Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Sacred and Ceremonial Textiles: Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Chicago, Illinois, 1996. (Minneapolis, 1997).


Copyright 1996 by the author


As the only objects in significant numbers to cross over from the ritual space of the perisil (Vodou temple) into international art markets2, the sequined surfaces of Haitian Vodou flags now reflect tracklights in North American galleries as well as candles burning in darkened sanctuaries. Clotaire Bazile is one of the great contemporary flagmakers and the pivotal artist in the relatively recent metamorphosis of the flag from a primarily ritual form into a commercial art object. 3 He is also a working oungan (Vodou priest) who has conducted services for the lwa (spirits) and private healing consultations for close to thirty years. My doctoral research has focused on the interface between his work as a oungan and his career as a flagmaker, including his transposition of modes of contact with the spirits - and the standards which shape his expression of this privileged access - to the sphere of artistic/commercial production.