Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dasoyí, the Father of Babalú-Ayé

Perhaps the most common road of Babalú-Ayé in Cuba is Dasoyí, who is also known as Asoyí, and Dasojí Kajua. People commonly refer to him as the father of Babalú-Ayé, and really this just suggests his authority and generative power. Together with Nanú, the mother of Babalú, he brought forth all the other roads of the Earth deity. He is commonly imagined reclining against the trunk of a ceiba tree surrounded by his children.  
In some very traditional houses, Dasoyí can be seen resting on a divination tray supported by four skulls. The tray symbolizes the Earth, and seated on top of it, Dasoyí rules the world. The skulls tie him to the ancestors, who are buried in the Earth he rules, and they could stand for the generic dead of the four cardinal directions. However, they also allude to a time when he placed his throne on the skulls of the four vanquished kings of a legendary place called Igoroto. The skulls could represent these kings or royals from the Dahomean dynasty, who banished the Earth deities from the capital city because they could brook no competition for their authority.
Dasoyí sometimes takes a cane because of his age, though I have never seen this. Some lineages mark his ritual broom with a single red parrot to show his authority. He usually takes the caramel-colored beads that Cubans call matipó. After seventeen of these, he takes one jet bead.