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My daddy's Haitian bell

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Posted 2 years ago

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postkatrin…
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(to those of you who've seen this before, I had to change accounts, but it's me and I'm back)

No mystery - I think I know all there is to know about this bell.?My daddy, who was born and raised in Haiti, was exploring the foothills above Port-au-Prince with a school friend in 1942 or 43... they were 11 or 12... and they found a cave that was supposed to have a bunch of hidden voodoo ritual stuff in it, kept away from official eyes since voodoo had since become outlawed. Deep in the cave, they found a gunny sack with ouangas (dolls made of rags to stick pins into), a bayonet, a mustache cup, and this bell. The bell is all my grandmother would let him keep.?Around it in bronze are the Latin words, "PETRVS GHEINEVS ME FECIT 1583", which means Peter of Ghent made me in 1583. I googled Peter Ghent and found a family of Belgian bronze carillon bell makers that started in the early 1500s. Famous all over Europe, many of their bells are still up in Europe's church towers. Spain conquered the Netherlands for 150 years in the mid 1500s, and as a point of prestige would have had all their church bells made there. While they were at it, I guess, they had their small hand bells made for their ships' explorations of the New World... Central and South America, and the Caribbean islands. I can just see a line of relay guys spread out across the hills and valleys ringing their bells to tell the people who were exploring deep into the island's interior that the captain wanted them back at the ship, and one of them dropping it down into the mouth of a cave.?The wooden handle probably broke off within only a few years of use, and it was repaired using a ship's nail, melted and bent.?This bell was one of only two things my dad, who had been evacuated to San Antonio, asked me to break into his condo for before the Katrina looters got to it.
Bronze, about 8", clapper still in, deeply resonant and LOUD.

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  1. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I'll love it again, it's an amazing story & welcome to CW.

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