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Mawu-Lisa and the Shape of the Universe


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(Fon/Benin)

In the sky pantheon, Mawu, the female, is the moon; Lisa, the male, is the sun. Mawu is a dualistic figure, one side of its body being female, with eyes forming the moon, and bearing the name of Mawu, “body divided.” The other portion is male: the eyes are the sun, the name is Lisa. The part of the androgynous figure that is Mawu directs the night, the portion named Lisa has charge of the day.

The universe is a sphere divided in two, one half fitting on top of the other. They join at the horizon. The earth is on the plane that separates the two halves, the top half of which is the sky. This sphere is encased in a larger sphere, with water between them, the smaller sphere floating in the larger one. The rains and the sea come from these waters. See also: Gu, Heviosio, Lisa, Nana-Buluku, Sagbata, Sogbo.

Subjects: Religion


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