Agwé the Ocean Spirit

What exactly is a vodou bottle and how does it relate to the Afro-Creole religion? Well, a vodou bottle is a ritualistic set piece for an alter, meant as a sacrifice to mostly any belief, but they usually tend to be for a Loa. These bottles are important because it represents a spirit encapsulated in a physical vessel. The Loa are spirits of the Haitian Vodou, and there are many of them with different types. Some examples are the Ghede loa which represent the spirits of the dead, the Petro loa that are generally more aggressive, and the Rada loa, which tend to be the older of the many loa. For myself, I decided to make a bottle based around the loa Agwé, the ruler of the sea and all that is in it. Now I’m not the most artistic person in the world but I did what I could with the materials I had. There are a few offerings that are specific to Agwé that I put into this project. First I started out with a rum bottle, which wasn’t exactly a naval rum that Agwé would like but the next best thing. Next I filled it completely with coffee grounds since Agwé seems to really like coffee. Unfortunately I did not have cream or sugar at the time to include so Agwé better like his coffee black. What the coffee also signifies is the color brown which is an important color to Agwé, as well as the copper colored sharpie that I used but I’ll get to that later. Another obvious color to include was blue, which I used painters tape for and also leads into how the bottle pertains to me specifically. I wanted to include the painters tape because my dad has been painting for as long as I remember and when I was a kid I would tend to help him out if possible. I also have gaffers tape surrounding it as well, which is from my time in high school in my television production course where we would use the tape for the unintended purpose of creating art with it and making our names on the wall. Using the tape I also included a window of sorts so you can see into the inside of the bottle. Like I mentioned before, I used a copper sharpie to draw some figures and shapes on the bottle. I drew just some basic waves on the top and bottom to signify the ocean and then I drew my best interpretation of a ship that is used as one of the many symbols of Agwé. The red and silver string that surrounds it is honestly just some thread I found and thought it would be cool to add to it, but that’s what it’s all about. With these bottles mostly being made in impoverished areas, they use whatever materials they can find in order to make these bottles. Making something like this is a fun learning experience, not something where you follow a guideline. As a class, we were given free reign to create whatever we wanted and represent it in any way we wish as long as it used the bottle at its core. When talking about how something like this is can be global, I believe everyone in this course that has created a bottle is proof that this is a global idea. Anyone, if they wish, can create something like this and have it represent any sort of meaning, whether it’s very personal or something you’re open to talking about.


3 thoughts on “Agwé the Ocean Spirit

  1. Christopher Costello

    I really wanted to take this course so i’m jealous you got to make such a cool piece. I really like the idea of using any items you can find to craft this vodou bottle, and it looks sweet. I really like how you drew the waves and what not in the copper sharpie i think it looks really cool. I didn’t know that you sacrificed these bottles to lou’s and it was interesting to see how you choose a specific one that interests you. I think I probably would have chosen the same one. Agwe seems like an interesting character and i wish i had the time to study him like you did.

  2. Nikki-Marie Trivisonno

    I really like the idea of using anything you have around you to make something both personal and representative. I think it must have been really cool to take this class and get to be creative and a little artistic while learning. I also like that you tried to use simple things that remind you of good times like painting with your dad. It is always cool to have a representation of our past.

  3. Devin Phaek

    This was an interesting read. This class relates much with the class Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors. Our classes both involves understanding the religious spirits or being connected with the supernatural beings. You have mentioned Vodou bottle is a ritualistic piece which is sacrificed for Loa. Very similarly in China, in order to connect with your past ancestors, they have a culture of joss paper. Joss paper is basically an origami built in a shape of everyday objects we use varying from clothes, cell phones, money, and even cars. The papers are burned in traditional Chinese deity or ancestor worship ceremonies during special holidays. Then, they believe ancestors are able to get things they need in the spirit world. It is interesting to see how many people believe they could connect with the spirits all over the world.


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