haitian vodou flags

 maxon scylla voudo flag 28" X 34" custom framed $1000

Maxon Scylla photo courtesy of Indigo Arts

A drapo Vodou is a handmade flag, typically embroidered and decorated with beads and sequins. Although flags may have been made in West Africa before the arrival of Europeans, the flags widely used there by 1600 were derived from European flags. They were used as symbols of ethnic, military or religious allegiance. The drapo Vodou also drew on Yoruba beadwork, Catholic vestments and Masonic aprons. In the 19th century and early 20th century most drapo Vodou were made from one or two colored fabric pieces decorated with embroidery, metal bangles and glass beads, with an image of the lwa made of shiny fabrics appliquéd to the cloth using techniques still followed in West Africa. Flags and banners used in the 21st century in rural areas often still have stylistically simple designs, in part due to the high cost of decorative material.

With the older flags the background field that frames the image was usually decorated with widely spaced sequins or beads. Modern flag makers often completely cover the fabric of the field with sparkling sequins of one color, or with intricate geometrical patterns. Borders, which were either simple or did not exist on early drapo Vodou, have evolved into highly elaborate patterns. The use of sequins in modern drapos dates to 1940, when Joseph Fortine saw a troupe of Afro-Brazilian samba dancers wearing sequin costumes in a Carnival parade. Fortine began to decorate the costumes of Rara band players with sequins, and in 1943 made a drapo Vodou for damballa from a burlap coffee sack which he stretched on a wooden frame. He made the image from sequin lines on a satin background, and added random sequins surrounding the image. Fortine taught his techniques to sequin artists such as Edgard Jean Louis, Sylva Joseph, Clotaire Bazile, and Yves Telemak. The youngest of these, Telemak, was the first to sign his work.

There are two kinds of drapo Vodou. The drapo servis are made for ceremonial use, and art flags are made for sale.

george valris voudo flag 36" X 41" $1000 ON EBAY

George Varris