Downtown Salvador

7
Dec
2008

I made a walking tour of the old heart of the town yesterday, known as the Pelourinho. It has an amazing feel, with a somewhat crumbling but beautiful Portuguese colonial architecture that is the oldest in Brazil, dating as far back as the 1500s (I think). The hilly landscape adds to the charm, despite the sweltering heat that had me dripping with sweat most of the way. There are an awesome number of street touts, the most I have seen since leaving India, and a massive number of musical instrument shops. I made stops in several museums and churches, the most amazing of which (for me) was the insanely inspiring carved Baroque wooden interior of the Igreja Sao Francisco (no pictures allowed!) and the most disappointing of which was the Museu Afro-Brasileiro (which had wonderful artifacts but poor organization and poorer description of the development of Candomblé, which I wanted to know more about).

Comments

  1. Kelly says:

    My Religous Studies professor at IUPUI–Dr. Kelly Hayes–is an expert on Afro-Brazilian and Afro-diasporan religions including Candombl√©. It is a facinating religion. I’ll have to dig out my notes.

  2. Stephen says:

    Please do and forward anything of interest, it does seem quite fascinating.

  3. Kelly says:

    I do remember some of the reasons why these religions developed in Brazil, but not in the States. Brazil imported 4 million slaves from from the early 16th C. to the mid 19th C. compared to less than 1 million imports into the USA. Life for a slave was much more brutal in Brazil. Slaves were literally worked to death and replenished with new imports. In the USA, importation of slaves was banned in 1808, in Brazil it was 1850. Slavery ended in the USA in 1863 but didn’t end in Brazil until much later.

    The slaves in the USA were barred from practicing their native religions. They were also barred from using their drums because of fears the drums were being used to send messages of potential uprisings. I believe (and I need to check this out) in Brazil slaves could practice their religion any way they wanted until the Catholic Missionaries came along. At that point their practices were incorporated into the Catholic worship.