Orisha figure of Osain
Cuban artist Filiberto Mora's The Rhythm of the Saints exhibition at Kelvingrove in 2001, comprised over forty papier mache deities of the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion. Glasgow Museums purchased five pairs of these Orishas in 2002.
They are made of flour-paste, papier mache and clay, modelled over a wire mesh frame and painted with gloss paints. Santeria developed out of the religion of the Nigerian Yoruba peoples who were brought to the Caribbean through the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. In Cuba the slaves' traditional beliefs were hidden behind a façade of Catholicism and the Orishas were initially represented by various saints. The figures are therefore in pairs consisting of a Yoruba deity and its Catholic saint counterpart. Each Orisha has a special song and drum pattern to call him or her to ceremonials rituals known as bembés.
The Orisha represented here is Osain, ruler of nature and god of the forests, wild plants and healing. He has only one arm, one leg, one eye, one tiny ear for hearing and a huge ear that hears nothing a price he paid for his selfishness in trying to hoard all of the forest’s healing herbs. He keeps his medicinal herbs in the gourd he is carrying. Osain is associated with San Antonio de Abad.