Largest Voodoo Doll

On Wednesday, November 17 I was in New Orleans, Louisiana to judge a record that to many conjures up the image of the city itself - the largest voodoo doll.

Louisiana voodoo is a religion that is a synthesis of African religions, Catholocism, and Francophone influence, and originated in the 1700s.  Most people are familiar with the voodoo dolls often seen in movies, in which people stick pins in order to harm an individual.  This is indeed one type of voodoo doll, although the record-setting doll was made of positive energy, with the intent of bringing prosperity to the doll's owners.
The idea to make the doll came from Fusion-io, a computer hardware company based in Utah.  The company hosted a party for attendees at the SC10 conference for supercomputing, and wanted to add a unique touch by building a huge voodoo doll.  Fusion-io didn't want just any large voodoo doll, though - they wanted a world-record setting doll.

Guinness World Records did not previously have a record category for the largest voodoo doll, but we are always on the lookout for fun and exciting new records.  This one definitely fit the bill, so our records team created guidelines stipulating that the doll must be an authentic, scaled-up version of the original item - and at an estimated 20 feet tall, there was no doubt the doll would be large enough to qualify.
In order to meet the criteria for authenticity, Fusion-io contacted one of the most well-known voodoo priestesses in New Orleans - Catherina Williams of Intuitions - to create the doll.  Catherina made the doll out of Spanish moss, which is tradition, and included various oils and blessings full of positive energy.  Once the doll was erected, party guests were invited to pin small denominations onto the doll and make a wish for prosperity.  Catherina also led the guests in a dance around the doll to harness his good energy.

The only thing left to do was physically measure the doll, which I did by standing on a movable platform.  From the base to the tip of his plume, the doll measured an impressive 21 ft 8 in (6.6 m) - a new Guinness World Records achievement!  In addition to his height, the doll had an arm span of 8 ft 6 in (0.5 m).

Congratulations to Fusion-io and Catherina Williams, and best wishes for peace and prosperity from New Orleans!


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