Definition. / by Romain Vennekens

bai people china

In Latin, devotus means "devoted to, consecrated to" and devotio means "devotion, affection to someone". 

The object of devotion concerns the poor and the rich, as it can be of silver or wood, it doesn't affect its power. It is, by its very nature, linked to the life of men. 

The object is getting interesting only if used as a support for a practice. It then becomes a physical element to an immaterial belief, a visible support for something invisible. The object acts as a link between those two polarities. 

Those objects are then used to touch the sensibility of the believer. Once one believes the object to be sacred, it can protect from diseases, prevents misfortune or grant special favours.

They can be centuries old. They crystallise the technical and aesthetic choices of a culture and express a certain way to perceive the world. They are testimonies of men lives, recollections of a particular civilisation. 

The different practices of devotion, superstition and even sometimes of magical powers are still going strong today: devotion to relics, to places, to statues, objects, images, pilgrimages,...  In many ways, those practices persist and coexist even among those who are comfortable in our rational societies.