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Indian King of Mami Wata
Artist: Joseph Kossivi Ahiator
W: 267 cm, H: 225 cm (W: 105.1 in, H: 88.6 in)
Fowler Museuma at UCLA. Museum Purchase. X2005.5.1
According to Dana Rush, who commissioned this work from sought-after shrine artist Joseph Kossivi Ahiator for the Fowler Museum, in about January of 2005, the artist began having vivid dreams of a nineteen-headed Indian king spirit together with his nine-headed queen. He dreamed that he was swimming with them in the ocean and thereafter called the male “King of Mami Wata” and his queen “NaKrishna.” An Indian print he had seen in 1977 served as inspiration for this work. While he could not remember the name of the male Hindu deity, it may represent Vishnu in universal form. When Rush commissioned the piece, Ahiator suggested that he paint it on cloth so she could hang it in her bedroom in order to “study it during her sleep.” He noted that visitors to the exhibition accompanying this book would be able “to travel to India if they studied his painting well”.
Source: Drewal, Henry John. (2008) “Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 57