From Simple to Complex Overnight

Yesterday’s utterly simple little offering on the beach was replaced this morning by a much more complex one, beautiful in a way, too:

I haven’t seen one quilte like it.   The overall layout of the ‘installation’ is the upper left hand pic, then the other sections show different parts of the whole arrangement.  All the usual elements are there in abundance, including flowers, candles, the dead chook (as usual, the head pointing east, towards the sea) various grains of rice and corn, fruit, plus the white round things are small meringues; however there’s no fabric (but it might be hidden)   Imanja, goddess of the sea, is vain (there’s a tiny little green plastic comb sticking out of the top of one of the yellow plums) and she likes pretty things, flowers, ribbons, beads and anything blue or shiny – I couldn’t see anything shiny, but there’s plenty of blue. 

Elsewhere this morning we came across a couple of other placements of much more basic offerings, all chickens, several of which were still in plastic bags.  They’d all been beheaded and the heads were nowhere to be seen.  These felt rather joyless, lacking the careful exhuberance of the offering above,  and so possibly sinister, rather like the goat legs and heads I found grouped on the beach last year.  This is the first time I’ve seen this exact style, too.  They were all aligned with tops of necks pointing out to sea/east.

As a friend we met for coffee later reminded me, although these things can be supplications for help of some kind,  or give thanks, some of these things contain voodoo spells for harming someone.  He married a Brasilian, has seen a lot of it up there, and he personally finds it rather creepy. I just think it is fascinating; but then on the other hand I don’t expect to be put under its influence any time, either.   Mind you, I not disturb even as much as a grain of corn or a chicken feather whenever I observe one, just in case…    I would like to find an impartial expert sometime to help me ‘read’ them, know which ones are joyful and which ones are something else…. and in the meantime I will continue to photograph the ones I come across, and not presume anything from what I see.  My regular readers will already know these can be found on the shore any time of year,  but I am expecting to see more important/interesting ones over the next few weeks, leading up to Imanja’s birthday on feb 2nd.   A particular beach closer to the city is where the most amazing ceremonials and boat launchings reportedly take place on feb 2nd, and I am planning to go along there this year and check that out.

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