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February 2023 - January 2024

According to centuries of Yoruba belief, the cosmos is envisioned like a spherical calabash.  

The illustration to the left serves as a diagram used to illustrate the two worlds that make up the universe. These two realms included the Aye and the Orun which make up conjoining halves of the whole. Aye is the Yoruba word for the earthly realm and Orun refers to the spiritual realm. These two are held together by a force, energy, and a catalyst known as Ashe. 

Aye and Orun, with Ashe, created a unified whole, where unity and stability prevail, resulting in well-being on a communal and individual level. This stability is achieved through a continual 
connection between these worlds resulting in people and spirits collaborating with each other. These concepts are made manifest through objects, masquerades, and other ways of making the unseen seen. 

Although the Yoruba have their own long-established tradition regarding the existence and interconnection between the earthly and the spiritual, these ideas are by no means unique to this culture. There are countless numbers of traditional African cultures that use art and ritual to aid in the visualization of paranormal domains, entities, and forces that are beyond the physical world. These numerous traditions also help in the understanding of how the earthly and the spiritual domains interconnect and interact with each other. They may go by different names and have nuanced variations on similar themes and subjects, but they often share a belief in something beyond the physical world.

This exhibit serves as a visual platform to showcase the interweaving of cross-cultural belief systems, beginning with a Yoruba model to shed light on other traditional cultural practices.

This exhibition was created by SCAD graduate, Apollo Hamwey in partial fulfillment of the internship program at the Savannah African Art Museum with direction, guidance, and additional research by Curators, Billie Stultz and Edwin Johnson, PhD.  

Photo Credit: Massimo Rumi

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