Sensuous Knowledge by Minna Salami

Sensuous Knowledge by Minna Salami

Author:Minna Salami
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2020-02-14T00:00:00+00:00

Of Womanhood

Waxing Gibbous

Blue is a feminine color in Africa.

According to the ancient myths, this is because Goddess Asi of the Foya Kamara in modern-day Sierra Leone yearned to possess the blue color of the sky, the lakes, and the birds of paradise, whose feathers were dyed so brightly blue she had to squint to look at them. One day, despite the consequences of using her powers for personal yearnings, Asi prepared a ritual so that the spirits would grant her the sublime color that occupied her thoughts.

She tucked her newborn baby into a white lappa cloth, strapped her around her back, and walked down to the banks of the River Niger to prepare a fire. Once the flames danced, Asi took off the lappa and lay her daughter some distance away from the heat. She began the ritual, chanting and dancing in the shape of the flames. Eventually, the fire stilled down, and so did Asi. When all that remained were ashes, Asi rubbed her body with the dust. She knew that her request was received. All she needed to do was to wait for the color blue to appear to her in some special manner. She decided to return the next day.

Asi went to pick up her baby, but the lappa she had been ensconced in was empty. All that remained under the rectangular piece of white cloth was the pillow of leaves she had gathered from the vines to cushion the child. Asi let out a long wail, realizing at once that the gods had punished her for the ritual by taking her baby away. She held the leaves against her chest and sobbed feverishly, which covered her body in a mix of ashes, leaves, and salty tears.

Once she began to awaken to reality, Asi wiped the mucky liquid off her body with the lappa cloth. It was then that she saw a deep blue stain appear on the fabric. That was how Asi discovered that when you mix indigo leaves with salt, liquid, and ashes, it produces the color blue. She had paid a heavy price for the discovery.

“Please give me my baby back!” Asi screamed. The spirits responded, “You will conceive a different baby with the same soul, but on one condition.” Asi listened as the spirits said, “You may only share the knowledge of how to extract the color blue from the indigo plant with women.”

First Quarter

From the River Niger to the River Nile, women were the proprietors of the color blue in Africa. Like Goddess Asi, the people of Kemet, or ancient Egypt, coveted the color blue so much that they went on dangerous expeditions to the Sinai and the Sar-i Sang mines in Afghanistan, home of the lapis lazuli stone, to acquire some of the gold-freckled blue stone, which they called khesbedj.

Khesbedj was used to make jewelry, decorations, and cosmetics. It resembled a starry night sky, so it was also used to honor the sky goddess Nut (pronounced “Newht”). In almost all ancient cultures, sky gods are male while earth goddesses are female.


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