As with any religion, there’s a dark side to Haitian Vodou. It’s not all encompassing, as the mainstream media and Hollywood would have you believe. Still, it’s sometimes easy to understand how non-practitioners of the faith could assume such a falsehood. Spooky characters like this guy are but one reason why.
His name is Bizango. I found him for sale within the famed Iron Market in Port-au-Prince during my first visit to the Marriott Port-au-Prince a few years ago. The extensive art collection at the hotel had inspired me to do a little shopping. I had hoped to find something along the lines of the amazing Veve flags (also known as Vodou flags) hanging just off the hotel’s main lobby.
As you might imagine, finding Bizango instead came as a bit of a shock.
The figurine appeared for all the world to me to represent those same old misguided notions of Vodou perpetuated in popular TV and cinema over the years. I remember feeling a little disappointed… What was the deal?
Looks Really Are Everything
Later on I learned that there’s a very good reason why Bizango looks so scary. In the Haitian Vodou tradition, Bizango is a warlike loa or spirit. Despite his bone-chilling countenance, though, he’s not an aggressor. Instead, Bizango is revered as a protector.
That’s right, he’s a good guy.
Artistic representations of Bizango like this one are displayed in homes to repel evil spirits, keeping the people inside safe from harm.
As a Dad with a family of my own to protect, I’m definitely down with Bizango. Bringing him home and working him into our decor, though, was another matter…