Thursday, May 7, 2009


In the Yorùbá nation of Oyó in West Africa, Xangô is the fourth Alafin supreme king out of fourteen others who ruled for over four decades. His name is also known as Shango, Ṣàngó, or Changó in different regions. Xangô had a very fanciful notion and a very capricious nature. He was capture in moment of magic and used his power to his own benefit and not anyone else. He unintentionally cast down the lightning strikes on his own village causing the death of his own village members, wives, and even his own family. Some believe that after this legend, Xangô overwhelmed with grief, left his kingdom; while others believe that he had gotten kicked out of the kingdom. After not being able to rule anymore, Xangô killed himself. After Xangô realizing how people in the kingdom would make fun of him after his death, the kingdom then, begun to experience extremely severe as well as violent weathers. This type of attitude made those who supported Xangô very angry and not very pleased. After his death, he was deified and elevated into the statue to becaome one of the gods or Orishas as better known. The legend of Xangô is being reinforced every time the stones that are laid beneath the topsoil are revealed. Even though many might say that this story never happened, there is a high possibility that it existed in the ancient Yoruba history. According to the Yorùbá mythology, the most famous god of all was Xangô. He is recognized as the sky father, god of thunder and as one of the ancestor of Yoruba. Xangô rules over lightning, thunder, fire, justice, the drums, and dance. He had such a considerable temper that when he is in action, he will make every one witness the quickness with which lightning makes short work of a tree or a fire rage through an area.

Xangô is considered the owner of the sacred batá. Batá are a set of three double-headed, hourglass-shaped drums. The largest iyá, is the master drum. The iyá calls the rhythms in, calls changes and conversations. Itótele is the drum that follows next in size. Itótele means to follow completely. It follows the direction of the iyá answering the conversation calls and the rhythm changes. The smallest drum is the okónkolo, sometimes referred to as the Omele, for the most part; it plays ostinato patterns as well as changing rhythms from the calls of the iyá. A Bembe is an Afro-Cuban rhythm used in Santeria rites to evoke different Orishas of the Yoruban pantheon.

The Bembe Xangô honors ofcourse, Xangô. This type of rhythm can be played at many different tempos and still sound wonderful. Most musical ideas must be played in a narrow range of tempos; usually a 30 or 40 beat range to sound their best. If you play them too slow or too fast, they lose their savor. Bembe Shango has a great sound when you play it at 70 beats a minute and equally amazing at 600 bpm, nearly a factor of 10 ranges of tempos. It changes its character and sounds like a different rhythm at the different tempos. In usual performance, it seems to be performed at a tempo between 120 and 200 bpm. The type of clothing that Xangô wear was a skirt, but he would always have pants underneath.
Xangô ritual implement is represented by a double axe on his head, which shows the god of thunder. The double axe has also represented how he was born with war upon his head as well as they represent his really quick temper. He also contains six eyes as well as three heads. His symbolic animal is the ram. His colors were red and white with with gold adornment on his attire. It was regarded as being holy. In Brazil, Xangô is respected as a god of thunder and weather by the Umbandists. In Santeria, Xangô (Chango) is very similar to the Catholic saint named St. Barbara. He recognizes himself with the numbers four and six as well as Friday as his lucky day. Xangô also symbolizes passion, masculine vigor, and political aptitude. Xangô represents all these three things and more because he was an extremely hot blooded as well as a strong-genetic Orisha that loved all the pleasures of the world: dance, drumming, women, songs and eating. The relationship between Xangô and the sacred batá drums was detailed in the odu Ejila Sebora. It was seen as a friendship since Xangô childhood; therefore, he wuld sacrifies a batá as an arrangement for wealth and success and it would be achieved. “That is why the batá cannot leave Xangô.” If you were to Offer Xangô food, it had to be his favorite. Amalá was made out of cornmeal and palm oil, okra, bananas, red apples, red table wine, and bitter kola nut. He was so peaky that he did not accept rum or cigars as any kind of offering. by: Katerin Canales

1 comment:

  1. In this entry you have conflated Densu with Xangó there at the end. I don't know how you managed that, because you do not have a bibliography nor any links in your entry. Be aware that Umbanda is *barely* Candomblé and often has conceptually different definitions of orixás, right down to physical aspects. I wish you had sources...