Haitian folk art that reveals the shimmering world of vodou.
Once little known outside of Haiti, Vodou
flags (drapo Vodou), dazzling in color and imagery, have
become popular commodities in the international art
market. Works by such notable Haitian artists as Silva
Joseph, Antoine Oleyant, and Yves Telemak now grace the
walls of museums, art galleries, and private homes
throughout the world. Shimmering with sequins and
reflected light, they capture the attention of Vodou
practitioners and art lovers alike.
This book about Vodou flags and flagmakers
is a striking revelation of the gods (Iwa) that inhabit
the Vodou spirit world. The sequined works pictured here
combine and juxtapose African symbols with images from
Europe and the Americas and form a rich mosaic of ritual
Inspired by myths, legends, and unique
personal visions, the artists of Vodou flags interweave
sacred, time-honored designs with contemporary images as
they produce captivating works that are both ancient and
modern. Their flags, incorporating ritual drawings,
Masonic symbols, and pictures of mermaids and Catholic
saints, offer viewers an encounter with the aesthetics,
symbolism, and social implications of Vodou.
The spiritual realm reflected in the flags
is not the dark, frightening place of black magic and
superstition that is stereotyped in popular culture.
Instead, drapo exemplify the beauty, elegance, and
enduring embrace of gods and ancestors in their present
manifestations. The flags are the artists' visual
testimonials that the Iwa are present and active in the
lives of Vodou practitioners.
Arthur Polk serves as the museum scientist and archivist
for the UCLA Folk-lore and Mythology Program.
72 pages, 44 full-color photographs