
Does anyone know about the "Yoruba
> interested in knowing more about their culture since their
> religion is very much alive in some spanish-speaking
> countries (mostly in central america) and also spanish
> quarters of our american cities.
I recently (this past semester) took a course entiled "The Black Atlantic Visual Tradition," taught by Professor Robert Thompson, or "Master 'T'" as he is better known here.
The course concerned itself with the transportation of several major African cultures (including the Yoruba) to the Western Hemisphere. The Yoruba religion, with such gods as Ogun (god of iron), Shango (The Thunder God), and Eshu-Elegba (The Trickster), was creolized in the new world - it mixed with other African Religions and the christian religion of the missionaries to form new very rich religions. In particular, these hybrid faiths can be found in Brazil (Rio), Cuba, and Haiti. These religions are still practiced today; in fact, with the immigration of Cubans to the United States, the religions are very much alive here. Perhaps one of the most visible signs of this around today are Botanicas, shops which sell the special items, herbs, etc., needed for the faith. I am told that these shops can be found throughout Miami, along Riverside Drive in NYC, and that there is even one located here in good old New Haven!
Thompson has written an excellent book describing this process; it also covers quite a bit about Kongo and Haitian culture. The Book is called "Flash of the Spirit," by Robert Farris Thompson (Vintage Books: 1983). I'll quote from the introduction:
Since the Atlantic slave trade, ancient African
organizing principles of song and dance have crossed
the seas from the Old World to the New. There they
took on new momentum, intermingling with each other
and with New World or European styles of singing and
...Flash of the Spirit is about visual and philosophic
streams of creativity and imagination, running parallel
to the massive musical and choreographic modalities
that connect black persons of the western hemisphere,
as well as the millions of European and Asian people
attracted to and performing their styles, to Mother
Africa. Aspects of the art and philosophy of the
Yoruba of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin; the Bakongo
of Bas-Zaire and neighboring Cabinda, Congo-Brazzaville,
and Angola; the Fon and Ewe of the Republic of Benin
and Togo; the Mande of Mali and neighboring territory;
and the Ejagham of the Cross River in southeastern
Nigeria and Southeastern Cameroon, have come from
sub-Saharan Africa to the western hemisphere...
-- FOTS, by RF Thompson, Introduction
This is a great book, which I highly recommend to you. It's been published in paperback, and costs ~$10. The NY Times Book Review loved it.
Yale, TD'85 ...decvax!yale!lethin