Home - Black Gods in Exile

Photos by Pierre Verger and Mario Cravo Neto



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An Afro-Brazilian religion with different subgroups, strongly influenced by members of the Yoruba *), abducted in great number in the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century, and taken from the Bay of Benin (see map) to Brazil. Owing to the absence of written texts, the basic laws and legends were passed on through ceremonies and orally-conveyed myths.

In the religious communities of the places of worship, the terreiros *), priestesses (in greater number) and priests preside: "Ialorixá" or "Mãe de Santo" (Holy Mother) and "Babalorixá" or "Pai de Santo" (Holy Father).

The worshipped deities, the Orixás or Orishas *), originally come from Africa. That many Orixás are associated with Catholic saints stems from originally needing to assume a protective disguise to escape persecution by the colonial powers, which saw the religious beliefs of African slaves as being "pagan". Into the 1970s, Candomblé was still forbidden in Brazil.

Nowadays the religion is enormously popular. Among those who publicly profess their faith to it are many well-known artists, intellectuals, politicians, economic leaders, etc.

Photos and texts:  >> Candomblé

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See also:

Candomblé - photo section
with quotes by R. Bastide
and P. Verger

Ethnography & Photography
Pierre Verger

P. Verger's last interview
Gilberto Gil & Pierre Verger

Introduction catalog
M. Metzner & M.M. Thoss