Yoruban Motifs Art Book Launched in Cuba

The Sacred Family
The Sacred Family

Photo feature by Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — Imna Arroyo, an artist and cultural activist of African descent born in Puerto Rico, has just launched a marvelous, limited-edition craft book “The Sacred Family” which brings together linoleum engravings of the Orishas, deities considered the representatives or intermediaries of the god Olofin in Cuba’s Yoruba religion.

Currently, Arroyo is an arts professor and head of the visual arts department at Eastern Connecticut State University.

The book launch was held this past August 2 at the Casa de Africa (“House of Africa”) museum located in Havana’s old town.

The book tells the story of the Orishas. Orula, the Orisha of Wisdom, second only to God, was a witness to the moment of creation. Able to divine destiny, controller of the four winds, Orula saw the creation of the solar system, the Orishas and human beings.

One version of the Yoruba myth of creation tells us that human bodies were sculpted by Obatala and were infused with the breath of life by Olodumare. The newly-created beings were then free to choose their heads, or Ori. Ori is the inner and loftiest being of all individuals and their destiny or fate.

The Yoruba religion maintains that this primordial choice of an Ori is forgotten during the trauma of birth. Orula, Olofin’s scribe, engraves the destiny of every individual soul. He therefore knows our past, present and future.

Owing to his far-reaching gaze and supreme wisdom, and since he is called upon to help humans fulfill their destiny, Orula is sought for his advice through the divination of Ifa.

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