I am a fan of T-shirts with graphic prints. One day I created some drawings based on traditional Orisha symbols and printed them just for myself to wear. T-shirts are a way of expressing yourself, you can walk around with a visible message and bring it into public space.
On my journey to Nigeria I took some of them with me and realized that it is not only about the “images”, the drawings themselves, but a lot about the public “image”, the way how people think about it. Traditional Orisha worship is often considered evil, and what has been an ordinary T-shirt back in Europe became a strong statement in Nigeria.
Clothes are used to communicate between the individual and the society in the Yoruba traditions of indigo dyeing. Patterns and ornaments express personal feelings or speak about one’s status. The one wearing these textiles becomes a messenger. I wanted to share my Orisha drawings in this sense. Every image comes with its story - this was the idea for creating this blog. Connecting storytelling to images, contributing to the image of Orisha worldwide and honoring the beauty of Yoruba culture. The blog texts quickly became the important part of this website!
I am trying to tell interesting stories here - and I am very honored and thankful that so many people from all over the world collaborated in interviews and gave me the permission to publish their texts, artworks and photos. They all contribute with their fascinating and passionate work to Yoruba and Orisha culture. Links and additional information should help the reader to continue his or her own research and get in contact with the people. It is very much about creating a community and an understanding. Orisha, Oricha, Orixá and Òrìṣà means the same, though the cultural and historical context differs today.
Orisha T-shirts are still available, on an external platform. My income is about seven dollars or euros per item and is used to finance this blog. Usually I sell one or two T-Shirts a week, what helps me to reduce the costs of this website. The money made with the Oshun images is donated to the Susanne Wenger Foundation and will be used for saving the heritage of the Sacred Oshun Grove in Osogbo. In the future hopefully other projects on Yoruba-culture, like books on dance, music, art or language, can be started!
My name is Moussa Kone and I am a visual artist focused on drawings. The passion for Latin percussion brought me to Cuba and with batá-drumming started my journey into the world of the Orisha. Some longer stays in Berlin, where I met my Lukumí padrino, Havana, New York and Brasil gave me impressions from the diaspora. The Odu Idin Ileke and artist Susanne Wenger finally completed the circle from the Orisha back to the arts and led me to the Sacred Grove of Osogbo, Nigeria. As a student of Yorùbá language and philosophy, artist and member of the Susanne Wenger Foundation in Austria I am trying to tell interesting stories around the world of Orisha. This website is a small contribution, from my personal point of view.
Creating a website on Orisha topics is entering the tower of Babel. Yorùbá, as it is written and spoken in Nigeria, uses sounds, diacritic marks and letters that do not exist in English. An example would be the Yorùbá letter “ṣ” with a dot below, which is pronounced more or less similar to the English “sh”. The river goddess “Oshun”, written in Yorùbá as “Ọ̀ṣun”, can be easily read and pronounced “Osun” by English readers. The Lukumí from Cuba would call her “Ochún” following Spanish language rules, a Brazilian writing Portuguese calles her “Oxúm”. If you now add the Cuban Orisha “Osún” (an aspect of Ifá) to this discussion, which would be written “Òsùn” in Yorùbá, with a normal "s" and a different “o”, the confusion is complete. Are we now speaking of Ọ̀ṣun, Osún, Ozún, Òsùn, Ochún, Oxúm or Oshun?
Some people re-africanize diaspora expressions, what often remains speculative. Others stick to the Spanish version, which lacks the precise tonal language. Finally there are different discourses depending on whether one speaks of Yemayá (Cuba), Iemanjá (Brazil) or Yemọja (Nigeria). Every spelling is an attempt to render spoken language, therefore all versions make sense and are right according to their current origin.
Since this is a blog, and not an academic paper, I will write with a free mind. The readers of this blog have knowledge about Yorùbá related themes and most Olorisha with internet-access today are multilingual and familiar with at least two of the languages: Yorùbá, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Depending on the content I will choose different ways of spelling. Nigerian themes, if possible, with proper Yorùbá-orthography (which some browsers have problems with), interviews with Cuban Babalawo following Lukumí or common articles in a simple “English-Yoruba”, without dotted vowels or tonal markings. I just can’t add English plural-markers to Yorùbá-words, sorry ooo! Important for me is the general readability and the reading flow. I hope you enjoy the articles.
Mo dupe! Thank you! Gracias! Obrigado!