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X94.76.3 Santa Marta with Hot Snake Spirit on Their Mountain


Santa Marta with Hot Snake Spirit on Their Mountain
Artist: Pierrot Barra
Place of Origin: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Materials Used: Wood, satin, plastic, sequins, beads, pins, metallic ribbon, lace
Date: 1993
Dimensions: H: 105.5 cm, W: 91.0 cm, D: 30.0 cm (H: 41.5 in, W: 35.8 in, D: 11.8 in)
Credit Line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Museum Purchase. X94.76.3

Santa Marta is very often associated with Santa Anaisa, the matron saint of the Dominican Republic. In Haitian Vodou, Anaisa is identified with Metrezili (Ezili Danto), the Isa of love, passion, and fidelity, who is hardworking and hard living, the guardian saint of Haitian working women. According to Patrick Polk, Metrezili is “the epitome of sex and desire, the woman every man should want to have, hold, and serve. She is the mistress who is master”. Santa Marta la Dominadora resonates in the same way. Her place is near the hotter, more aggressive, and less-controllable deities, on the Petwo side. Among Haitians she is known as “La Reine Kong” (The Kongo Queen), who works with the snake-water divinities of Kongo origin known as simbis. Haitian artist Pierrot Barra, who created a wonderful reposwa (an object containing a Iwa) for Santa Marta la Dominadora, has spoken about her thus: She is one of the big djabs [devils] who comes from Santa Domingo [Dominican Republic]… She works with a snake when she comes out. She runs the snake all over. The snake works the same as Damballa Flambeau, but its more hot than La Flambeau. It’s bigger than that. Bizango can’t stop him. Shampwel can’t stop him. Santa Marta has a child. A djab who never gives his name. Only his wife knows. The spirit only listens to him. If he told her “Don’t do something,” she wouldn’t do it. They are on a bridge, or something like a piece of mountain. They control it. Nobody can come near. No Haitian had this spirit. If someone had it, I’ve never seen it. I saw it in a dream.

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 162-164

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