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#2668: Images of Voodoo: MOrris explains spirit writing and yard shows


<< Please tell us more about spirit writing and yard shows. I haven't heard 
Nancy Laleau

Yard-show is the generic name now given to Southern and Caribbean home-ground 
spaces (backyards, frontyards, homes etc) in which objects, (often influenced 
by patterns and symbolisms of objects placed on graves) are arranged with 
symbolic meanings ranging from remembrance to protection.  Bottletrees are 
one example in this country,  In Haiti the spaces around peristyles 
includsing the painted walls can be seen as an extreme example of such.  But 
it must remembered that this can also refer to a yard decorated by a 
non-houngan as well.  In Jamaica the balmyard and other Revival yards yield 
up the same information.  At one extremity it can be seen as art as well as 
its own signifier.  In the Southern Us often wheels and fans and other 
symbols of motion are seen.  Thompson has written extensively on this as has 
Grey Gundaker.  The Kongo cosmogram is also frequently seen.

Spirit writing (not a generic term!) is used to refer to a visual language 
often seen in self-taught artists work as a codification of spiritual 
language.  In Haiti it could be seen as a visual expression of 'langage'.  It 
can be as simple as a single mark and as complex as pages of material.  A 
good Haitian example of this are the Vodou passports sometimes seen with just 
marks upon them.  There are self-taught artists in the Southern US who have 
extensively used this form or rather transmitted this form.