Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Hi All,
Here's a new candlestick doll, titled: "The VOODOO QUEEN of NEW ORLEANS--MARIE LAVEAU".

I knew very little about Marie Laveau, but after watching "American Horror Story- the Coven", with the fabulous Angela Basset giving an over-the-top performance of Mistress Laveau, I became curious and started doing some research on her.
Angela Basset as Marie Laveau in "The Coven"

Technically, Marie wasn't a "witch". And, she wasn't "dark" (well, mostly). But, she was know to cast some evil spells with her voodoo (or, so people thought-- nothing based in fact survives to tell if Marie's voodoo actually worked).

Marie Laveau was born a free woman of color around 1800 in Louisiana. (Her actual birth date is unknown). She was classified as "mulatto", as her parents were of French, African, & Native American origin. Marie was raised catholic, and continued to be a devout catholic all her life, even though she practiced the art of Voodoo. She was described as a "striking woman with sharp features, curly black hair, & black eyes". She also had a flair for the dramatics.  She was known to have a pet snake named "Zombie", after an African god.

She was a hairdresser by trade, catering to the rich white woman of New Orleans. She officially became the "Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" around 1820.

Marie organized large voodoo rituals that were quite dramatic, including brewing concoctions of animal parts, ritual readings, dancing to tribal drums, and sexual orgies. All this "forbidden decadence" stirred up interest in the white population. So, Marie started charging admission for the white folk to watch. It became fashionable for the white upper class to go to her for readings. As her popularity increased, politicians would pay her as much as $1,000 to help them win elections.

These are portraits of Marie Laveau found on Google. I do not know if these were painted while she was alive, or after her death. As you can see, there are many discrepancies over how she looked, even her skin color!:

I made sure to include the 2 things the paintings had in common - the turban & the shawl. I fashioned my Marie doll mostly from the last portrait (with the rooster). I liked that she is holding a red "potion pouch", so I included that:

Here's a close up of her jewelry:

I wanted to add as many voodoo-related items as I could. Here are little voodoo dolls I made, strung together with beads, skulls & coins to make the hanging beaded fringe:

Marie held her title of "Voodoo Queen" until she retired in 1850. Her daughter, also named Marie Laveau (Marie-II), took over the title until her death in 1890. It's reported she looked very much like her mother- same eyes & features. So much so, that many people didn't realize it was her daughter, and assumed Marie-I was still practicing voodoo.

Marie-I died in 1880. Here tomb is in the New Orleans cemetery, where it is richly decorated yearly by her many fans.

Beyond the basic facts, not much is know for certain of Marie Laveau. (Even some of those facts are flimsy, as record-keeping was rather casual in the 1800's for people of color.) Over the years, stories of Marie became legendary. And, like most legends, truth and fiction overlapped. It's also hard to separate which Marie is referred to in these stories, as the two Maries became one woman in the re-telling of her tales.

What is known about Marie Laveau is she was a strong & independent woman of color who earned the respect (and sometimes fear) of an entire city,

This is the only photograph credited to Marie that I could find (or, it might be her daughter, Marie-II)
Have fun until next time!


Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Love the doll and THANK you for the including information about the woman that inspired you to create her. Your talent is amazing.

Cloth-A-Dollies said...

Great doll Arley and interesting history as well.

Arley said...

Thanks Ladies! I really enjoyed learning about her, and I'm glad you did too!