Saturday, February 14, 2009

Creole Cottage 4: About Marie Laveau and the cottage

Today we'll take a little break from building so you can meet the owner of the house. I probably should have posted this first, but better late than not at all.

Marie Laveau (1802-1881) is legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense. She is known for her kindness and charity in nursing yellow fever victims, ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church as well as her role in the voodoo community in New Orleans. She has always held my interest.

When I saw the Adams, it occurred to me that a combination of two of the kits would make the perfect two-room Creole cottage with only minor bashing.
The cottage in New Orleans’s French Quarter was built by Marie’s grandmother in the late 1700s. It is where Marie was born, reared 15 children, was widowed, and died. The parlor and Marie’s bedroom make up the cottage; kitchen, additional bedrooms, etc., are in separate buildings at the back of the lot. The date is about 1860; the Civil War has not yet begun.

Marie (also known as the Widow Paris) and her daughter, Marie Philoméne Glapion, are at home awaiting a visit from the beautiful Sophia, a free woman of color, who is coming to consult Marie on a matter of the heart. Marie is holding two symbols of her beliefs -- a rosary and a red gris-gris bag filled with herbs and charms.

All three dolls were made and dressed by Gina Gagnon of Lone Wolf Miniature Creations <>, but I changed out Marie’s original shawl and tignon (head wrap) with fabric that better suited the scene.

Bringing Marie Laveau’s house to life has given me great pleasure. As I researched the details, I came to appreciate her complicated life and the times in which she lived. Although her history in print and on the internet is filled with inaccuracies and myth, an incredibly well researched and recently published book provided solid guidance. A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau by Carolyn Morrow Long (University Press of Florida, 2006).

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