Friday, 30 January 2009

10.11.08 Mbari (2)

Igwekala (spirit) with dog – is a messenger from the gods who used the dog as an agent (the dog is an ‘aware’ animal and in a lot of mythology). The dog acts as an intermediary between the diviner and the people.

The Evil spirit with cloven hooves – prevents messages between the god of the messages (Igwekala) and the diviner.

Amuma (Lightening) – Amuma is a god with two heads in hands and at knees.
The central chamber was used by the artists to stay in whilst they were building the Mbari, after which time the spirit (Amuma) on the side of the chamber may take on the spirit of a person who dies, and then their role is to protect the shrine [From the field research there may be some confusion here as usually the central chamber is where the main god/goddess resides, in this case Ala, and only the High Priest is allowed into this chamber].

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The artist with these sculptures tell a whole story of how evil spirits can disrupt the "transmission" of messages from God to man.

"Igwekala" is a medium, as well as the dog. Amuma(lightening) is also a medium. It is a medium of Amadioha (the god of thunder)- it can strike to destroy offenders, etc. They are not gods.

In this situation, God (Chukwu)/ any other ala, Uramiriukwa, alaocheala, alaogbaga, etc, is the one with the message, and he is meant to be delivering it through these mediums- then through the diviner, as the major intermediary/mediator- to man.

Amuma does not come into this story by this artist. The figure with head in hand and at knee, is not lightening, but the EVIL SPIRIT who all the time tries to distract the dog, who has the message from Igwekala. Any time the evil spirit succeeds in distracting the dog, then the diviner draws blank in his divination, hence would have no message to give man. This is how you can sometimes get unfruitful divinations

The central chamber in an mbari is never used by artists as a seating place while they worked. It is the dwelling place of the particular god(sometimes in the person of the python). Nobody enters the central chamber except the high priest associated with the particular mbari consult/commune with the god/godess. The artists sit and work around the space between the central chamber and the walls around.

In this Mbari at the Arts Council, Amuma(the spirit, not a god, and not the Lightening either) is depicted in the person of a young lady seated on the central chamber. She oversee this Mbari to ala. It is known that at the conclusion of each mbari, any member of the community who has the slightest facial resemblance to this amuma (the spirit) simply dies as the mbari is revealed. It is a mysterious affair since the artist does not deliberately create this resemblance. He may not even know of the existence of such a person, especially if he is an invited master artist from another village. His hands are meant to be guided.