January 2, 2004 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. 'Vodou is Haiti's mirror. Its arts and rituals reflect the difficult, brilliant history of seven million people, whose ancestors were brought from Africa to the Caribbean in bondage. In 1791 these Africans began the only successful national slave revolt in history. In 1804 they succeeded in creating the world's first Black republic: the only one in this hemisphere where all the citizens were free. Their success inspired admiration, fear and scorn in the wider world. Cut off from Euro-American support, Haitians managed to created their own dynamic "Creole" society-one rooted in Africa but responsive to all that was encountered in their new island home.' History, theology and religious art.
Related :- an essay on the Vodou concept of soul, Voodoos and Obeahs on sacred-texts ('required reading if you want to understand the background of Haitian and Jamaican Vodun, and the profound influence of imperialism, slavery and racism on its development').
posted by plep (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
why is it such a poor country???
damn, there must be some leaders in haiti, that arn't corrupt.
posted by billybobtoo at 8:19 AM on January 2, 2004

Some more links on vodou (mostly Haitian, but there is some crossover with New Orleans Vodou in there.) And, of course, you can't mention Haiti without a link to Kreyol.com, which is an utterly invaluable resource when it comes to the language and history.

And, actually, looking for Mambo Racine's website meant that I found a UK vodou mailing list, so go me!
posted by Katemonkey at 8:33 AM on January 2, 2004

Haiti has an interesting history - here's a brief overview, with examples of Haitian art. One of the few places where a successful slaves' revolt was staged. This page goes into much more depth, especially regarding the Haitian Revolution.
posted by plep at 8:45 AM on January 2, 2004

This cool post wouldn't be complete without mentioning Wade Davis' sensational ( and controversial ) book, "The Serpent and the Rainbow", based on his ethnobotanical research into the poisons allegedly used to create "zombies".

I'll say that word again, for effect -
posted by troutfishing at 9:44 AM on January 2, 2004

I have always liked the lucky mojo site.

I just got to thinking this site must be really old, as I remember
it being one of the very early "weird" things I found on the internet.

(the wayback machine has it back to 1997, which I guess is a long time in internet years)
posted by milovoo at 2:05 PM on January 2, 2004

The Haitians "managed to" create a working religion? "Managed to"? Ugh.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:05 PM on January 2, 2004

Excellent post, plep. Having been to Haiti and soon to be going back, it's amazing how strong their faith is in their spirituality. Perhaps that is because, in a nation with little resources, their faith is more of a sure-thing than worldly prosperity. Messages of hope and reminders of the intervention of God/Gods are painted everywhere, from lottery stands to the tap-tap trucks.

Entering a hounfour, or Voudoun temple, is an amazing experience. One I visited in Jacmel had a red cross planted near the doorway. "It is where the old hougan (priest) is buried," my guide told me. By the entrance was a red chair leaning up against a wall. "And that is where he guards the doorway."

Voudoun processions, led by 'rara' bands, are joyous and wild. I watched in awe, wishing my culture had an analog to that kind of festivity, where the gods are honored with music and strong rum (clairin). We could learn a lot from the free spirited passion of Haiti's people, who despite their nation's poverty, are proud and unswayed by missionaries and 'western' encroachment on their beliefs.
posted by moonbird at 8:32 PM on January 2, 2004

Beautifully spoken, moonbird.
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 PM on January 2, 2004

Excellent post, plep - and some great in-thread links, thanks to all. This will make fun Sunday reading. Here are a few more related sites that are also worth noting: WebVodun which has some good articles and images, and African Traditional Religions Including: Yoruba, Voodoo, Juju, Haiti.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:42 AM on January 3, 2004

Heathens! Savages! There is one God, and his name is Jehovah!

Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah!

*Troutfishing is felled in a hail of stones thrown by Monty Python extras*
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 AM on January 3, 2004

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