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Passport to Paradise: Sufi Arts of Senegal and Beyond (working title) is a traveling exhibition, major book, this website, and an educational program organized by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History of the University of California at Los Angeles. The Mouride (Murid) Way is a Senegalese Muslim movement based upon the teachings of Sheikh Amadu Bamba, a saint (wali Allah, "friend of God") who lived from 1853 to 1927. Mourides are Sufis—that is, they follow deeply mystical paths of Islam as they seek to perfect their lives through divine knowledge. Mourides have developed an especially vibrant visual culture in Senegal, the United States, and in cities around the world where they now live. Mourides visualize Islam through wall murals, paintings on glass and canvas, lithographs, and many other media depicting Amadu Bamba and his closest family and followers. The sacred images convey the saint’s blessing, called baraka: He is present in and accessible through his image, and those who carry his portrait and adhere to his moral teachings possess a "passport to Paradise." As world music superstar Youssou N’Dour sings on his CD "The Guide (Wommat)" (1994, Sony Music), "My strong faith in you makes me survive in this crazy world. Now I can go anywhere, ’cause I know you’ll be there."

You are looking at details from wall murals in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, painted by an artist nicknamed "Papisto Boy" (see his Artist Portrait). Papisto’s paintings greet visitors entering the Passport to Paradise exhibition. Papisto paints portraits and complex montages that he considers both history and poetry. Amadu Bamba’s image dominates and blesses Papisto’s murals. Other subjects include sons of the saint, heroes of colonial resistance like Almamy Samory Turé, Kwame Nkrumah, and Ché Guevara, and "messengers" of God’s Word, such as Martin Luther King. Contemporary political figures like Bill Clinton and Charles De Gaulle find a place in Papisto’s murals, as do musicians like Bob Marley and Chiekh Lô. People from Papisto's neighborhood gather before his mural to sing sacred songs before going to work. Passport to Paradise will explain how artists like Papisto are creating a new global identity for Mourides.


--------------Introduction : Rise of Islam : Life of a Saint : Mass Produced Imagery : Mouride Work Ethic
---Devotional Sanctum : Healing Prayers : Architecture : Apostles : Sainted Women : Global Networks : Pilgrimage