Garments of Worship




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Garments of Worship


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Clothing in Santeria tradition and ceremonies is extremely important.  It represents the mystery, complexity and beauty of the Orishas.  Garments play a particularly large role in the consecration of priests and priestesses.

In these rituals, the individual is dressed with eyes closed.  The costumes are ornate and colorful, with many pieces of heavy jewelry and a crown adding to the splendor of the outfit.  Even more symbolic than the attire itself is the surprise and anticipation of its appearance.  Members of the community are not allowed to view the garment until the day of the event.  The initiate is never able to see his or her reflection.  Mirrors in close proximity to the ceremony are covered or hidden.  The clothing is considered to be too powerful for the initiate to witness.

The clothing supposedly transforms the wearer into a new being.  They are able to receive divine energy and have increased power.  Since the garment is seen as an aid to the person in their new life, it is also used to carry them out of it.  Priests and priestesses are buried in their initiation clothing.(IV)

The Santeria outfits are a blend of African and Western styles.  The bright colors and geometric patterns come from tradition Nigerian dress.  The sequined, shiny material and the fit of dresses and shirts are an influence of European culture.

Men's Initiation outfit

Women's outfit for Oya Child's garment for Chango     Men's jacket for Oshun