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The making of an ashó Shangó

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

Todo niño nace con el pan debajo del brazo,” or “a child is born with a loaf of bread under his arm,” this is a Spanish food idiom I learned from my grandmother.

Abuela Gloria was fond of using expressions to encapsulate life’s lessons. My grandmother had blessed hands. She was a wonderful cook and loved to feed the extended family. Her table never lacked a huge pot of stew or soup. She was the fastest and most accurate typist I had ever seen. Her hands were never idle, and there was always an arts and crafts project on the works.

The idiom and its lesson are more important now as a parent and godparent. I like to stress that we all have gifts that will allow us to survive and strive in this world. Likewise, each olorisha has blessings and talents, which can be seen as the proverbial “loaf of bread” given by Olofi. They are the birthright of olorishas for the development of their spiritual and physical life. It is up to the individual to express them and hon them as they learn to live life following their itá.

Recently, I was blessed to use one of my skills to help in the process of crowning a son of Shangó. Having creative latitude in interpreting an Orisha and reflecting its lore and attributes is always a great responsibility as well as an honor. Some seamstresses and tailors may approach sewing garments for the orisha as a business, but I see it as a spiritual process.

Red gingham shirt for an iyawo Shango
The "Lunch" shirt.

I don’t sew because I need to, but because I want to. Thus, part of my ashé as olorisha becomes a legacy sewn into the clothes for those I select to create a garment. Ashó Orisha is not just an expression of tradition. For me, it is an armor build with skills, prayers, and ashé.

In the case of the now Iyawó Shangó, the outfit captures Shangó’s regal nature and also the zest for life and fire, which are part of the iyawó’s personality. Some people will argue that who the person was is not important and that all is about to change. However, change we may be after kariosha, we are not magically transformed; we are still walking on the same flesh suit we were before, just with internal alterations which eventually may manifest in the flesh.

White dashiki for iyawo Shango
Shirt work for dinner on Middle Day

It is important to say that I felt Oshún’s sweetness and presence as I worked while creating the gala clothes. Perhaps it was prescience, intuition, or ashé manifesting, but I felt that Oshún would manifest as his orisha mother, and so she was. It is not the first time synchronicities happen as I work on ashó orisha; this is why the process is one I relish and not just a transaction.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the garments. I wished you could have seen the Iyawó. However, as I told him during the Middle Day, it is more important to behold oneself in the eyes of each person that approached the throne and looked at him with wonder and admiration, as each glance is worth a thousand photos.


Oní Yemayá Ashabá

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