shells.jpg - 2800 Bytes Historical Museum of Southern Florida Orisha Thrones

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Afro-Cuban Orisha Arts in Miami


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Altars for the orishas, known as “thrones,” are built for a variety of religious occasions. These textile microcosms have become particularly elaborate in Miami, due to the availability of fabrics and other materials, as well as to the demand by patrons for unique, and often sensational, displays. A designer, such as Norberto “Nene” Fernandez or Jorge Ortega, is responsible for coordinating the colors, materials, objects, and symbols that correspond to the deity for whom the throne is created.

A “consecration throne” is built when a practitioner is initiated into the Orisha priesthood. The throne represents the specific orisha to whom the iyawó (novice) is being ordained. The iyawó, reborn into a new life, is confined to the throne for seven days, during which he or she is attended like a newborn child. An “observance throne” is typically constructed once a year to celebrate the anniversary of the ordination of an olorisha (priest/priestess). Since this type of throne honors an orisha, it is more elaborate than a consecration throne. Though the throne highlights the olorisha’s tutelary deity, other orishas associated with the ordination are also featured in hierarchical order.

A “ritual throne” is typically erected when oracles instruct an olorisha to perform a specific ceremony. Since only one orisha is usually featured, the designer has more space to experiment with materials and mesmerize the devotees. Both ritual and observance thrones contain a variety of fruits, pastries, puddings, breads, and other offerings. At the conclusion of a ceremony, these foods, imbued with ashé (divine energy), are distributed to all present.

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Afro-Cuban Orisha Arts in Miami
The Afro-Cuban Orisha Religion | Orisha Worship in Miami
Orisha Artists | Beadwork | Paños | Garments | Thrones
Herramientas | Music | Ifá Paraphernalia
The Orisha Tradition in Popular Arts
Pantheon of Orishas

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