Spirit Lions

Since the 1800s Europeans in Central Africa have reported an association between lions and the spirit of deceased chiefs. In 1832 Gamitto, a Portuguese explorer in the Luangwa Valley noticed the Africans there being able to chase away lions from the animals they had killed and take the meat for themselves. Local Africans explained that this was possible because the lions were benevolent chief’s spirits.

Spirit Lion. Oil and gold leaf on canvas. 60 x 80 cm. (2010)

“The person that the spirit lion comes to is made to feel sick until the job is completed … if the person doers the bidding of the spirit lion he and she usually feels well again and acquires a special skill, such as knowledge of medicine or healing” (Strickland 1995).

Spirit Lion 2. Oil and gold leaf on canvas. 60 x 80cm. (2010)