Spirits are unknown as a whole. Regardless of what mass culture has made out of them, these creatures achieve life beyond their own stigma, thanks to Marianne Lehmann, a former Swiss diplomat who made her home in Port au Prince, Haiti, where she collected about 2,000 examples of Haitian sacred art over a twenty year period; and her curatorial work that goes beyond a simple collection.
This is a gesture of connection and respect in which tradition becomes a legacy.
“They thus share all their faults, their bad character, everything in between that makes them closer to the men,” said Lehmann.
“These divinities would live, therefore, among men… so to speak.”
All photographs: De Gris’ archive.
The savoir-faire of the natural horn is part of the tortoiseshell’s legacy. The Haitian artisans of the horn jewels -in every De Gris bag- are the fruit of the evolution of the craftsmanship in times of increased ecological conscience.
Letf: Vintage Eretmochelys imbricata tortoise shell photographed in Haiti by De Gris. Right: Natural Zebu Horn by Charles Negre.