Obatala, or "King of the White Cloth" in the Yoruba language,
is the orisha of creativity, wisdom and purity. Though often represented
as an elder, my rendition appears somewhat youthful and strong, yet wise.
The person who commissioned the work requested that both the Yoruba and
Catholic representations reflected in the Obatala of Santeria be included
in the image. Since I felt a stronger calling towards the depiction of
a Yoruba King, I decided that this image should be dominant in the composition.
The figure holds a traditional staff and although his crown conveys a
European influence it is adorned with 8 cowrie shells (Obatala's number)
and has the dangling beads typical of Oba (Yoruba King) crowns. In the
background, somewhat obscured, is the image of la Virgen de las Mercedes
or our Lady of Mercy with who Obatala is associated in Santeria. For centuries
the image of the father orisha has been hidden behind that of the Virgen,
so my decision to organize the painting in this way is very symbolic.
© Copyright 2003 -09, Yasmin Hernandez. Under no circumstances should any of the images or content of this site be downloaded, printed or reproduced without direct permission from the artist.