An Orisha (spelled r? in the Yoruba language, orich or orix in Latin America) is a deity that reflects one of the manifestations of the Supreme Divinity (Eledumare,Olorun, Olofi) in Yoruba religion. Orisha are said to have existed in the invisible world (run) and lived as humans beings in the planetary world (ay). Others are said to be humans who are recognised as deities due to extraordinary feats. Many Orishas have found their way to most of the New World as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and are now expressed in practices as varied as Santera, Candombl, Trinidad Orisha, Umbanda, and Oyotunji, among others. Photographer James C. Lewis went out on a creative limb to re-imagine ancient African Yoruba dieties- the Orisha, using striking models, expert photography, and inventive photo editing techniques. While the true essence of the Orisha is likely poorly understood by most people in the modern world in comparison to their ancient and rich roots in African culture, Lewis creates a stunning visual world that is sure to spark the imagination. As a culture we are quite use to the artistic treatment of religious, spiritual, and mythical entities from Greek ancestral lore, various world religions, and other cultural heroes, yet rarely is the fascinating world of the Orisha the topic of discussion. These images are gorgeous, shocking, and of course an artists interpretation, but hopefully they get your wheels turning in regards to the power, complexity, and richness of Yoruba spiritual symbology and life:
When asked to express where his inspiration for this photo project arose from, Lewis had this to say:
?Throughout my formal education from elementary up through college I never heard tale of African deities. A little over a month ago I began to research online to find information in regards to the gods & goddesses of Africa. To my surprise there were many, however the ones that stood out the most were the deities of Nigeria and Benin, West Africa which they referred to as Orishas.
I wanted to portray the regal beauty of each Orisha while also representing their majestic sensuality. Each iconic depiction was rendered to lend strength to our resilience as a great race of people and to show our youth that they are beautiful, bold and brilliant just they way God created them to be. each Orisha?s name is written in the Yoruba dialect and captures imagery of powerful men, women & children of various complexions who are all of African descent.?
Sources: All Images Property of James C. Lewis
More Info: What is IFA?
If is practiced throughout the Americas, West Africa, and the Canary Islands, in the form of a complex religious system, and plays a critical role in the traditions of Santera, Candombl, Palo, Umbanda, Vodou, and other Afro-American faiths, as well as in some traditional African religions. Click here for more info!
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