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Erzulie Freda Altar Art Bottle, Mater Dolorosa
Erzulie Freda Altar Art Bottle, Mater Dolorosa
Erzulie Freda Altar Art Bottle, Mater Dolorosa

Erzulie Freda Altar Art Bottle, Mater Dolorosa

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This little confection of an altar bottle is densely packed with glitter, faux pearls, lace, velvet ribbon, and "gemstones" and beads made of crystal, glass, and resin. They adorn a glass bottle 4.75" tall and 2" across.

Features a full-color image of Mater Dolorosa, the Mother of Sorrows. If you serve or are even familiar with Erzulie Freda, you have probably seen this print and are aware it's a favorite image associated with this lwa. It has a curious little transnational, multicultural character that makes it a particular favorite of mine.

There's a route in Jerusalem, a sort of pilgrimage path or processional route, called the Via Dolorosa, the road of sorrow or the way of grief, supposedly the same path Christ walked on his way to Golgotha.

Along this path is a church called the Holy Sepulchre. In that church is a shrine with a sculpted statue of the Blessed Mother as Mater Dolorosa (it's not full-sized, but it's more than a bust). It's pretty much a giant nicho on top of a table or stand, or I guess you could call it a cabinet as it has a glass front or door.

Over the years, tons of votive offerings have been left by the faithful in thanks and recognition for the Blessed Mother's care and intercession -- jewels, crowns, necklaces, rings, all those gold and silver hearts, those are all behind the glass with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows. They're a dynamic collection of sacred objects occupying a sacred space, given by Christians from all over the world.

A number of artists have drawn or painted pictures of this shrine with its offerings over the years. One of them was a Mexican artist whose name I haven't had any luck tracking down yet. A Mexican printer of chromolithographs prepared and printed the drawing and, like the version by a French artist that the Jesuits had circulated in Europe before, this print was widely circulated.

Since Erzulie Freda is generally portrayed as the Virgin alone, sans Child, and often as the Mother of Sorrows, those associations would have been in place already. But since she's also associated with luxury and beauty, with jewelry and fine things, this particular image of the Virgin Mary was just ideal and to this day I don't personally think there's a better one, imo.

So that's how this Mexican print of a drawing of a statue donated by the Queen of Portugal in a shrine in a chapel inside a church in Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa ended up on altars for the lwa Erzulie Freda in Haiti (and the Republic of Benin, too, for that matter. I just referenced the Benin iconography in a blog post the other day.)

Anyway, the bottle -- keep your libations for your altar spirits in it, store your incense grains or powders, keep holy water or Florida Water or Pompeia Lotion or an appropriate condition oil in it - use your imagination. (Do not, however, try to wash this bottle. This is folk art for your altar, not something meant to withstand being handled as a kitchen utensil, and please keep it away from children and pets!)

All spiritual and devotional pieces are made with care and intent with respect to traditional origins, lore, and practices, all of which I'm happy to answer questions about. If you have questions about customization or anything else, feel free to message me. I love to customize or custom-finish the altar pieces that have found new homes when I take them down from my altars they're residing on and package them up with prayers and blessings to send to you.

LEGALESE: As required by law, all items are sold as curios to preserve and teach the traditions of folklore and popular religion. I don't sell anything I don't use myself, though, and quite a few customers over the years have sworn by my traditional formulas since I started selling them in 2002.

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