Art, Adornment

Afro Brasil Museum

Design and Technology in the slavery period

Design and Technology in the slavery period
During the slavery period in Brazil, enslaved Africans and their descendants were the main responsible for carrying out work that form the basis of Brazilian society as it is today. Since the beginning, Agriculture, livestock and mining were strongly marked by the African hands and then by the Afro-Brazilian hands. Museu Afro Brazil invites you to meet some of our most interesting permanent exhibitions. Here you can see items from our collection that features the large repertoire of technology brought by African people since the beginning of Brazilian colonization.

The first effective way of exploitation of land and people from here occurred through the trade of timber extracted by the Indians and exchanged with the Portuguese for many varied objects and utensils. As the wood was plentiful and had great qualities, it became the main raw material of tools and equipment manufactured in Brazil, in a rural or urban environment. (...)
The use of slaves in woodwork and carpentry duties was a common factor in Colonies. Contractors and slave owners encouraged the learning of those hoping to profit from their leases. This way, many black people became official carpenters and joiners of the Colony.

Have you already reflected on the technologies used to plant, harvest, process cane sugar and coffee, for example? What about the extraction and processing of gold and precious stones? And the complicated clothes worn by men and women in the Age of Empire:: as full of folds and ruffles clothes were washed, dried and ironed? In addition to the human hand, imagine the amount of tools and instruments that were needed in this period of history.

In the image, a press for butter.

Metal pan for sugar loaf production

Poem of the crafts in Mina-Jeje
Guilherme Mansur

Creole Jewelry: african-Brazilian visual communication

The use of ornaments is one of the immediate ways to express cultural values in a symbolic language and easily communicated within the user group. (...)

More than mere adornment, Creole jewelry has historically a socio-economic character and resistance to slavery.
With no access to banks or properties, the jewelry accumulation was a method used by the slaves, black brotherhood and many slaves who had the opportunity to save their earnings or exceeding of sold products to order silver jewelry and other objects that could be used somehow as easy transit goods (...).

Mais do que mero adereço, as joias crioulas possuem historicamente um caráter socioeconômico e de resistência a escravidão. Sem acesso a bancos ou propriedades, o acúmulo de joias foi um método utilizado pelas escravas de ganho, pelas irmandade de negros e por muitos escravos que aproveitavam para economizar seus ganhos ou o excedente dos produtos que vendiam para encomendar joias de prata e outros objetos que serviam de algum modo como bens de fácil trânsito (...).

Creole jewelry is fine example of originality and African and african-Brazilian technological skill. The fact that the indigenous tradition did not rely of metallurgy and metal smelting determined the model of building their jewelry.

(...) The so-called "Creole" culture (developed in Brazil, but with ancestry from different African ethnic groups), originally, had emphasis on production and metalworking technology in the country, leading a strong impact on the design of Brazilian jewelry.

Visit Afro Brazil Museum and see the permanent exhibition "Art, Adournment, Design and Technology in the Slavery Period"

Credits: Story

Text by André Santos

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