Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The potomitan (also spelled poteau-mitan or poto-mitan) is the round pillar that stands in the center of the peristyle, that is, that part of the oumfò (Vodou temple) reserved for spiritual ceremonies in Haiti. The potomitan is usually made of concrete and extends, at least in its physical form, from the ground to the ceiling of the peristyle. Etymologically, potomitan is a Creole compound word made up of poto “pillar” and mitan “middle,” and it means “the very strength.” This name should be enough to signal the paramount importance attached to the potomitan by Voduists in Haiti. Indeed, the potomitan is thought of as the axis of the spiritual world. As such, the potomitan serves as a magic conduit between the world of the living and the world of the spirits. More specifically, it is literally through the potomitan that the Vodu spirits, the Lwa ...