Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Lunch Suit with Beret for Agallú (3 pieces)

Catalog Number: B362


Santería/Ocha priestess Lourdes López for “Ritual Dress of Initiation,” a 1987 exhibition at New York City’s Caribbean Cultural Center


Lenght : 67.31cm/26.5 inches
Width :  45.72cm/18 inches 
Width (arms) : 132.08cm /52 inches 

Pants : 
Lenght : 76.2/30inches 
Width : 45.72cm/18 inches 

Religion and Denomination: Ocha (Cuba, Yoruba)
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: United States
Ethnographic Origin: Lucumi
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

The kariocha initiation of Cuban and Cuban-inspired Santería/Ocha reconstitutes the initiand as a “bride” (llabó or llagguó) of his or her tutelary god.  The initiand is also “crowned” (coronado) as a monarch or a warrior, depending upon the nature of the tutelary god.  During this process, the head of the initiand is shaved, bathed in herbal solutions, painted with invocatory patterns, and “fed” (alimentado) with blood, which imparts sacred energy (ache) to the new god that “has been “born” (ha nacido) through this week-long process.  In the Egwado branch of Santería/Ocha, the god Agallú is born and installed directly in the worshiper’s head.  On the other hand, in the Ọyọ-dominant tradition of Santería/Ocha that is practiced in Havana, Changó is installed in the devotee’s head as songs are sung for Agallú.  Simultaneously, a set of at least five vessels (soperas and bateas)–each one filled with stones, shells, and other items embodying a god (including the tutelary god)—receives a parallel consecration and feeding.  Each vessel embodies one of the gods who protect and dwell in the body of the initiand, and these vessels will be used, for the rest of the initiate’s life, in communications and in the management of the initiate’s relationships with these gods.  Through most of this week and for the next year, the new initiate is treated and must conduct him- or herself like a newborn, because of the death of the old self and his or her re-birth as an acolyte of the god. 

Gods like the thunder god Changó, the goddess of the sea Yemayá, and the goddess of sweet water Ochún are monarchs.  And so are their priests.  The god of war and iron Oggún, the god of communication and the crossroads Elegguá, and the god of the hunt and of law enforcement Ochosi are warriors.  And so are their priests.  Their clothing on the “middle day” is typically distinguished by the inclusion of burlap in the outfit.  This rustic-looking fabric suggests’ the tutelary god’s association with the countryside, the wilderness, and the power to cross the border between these elements and the city.