Ezili Dantò

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Ezili Dantò is one of the personae of Ezili, the most important and revered female spirit or Lwa of the Vodu religious tradition in Haiti. Other major Ezili personae include Ezili Freda, Grann Ezili, Ezili Zye-Wouj, Ezili Mapyan, and Ezili Lemba. Ezili is known as the “Lwa of Love,” the symbol of cosmic fertility par excellence, mother of the universe, and the giver of children. It is Ezili, indeed, who is responsible for the continuous flow of life.
Ezili Dantò is the Petro manifestation of Ezili. Petro Lwa, which, according to many scholars, developed in Haiti (as opposed to being directly imported from West Africa, where Vodu originated), are characterized by their hot energy and short temper. Thus, although Ezili Freda (the Rada manifestation of Ezili) is generally generous and gracious, if not a bit frivolous and vain, Ezili Dantò, in contrast, can become enraged and threatening when displeased by one of her servants.
Ezili Dantò is commonly represented as a black woman/virgin, carrying on her left arm a black female infant dressed with pink clothes. On her right cheek, one may discern quite clearly two parallel vertical scars. Although some Vodu devotees attribute those facial marks to Ezili Dantò's African origins, others maintain that it was while fighting against the white colonists during the revolutionary war that Ezili Dantò's face was thus wounded. Also, sometimes, Ezili Dantò is represented with a chopped off nose, and this also is believed by many to be the result of a wound suffered in combat.
Ezili Dantò, it is said, is a quite independent woman, the mother of seven children, whom she raises by herself. Her children's fathers include the Lwa Ogu, her most frequently mentioned lover, but also Ti-Jan Petwo. Her color is turquoise blue and her day is Tuesday, the day of Petro Lwa. Her favorite food is pork, while her favorite drink is crème de cacao, a dark brown cacao-based liquor. She is fond of money, clothing, but especially of dolls, and she enjoys receiving them as gifts.

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Further Reading

  • Deren, M. (1972). The Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti. New York: Delta.
  • Desmangles, L. (1994). Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • McCarthy Brown, K. (1991). Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Métraux, A. (1958). Le Vaudou Haitien. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Rigaux, M. (1953). La Tradition Voudoo et Voudoo Haitien (Son Temple, Ses Mystères, Sa Magie). Paris: Editions Niclaus.