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

Lunch Suit (with slip) for Yemayá (3 pieces)

Catalog Number: B358


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


Width (skirts) : 177.8 cm / 70 inches
Lenght : 116.8 cm / 46 inches 

Religion and Denomination: Santería (Cuba, Yoruba)
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: United States
Ethnographic Origin: Lucumi
Materials: Cloth
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.  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.