Culture

Inside ‘Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti’| Chicago Reader


Before we go any further, it should be made clear that the name of the Field Museum’s new exhibit is pronounced “voh-DOO.” Also, vodouists don’t make those little cloth dolls to curse their enemies; they use them to carry messages to their ancestors and other deceased loved ones. And finally, oungan and manbo, vodou priests and priestesses, cannot raise the dead. A zonbi is not a reanimated corpse, but a body that’s been robbed of its soul and enslaved by a master—and given the history of both vodou and Haiti, which are inextricably intertwined, that’s about the worst thing that can happen to anybody.The exhibit consists of 300 ceremonial objects culled from the 2,000-piece Lehmann Collection, now held by the Foundation for the Preservation, Enhancement and Production of Haitian Cultural Works in Pétion-Ville, Haiti. The curators, Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique and Mauro Peressini, have written all the explainer text in the first-person plural, as though the vodouists of Haiti are explaining their religion directly to you. It could come off as condescending if their intended audience were familiar with vodou and its rituals, but, considering all the misconceptions that have sprung up about vodou starting with the thing about the cloth dolls, that’s pretty unlikely. via | Chicago Reader

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