Encounter with the invisible world
Unique world collection
Everyday from 2 pm to 6 pm
Groups : 9 am-9 pm, booking required.
The Château Vodou is a privately-owned and charity-run museum boasting the largest collection of western-African vodou objects in the world. To add to the visitor’s delight, the museum’s permanent collection is on display in a gloriously original water tower dating back to 1878.
Far from the clichés, Vodou is first and foremost a religion originating in West-Africa. It embraces a large spectrum of practices and beliefs, the aim being to maintain harmony between the visible and the invisible worlds. It provides a framework for key moments in life and seeks to cure sickness.
This is but a mere introduction, there is so much more to tell! Come and visit us in Strasbourg and discover Hebieso (the god of thunder), Mami Wata (the goddess of the ocean), Aguin (the spirit of the savanna) and all the other deities of the vodou pantheon.
* Suitable for a younger audience
The Strasbourg Château Vodou Museum offers a surprising experience
• Visitors discover a world of wonder
• They are introduced to a fascinating, living tradition through a collection of remarkable artefacts
The term “Vodou” is spelled “Vodoun” in Benin, “Vaudou” in Haiti, and “Voodoo” in Louisiana, where it is still practised. These different names reflect the different traditions that have developed locally. Today, specialists believe there are an estimated 200 million practitioners of Vodou worldwide, taking into account all the various traditions.
TEMPORARY EXHIBITION : DECEMBER 2022 – OCTOBER 2023
GÈLÈDÈ MASKS, THE POWER OF THE MOTHERS
Don’t forget to touch the ground with your fingertips if you hear about the Iyami osoronga.
The ones who are named “our Mothers” in Yoruba.
The ones who are celebrated by the tradition of the Gèlèdè.
They are feared and respected because they possess a sacred power, the power of “ashè”1.
They have the a reputation of for transforming themselves into birds and for gathering at night.
They are old women or mothers who can no longer conceive and who hold the secret of life.
The Gèlèdè mask ceremonies have their roots in Kétou, Benin. They are performed in on the public square place in order to protect themselves the community from the wrath of the “Mothers” and to gain their favor. They aim at regulating the life of the society, transmitting messages and solving problems: epidemics, droughts, famines…
They are the guarantors of morals and traditions by sending messages to the orishas² or the ancestors.
The cult is divided between nighttime festivities and daytime ceremonies: some are satirical, others are more solemn or moving. These impressive costumes, worn by excellent dancers, are made up of fabric outfits and carved wooden headdresses. Accompanied by musicians and singers, they have become major players in the cohesion of communities practicing Vodoun.
The wooden piece worn on the head shows displays colorful narrative scenes, sometimes articulated with animals or humans. While the men put on and give life to the costumes, it is the women who pull the strings of the ceremonies are pulled by women.
A Yoruba proverb states that “the eyes that have seen the Gèlèdè have seen the ultimate spectacle”. It has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO since 2008.
The Château Vodou welcomes you to a colorful and life lively exhibition of masks from the Arbogast collection.
Adeline Beck, curator