Blous

This small cube consists of synthetic indigo or “blous”. In the late 17th and early 18th century, Curaçao had a flourishing indigo industry. The natural “blous” was exported to Europe where it was used as a blue dye, and also to prevent discoloration of white laundry. In Curaçao, people kept and spread the African tradition surrounding “blous”, and used it for protection against evil. It is an example of the everyday spirituality that is present on the island. For centuries the colonizers and the church tried to ban these rituals. Today, younger generations show renewed interest in spiritual traditions and see them as meaningful elements of their identity.

Listen to the podcast

2:27 min

"My mother taught me this tradition, I will pass it on to my children and I hope it will live on for generations to come"

- Tiziana Penso

My name is Tiziana Penso. I’m 29 years old and I was born in Curaçao. When I think about blous I think about my family tradition. I know that blous was used originally to wash clothes with but my family didn’t use it that way. We use it to get rid of bad energy, jealousy, negative things that people can attract without knowing. Blous was used on me actually when I was a baby. When a baby is born and the parents go to a party or some other event where they know that a lot of people will be looking at the baby they use blous on the soles of the baby’s feet or on the back of its head. When you get back home you bathe your baby and you use a little bit of blous in the bathing water. That way you get rid of the negative energy or ‘oyada’ as we call it – anything that can be interpreted as negative for the child. And this is a tradition that I learned from my elders who learned it from their parents and from the generations before. My mother taught me this tradition, I will pass it on to my children and I hope it will live on for generations to come.