Afro-Cuban Religions

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"African-derived religions enrich all aspects of Cuba's social, cultural, and everyday life, and encompass all ethnic and social groups. Politics, art, and civil events such as weddings, funerals, festivals, and carnivals all possess distinctly Afro-Cuban characteristics. Miguel Barnet provides a concise guide to the various traditions and branches of Afro-Cuban religions. He distinguishes between the two most important cult forms - the Regla de Ocha (Santeria) and the Regla de Palo Monte. Regla de Ocha promotes worship of the Orisha (gods), and uses traditional oracles that originated in the old Yoruba city of Ile-Ife. The Regla de Palo Monte came from the Congo area. The term palo refers to the ritual use of trees and plants, which are believed to have magical powers." Africans who were brought to Cuba as slaves had to recreate their old traditions in their new Caribbean context. As their African heritage collided with Catholicism and with Native American and European traditions, certain African gods and traditions became more prominent while others lost their significance in the new Cuban culture. The author also discusses the roles of music and dance as forms of Cuban religious expression and describes the specific instruments and symbols they employ. The book ends with an enthusiastic depiction of Barnet's recent research journey to West Africa, the Land of the Orishas.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Director of the Fernando Ortiz Foundation in Havana, Cuba, and author of Biography of a Runaway Slave, Barnet explores the mythology and practices of Afro-Cuban religious movements, focusing primarily on the two largest traditions the Regla de Ocha (also known as Santer a) and the Regla de Palo Monte. The Regla de Ocha evolved from the Yoruba traditions of Nigeria, while the Regla de Palo Monte has its roots in the religions of the Congo region. Barnet illuminates the complex pantheon of deities worshiped in each tradition and examines the rituals, music, and dance of each in a clear, straightforward manner. He also compares and contrasts Cuban practices with those in the African homelands of these religions. While he provides a sound history of Afro-Cuban religions and quotes extensively from scholarly sources, Barnet does not include information on the number of adherents practicing these religions in Cuba today. This will be a useful addition to anthropology and religion collections in academic libraries. Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Rather than focusing on the theology of African religions transplanted to Cuba by slaves, the director of Havana's Fernando Ortiz Foundation explores the origins, myths, and the practices of Santer<'i>a (Regla de Ocha) and the Congo religions (Regla de Palo Monte). He also relates his field research in Nigeria on Yoruba traditions. Includes maps of principal sites of these sects in modern Cuba; b&w photos of shrines, deities, devotees, dances, and instruments; and diagrams of magic signs. Translated from the Spanish (). Lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558762558
  • Publisher: Wiener, Markus Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 170
  • Sales rank: 973,395
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

The Role of the Myth in Cuban Culture 1
The Regla de Ocha 15
The Regla de Palo Monte 71
Music and Dance 99
Dances, Firmas and Magic 111
The Supernatural Beings of the Congos 123
In the Land of the Orishas 135
Notes 157
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