In his drawings, Alberto del Pozo recreates the mythical attributes of several orishas. Each of the illustrations on view in the Otto G. Richter Library lobby depicts a god or goddess from Santería’s pantheon. The deities are shown in a peaceful pose, surrounded by artifacts symbolizing aspects of their personalities. Represented in each work is the image of the Catholic saint that corresponds to the orisha.
The origins of the Afro-Cuban orishas can be traced to the 19th Century slave trade, when thousands of men, women, and children were taken from their Yoruba homes in Nigeria to be sold as slaves in the new world. Many were introduced to Catholic teachings, resulting in a blending of Yoruba and Christian beliefs over time. Due to structural similarities between the two religions, the Yoruba gods were juxtaposed with Catholic saints. This union gave rise to a new system of beliefs known as Lucumí or Santería, the “way of the saints.” This mixing of African and Catholic faiths has continued to attract practitioners.
The Campilli family, in honor of Carlos Campilli, generously donated Alberto del Pozo’s Orichas to the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC). These illustrations are rich treasures of the CHC. Original illustrations in pen, ink and crayon are on display, along with signed and unsigned reproduction lithographs. These drawings bring to life several of the orichas in the Santería pantheon, using color and pattern with brilliant effect. The original orichas on exhibit are Yemayá, Changó, Ochún, Oko, Eleguá, Obá and Obatalá. The reproductions are Babalú Ayé, Ibeyi, Inle, Ochosi, Ochumaré, Ogún, Olla, Orula, Osaín, and Yewa.
Divine Orichas is on view through Summer 2012. For more information or to view all of the Orichas, please visit: http://merrick.library.miami.edu/cubanHeritage/chc5010/