Discover the context and the garments used in important religious manifestations with African roots.
Ave Maria, enthroned on your litter, pray for us sinners. Bless this swarthy land. Its rivers, fields, and tranquil nights.
Dalva de Oliveira
In Salvador, at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th centuries, there were groups of Africans from the Jeje culture and other similar cults who were joining Catholic Orders. There was, for example, a Ketu Boa Morte Sisterhood at the beginning of the 19th century at the church in Barroquinha and, around the year 1820, freed Africans from the Jeje culture took the Sisterhood's traditions with them to Cachoeira. On each of the days honoring the Virgin, there is a Mass, festivities, and a procession.
In this excerpt of the video embedded from YouTube and produced by Tradições Brasileiras, it is possible to see the first day of the ritual. On this day, the sisters abstain from eating red meat and palm oil, eating only white meat and other "white" foods, as white represents "dawn" in relation to the Virgin Mary's death. Obviously, there is also a clear link here with the color typically associated with the Candomblé deity, Oxalá.
In this video excerpt embedded from YouTube and produced by Tradições Brasileiras, it is possible to see the second day of ritual, when there is a funeral procession with an image of the Virgin and the sisters wear white with black sashes and carry crosses.
In this video excerpt embedded from YouTube and produced by Tradições Brasileiras, it is possible to see the last day of the ritual. Symbolically, the third day is when the Ascension of the Virgin takes place. The sisters dress up in all their finery, wearing beautiful dresses with red satin sashes and a lot of jewelry. "Caruru" (a local dish made from okra, shrimp, and nuts) is served as part of a special feast and shared among everyone present, and then they dance the Samba de Roda.
For over 200 years the cult has been based mainly on Itaparica Island, where the ancestors appear in clothes kept specifically for them as part of the main annual Baba Olukotun festival. One of the best known figures in the tradition was Mestre (or Master) Didi (1917–2013), who was a priest in the "egungun" cult and a visual artist.
Museu Afro Brasil