Carmen Oramas Caballery passed away in October 2014. This was just a bit more than a month after my book came out. She was a pivotal part of the project. Her family misses her. I miss her, too. In the months after her passing, I have pored over a lot of my photographs featuring her and her religious arts collections.
Among my collection of images, these images featuring clothing and textiles are particularly fun. In September 2002, she pulled a suitcase out from her makeshift closet and began pulling all of the textiles out. For the most part, these are not items that she made, but items that members of her community had made for her. There are also a few items for members of her religious family that she had stored away for them.
There is a large collection of paños, squares of coloured fabric, that are not only nice for decorating a temporary altar, but also useful during ritual and dance. The brightly coloured fabrics can help to indicate when an oricha is present—manifest by a santera. Or, alternately, used by a santera to help spiritually clean members present at a drumming, by wiping an individual—particularly one’s head, or where one has aches or pains.
There are two dresses for her oricha, Oya, the divine owner of cemeteries, stormy weather, and rainbows. Carmen was such a dynamic priest, and so captivating during ritual performance, that it was unsurprising that she absolutely treasured this clothing. For her, dancing for Oya, was among one of the most significant aspects of her practices. Mafarefún Oyadina! Mafarefún Egun! Mafarefún oricha!