Castera Bazile

Haiti 1923-1965
Ceremonie de Mapou (Ceiba Tree Ceremony) 2002.0014

Castera Bazile came into contact with the Centre d'Art through his work as a domestic servant for DeWitt Peters, the center's founder. Bazile quickly became a professional artist and had a distinguished, albeit short, career. In 1955 he won First Prize in ALCOA's Caribbean International Art Competition, and won the $1,000 First Prize in the 1957 Holiday Magazine competition. In 1962, at the age of 39, Bazile contracted tuberculosis and died a few years later. In vodou, the lwa (spirits) are closely related to nature and are believed to reside in springs, rivers, and trees. Sometimes vodou followers make pilgrimages and offerings to these types of sites to show their devotion to the spirits. Worship for Loco, the spirit of vegetation, is often associated with the worship of trees, especially the mapou or silk-cotton tree, sometimes called the ceiba. The towering mapou, one of the tallest types of trees in Haiti, is considered sacred. In this painting, a man climbs a mapou while other individuals watch. Offerings have been placed in the straw bag he carries, which he will then hang from the tree. The man in the foreground holds an ason (sacred rattle) that is used to summon the spirits. Other offerings have been placed at the bottom of the tree, including coins and a candle under a bila (tent). The man's makout (straw bag) and the miniature straw hats on the ground also associate this offering with Azaka, the spirit of agriculture. As in many other vodou ceremonies, drapo (ritual flags), and food (indicated by the two cocks that will be sacrificed) play an important role.




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