Delaire Graff Estate, Africa Nova-Vodun Power Figure, Ewe

Vodun Power Figure

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Ewe, Ghana, Late 20th century
Wood, clay, grass fibres and padlocks
840g | 20cm H x 14cm W
Vodun is the belief in various deities and spirits of nature among the Ewe and Fon peoples of West Africa.  Africans sold as slaves and transferred to the Caribbean and Americas adopted these beliefs, giving rise to Voodoo.  However, the West African Vodun practices were more concerned with spiritual healing and protection, and were thought of as wholly distinct from witchcraft.
Power items were made to maintain a balanced relationship with the spirits, or to remedy misfortune. In this case, the spirit has been bound to the figure with cloth and twine and has quite literally been locked in. The addition of the padlock demonstrates the attraction of modern items and the flexibility of culture. To "activate" the power item, the spirit has been given offerings of herbs and clay, libations of oils and even animal blood. Over time these offerings have resulted in the encrusted patina