Santiago Rodríguez(Havana, 1955)

When Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal entered the artistic scene in the mid-1980s, the knowledge of Ifá began gradually to move beyond the esoteric domain, where it had remained under the sole control of the babalawos from way back, and started to circulate within the more liberal artistic circles. The knowledge of Ifá became the subject of public exhibits and art criticism being reproduced in catalogues and magazines, thereby becoming part of the art market. Something similar happened with Santería, Palo Monte and Abakuá.


This expressive and synthetic work refers to a short but important ceremony of Ifá where the spirits of our family’s ancestors are fed. The ceremony consists in the sacrifice of an animal, from which some drops of blood are allowed to fall on the big toe of the right foot if the offering is made to a male ancestor, and on the left if made to a female ancestor. The big toe (iponrí, in Yoruba language) is the point of communication of our body with the ancestors. The work seems to point at the importance of remembering those who preceded us, and whose spirits always accompany us. The importance of the dead is so great in Ifá and in Regla de Ocha that they are the first to receive offerings and sacrifices before starting any ceremony. It is usual to hear a Yoruba sentence "Ikú lo bi osha" in religious Afro-Cuban spaces, meaning “the dead gives birth to the saint”.

Year: 2009
Technique: Mixed media on cardboard
Size: 112 x 76 cm

Theme: religion ritual