Academic journal article Material Culture

Final Take

Academic journal article Material Culture

Final Take

Article excerpt

Since the 1992 Constitutional changes in Cuba, and as the economic crisis dives deeper in a post-Soviet era, religious expression on the island increases Shops like this botánica, sell santería religious objects and are becoming increasingly common across the island Originally conceived as a syncretic religion that blended African animist faiths with Roman Catholicism, santería allowed slaves to give praise to their African orisha (manifestation of god) without reprimands from the masters because each god had a name and image in both religions

Thus, Saint Barbara became Babalú-Ayé (colors red and white), and is the protector of many, including soldiers and police officers Saint Lazarus was Changó (colors purple, brown and black), Saint Michale or Saint Anthony of Padua, was represented by Eleguá (colors black and red), and so forth

Those who adopt one of the dozens of syncretic saints or orishas as their protectors can be seen wearing bracelets, ear rings, and necklaces that identify them with their particular protectorate and saint Cuban homes often display small shrines devoted to a particular saint, regardless of their Catholic beliefs or skin color

The meaning and the display of santería objects have evolved over nearly four centuries from an illegal, class- and race-specific practice, to a mainstay cultural artifact This is what Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortíz meant when he discussed transculturation on the island as well as his references to Cuba as a cultural stew or ajiáco

Photo and caption by Dr. …

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