Item acquired by the Curator in July 1979
Origin: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1967
Small bracelet, statuette of the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows (representation
of Erzulie Danto), offerings
Testimony by Gideon
Female Orisha of the rivers, represents femininity,
charm, flirtatiousness. In Haiti,
she goes by the name of loa Erzulie. She has several
characteristics: under the name of Erzulie Freda, she symbolises the
virgin and feminine seduction condemned to emotional instability.
Erzulie Danto, represented by the black virgin, is the mother and
protector of children; she represents fertility.
Erzulie Gé-Rouge (red eyes) is anger, the dark side of the loa.
In the tarot, the Moon, the symbol of Erzulie, bears the number 18.
Mambo Marinette Racine Coupée listened to the young lady
very attentively. The young Creole woman was crying because she was
unable to bear children. She was already 24 years old and still no
child had come forth from her barren womb. And yet she was pretty,
although a bit skinny in the priestess' view. Her husband was thinking
about replacing her with a new wife, because to a Haitian man nothing
could be worse than not being able to provide for a joyous household.
The doctor had told her that little could be done, which is why she
had returned to the mambo, who was said to possess great powers and to
be regularly mounted
by the loa Erzulie Dantor
Mambo Marinette drew the veve of Papa Legba,
shook her asson in the compound rhythm of the loa and asked
him to open the doors separating the world of the spirits from the
world of humans.
She then invoked Erzulie Dantor and her trance began.
Her voice suddenly changed, her eyes rolled back in her head and she
spoke a few words: "The bracelet of the fertile moon".
"Make a bracelet consisting of 18 coloured glass beads.
Offer three to Papa Legba and choose the number of children that you
would like to have. Count them on the bracelet. The bead on which you
stop will answer your question. If it is white, you will remain
barren; if it is red you will have more boys than girls; if it is blue
you will have more girls than boys; if it is green you will have
twins; if it is black you will die giving birth to your first child."
The mambo continued her litany.
"To thank Erzulie, you will henceforth wear clothes and
jewellery in the colour of the designated bead. Don't forget to thank
him, no matter what he answers."
The young girl named a figure between 10 and 20; this might seem
like a lot to us, but it wasn't to her. I won't tell you which number
she chose, because if the loa is still associated with the bracelet
you will find out soon enough.
She fastened her bracelet so as to offer three beads to Papa Legba,
the guardian of the gates, and then counted in one direction followed
by counting in the other direction.
"I have one of the earrings of the querent,
who is now in her fifties and rather rotund.
It is the same colour as prophesied because I was her first child and
we all wear an identical one in memory of Erzulie. All you have to do
is ask the bracelet if you want to find out," Gideon told me as he
handed me the bracelet.
I first made an offering of perfume to Erzulie, then attached the bracelet
as the mambo had explained. I counted a number between 10 and 20 in
one direction and then in the other and ended up on a red bead. The
colour of the earring and also the colour of the clothes worn by my
friend's mother. He confirmed that this was indeed the number of
children in their family.