Saturday, September 13, 2014
I don't collect folk art. It collects me. This female figure is called a water mumma in Jamaica, also known as Mama Erzuli in Haiti. In the southern U.S. various native tribes celebrated the power of the mermaid. The Biloxi and Pascagoula people considered her to be a deity. They say you can still hear her singing in the Bay of Biloxi at midnight on Christmas Eve. It is believed that you can gain her assistance if you drop a silver cross into the water. In Jamaica, water mumma watches over natural springs. She is said to have gold hair and her offspring travel around her in a gyre or a silver circle of small fishes. She holds a golden comb in her hand and that is her power. You must be careful not to look her in the eye because people who do that become crazy. This particular water mumma was carved by Uton "Ernie" Hinds from Oracabessa. She stands fifteen inches high. Thanks to Mariah Fox for the "Jamaican barrel painting" behind the mermaid. Some viewers may remember Ernie as "Tall T" in the novel, The Jacob Ladder. Others may actually know him from our Jamaican summer school at Blue Harbour, Port Maria, St. Mary, JA. Ernie sent us this mermaid last week and she now is on a stand in front of the big fish tank in our living room. We know she likes it there. I do not look directly into her eyes out of respect. I am already crazy and don't need any more help in that direction.