The Role of Disorder and Transformation in Brazilian Art and Culture

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The Role of Disorder and Transformation in Brazilian Art and Culture
Detail of Figure 2 Tarsila do Amaral. A Negra (The Black Woman), 1923.
Oil on canvas, 100 x 81.3 cm. Collection of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da
Universidade de São Paulo
66 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
Tricksters in The New World: The Role of
Disorder and Transformation in Brazilian
Art and Culture
Tania Costa Tribe
I
n a critical review of the work of the Brazilian sculptor Mario Cravo Jr, the
novelist Jorge Amado, a fellow Bahian,1 drew a direct parallel between Cravo’s
artistic activities and Exu, the African-Brazilian trickster spirit of Nagô
(Yoruba) origin:
‘In the forge of hell, in the hands of the last Exu of Bahia, wood, stone and
iron become flowers, water, poetry, a profound life lived to the full. Through a
caprice of the gods, a force of nature has been released in Bahia: Mario Cravo,
the sculptor.’2 The fact that Jorge Amado decided to express his understanding
of Cravo’s ability in terms of Exu — a Brazilian spirit (orixá) of West African
origin — warrants further examination. Among members of African-Brazilian
religious groups the concept of Exu evokes the dynamic principle of the West
African trickster. It provides active metaphors which enable them to make sense
of changes, transformations and disorder in their everyday experience. Fashioned
within a national and international context of non-religious art, Mario Cravo’s
many portrayals of Exu functioned as refined vehicles through which the sculptor
visually expressed his very personal responses to life and nature:
‘(...) Once again we are before a world of vegetable matter free from the trends
of passing fashion and the aggravated voice of ecology. It is our belief that art
should represent for man, not a mere and repetitious return to nature, as if
he were constantly obliged to police and rebuke and continually focus his attention upon his natural surroundings, but an inclusion of the technological
advances of the modern world which, for better or for worse have brought us
to our present state. Nature in Brazil should indeed remain a constant form
of inspiration, the animal, vegetable and mineral world that surrounds us in
all its exuberance, a source of infinite variations ready to be transformed and
sublimated though the transcendent language of the creative process.’3
In order to express such individual concerns, Cravo fashioned his Exu pieces
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 67
1 Mario Cravo Jr. Exu na folhagem (Exu in the foliage), 1958. Scrap iron, 112 x 56 x 40 cm.
Collection of the artist. Photograph by Mario Cravo Neto, reproduced by kind
permission of the photographer
in a range of materials, from ‘natural’ ones like stone and wood to ‘technological’ ones like brass and stainless steel. He also created a range of iconographical
reinterpretations of the Exu concept, which subtly extend the codified AfricanBrazilian religious understanding of the West African trickster into a rich web of
new and more individualised symbolic connotations. For instance, a figure like Exu
in the Foliage (1958) (Figure 1), made of scrap iron, connotes not only the codified
metaphorical complex inherited from West Africa but also the artist’s concern about
the role of technology in twentieth-century life and his views on ecology. In this
context, Cravo’s choice of Exu — an agent of transformation — as the vehicle for
his ecological message enabled him to imply the possibility of change and renewal
of hardened ‘ecological’ or ‘technological’ positions towards a more balanced view
of nature, and of the role played by human beings in it.
Jorge Amado drew on his direct knowledge and experience of these same African
ritual sources to present Cravo’s outstanding talent as part of an all-embracing
cosmic dynamism, which placed the sculptor on the same level as the African gods
he so often chose to fashion. Amado’s use of the Exu metaphor clearly equates
Cravo’s unique ability to mould unwieldy materials into recognisable artistic forms
with the specifically African-Bahian qualities that are embodied in his sculptures.
Moreover, by associating Mario Cravo also with Ogum — the ferocious Yoruba
orixá in charge of blacksmithing and war — Amado constructed an even more
68 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
complex articulation of the Bahian sculptor’s abilities. In Amado’s description,
Cravo functions as a devotee possessed by — and displaying the characteristic
qualities of — his orixá Ogum:
Blacksmith out of hell, covered with fire and steel, etched by gouge and acid,
his moustache arrogant, rakish, almost aggressive, his eyes sleepless, his
mouth agape in laughter, this is the warrior Mario Cravo battling with raw
iron, heavy, illustrious wood, dead stone — forever dead but suddenly alive
in his hands, in his carving, in his forge, in his dazzling, mad destiny, in his
tireless creating.4
By conflating Exu and Ogum, two orixás that deal with fire and earth,5 in order
to describe Cravo’s qualities, Amado considerably enhanced his portrayal of the
sculptor as a sacred African blacksmith. Ogum descends from Odudua, creator
of the earth. 6 He thus mirrors Exu, the ‘first born of the universe,’ 7 who was
fashioned from a little mound of red laterite earth by the breath of Olorum, the
male aspect of the same Odudua. 8 So close is this mythical relationship between
the two orixás that Xoroquê, who is considered a type of Ogum, is even believed to
spend six months as Ogum himself and the other six as Exu.9 As a result of their
sharing this same original essence, the two orixás are seen to deal equally efficiently
with metals. Thus they both provide valid models for the violent transformation
of materials that Mario Cravo Jr uses in order to achieve the refined and powerful
qualities of his finished sculptures.
Culture, Politics and Laughter
T
he orixás function as a series of specialised narrative and poetic ‘pre-texts,’ highly
codified forms of ‘ancestral knowledge’ which are regularly manipulated by all
those who share the appropriate codes. As well as providing candomblé10 members
with the means to model their understanding of the world in ways that bind their
communities together, the orixás also establish a clearly recognisable cultural basis
for the construction of ‘African-Brazilian identity.’ Acquisition of this specialised
knowledge requires a degree of involvement in the religion’s practices that is not shared
by the Brazilian population in general. The fact that Amado felt confident enough to
employ this specialised metaphorical knowledge when addressing the wider, middleclass, Brazilian audience is therefore significant. In exposing his readers to the complex
and specialised edifice of African-Bahian ritual knowledge, he thus helped bridge the
very real cultural and religious gap that separates the two groups.
Mario Cravo’s appropriation of the Exu theme for his sculptures also contributed
to the narrowing of this cultural gap. Like Amado’s choice of verbal metaphors, the
sculptor’s re-working of the Exu iconography may have remained poorly understood
by many viewers and readers who were not equipped to share in this pool of ancestral African-Bahian knowledge. Yet the mere fact that Cravo’s elaborate artworks
have been exhibited within the educated artistic circuit, rather than within more
‘popular’ contexts, enables the ordinary viewer to engage in a more informed way
with the African-Bahian cultural sources that permeate Cravo’s sculptural production. By teasing the viewer’s curiosity and inviting a process of exegesis, works such
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 69
2 Tarsila do Amaral. A Negra (The Black Woman), 1923. Oil on canvas, 100 x 81.3 cm.
Collection of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo
as Mario Cravo’s have contributed positively, albeit sometimes only slightly, to a
narrowing of the religious and epistemological gap that has divided Brazilians since
the beginnings of slavery.
Shaken to its foundations by the abolition of slavery (1888) and the introduction
of the first Republican regime (1889), Brazilian society at the turn of the twentieth
century was faced with the need to reassess itself and find an effective way to deal
with widespread ethnic and cultural differences. The positivist tendencies of the
elite that seized power in 1889 had deepened the gap that separated their Europeanderived cultural and ritual world from that of freed African-Brazilians. With the
fall of the old slave order, the elite strove to change Brazil from a predominantly
agricultural nation into an industrialised one, for which they encouraged the use
of paid European labour. As a result the black population was faced with insur70 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
mountable obstacles to their integration into the new order.11 Excluded from the
emerging opportunities, they were reduced to unemployment, poverty and life in
the shanty-towns — no longer slaves but second-class citizens, perceived by the
white elite as inferior, uncultured and a serious problem when it came to asserting
Brazil’s then desired white cultural identity.12
A common elite view since then has been that the bottom of the Brazilian class
structure is occupied by the stereotypical black man, drunk, violent, lazy, forced to
accept ‘black men’s work’ and to survive by doing odd jobs.13 In this context, the
figure of the rogue (‘malandro’) has become all important. Roberto da Matta has
analysed the institutionalised opposition which has arisen in Brazil between, on
the one hand, ‘gente’ (people) and ‘medalhões’ (important people, big shots) and,
on the other, the ‘gentinha’ (literally ‘little’ people), the ‘zé-povinho’ (small fry), the
‘arraia-miúda’ (riffraff).14 Such abstract categories define a rigid binary system of
power and influence, where privileges are automatically conceded to those individuals perceived to occupy a position of wealth and authority, or their relatives and
friends, often placing them even above the law.
Within this structure of unjust privileges inherited from the colonial, patriarchal,
slave-holding system, the ‘gentinha’ — black and white — have had to negotiate their
everyday survival by living on their wits, if not by taking to violent crime. In the
resulting upside-down world, the ‘malandro’ — often black or mulatto — emerges
as a popular hero, who is able to mimic and defy those who are in control. The social
question of roguery began to be consciously problematised as early as the 1920s,
when artists and writers sought to develop mature forms of cultural self-expression that were independent of those imported from Europe. Striving to construct
a unique Brazilian identity that would extend beyond the country’s racial and
social dilemma, they were forced to cast a more critical glance at their own society.
Artists like the poet Oswald de Andrade and his companion, the painter Tarsila
do Amaral, called into question the established academic artistic principles which
had been treasured by educated Brazilians since the early nineteenth century.15 In
doing so, they also set out to rethink the complex nature of Brazil’s multiracial and
multicultural society. Tarsila’s famous modernist paintings, like her 1923 portrayal
of a black woman entitled A Negra (The Black Woman), for instance, portrayed all
Brazilians as dignified icons of ‘Brazilianness,’ often endowed with a monumental
quality (Figure 2).
The full scope of Brazilian ‘modernism,’ however, came to be defined by the
writer Mario de Andrade in his most elaborate literary creation, entitled Macunaíma,
o Herói Sem Nenhum Caráter (Macunaíma, the Hero Without Any Character).16
Andrade’s narrative describes the life of Macunaíma, who is born as the unusually
dark son of an Amerindian woman but in the course of the story changes into a
blue-eyed white man. He is thus made to personify all three component races that
make up Brazilian society, having been conceived by the author as an allegorical
personification of his fellow countrymen. Andrade’s hero is, moreover, portrayed
as an anti-hero, a lovable rogue who lives on his wits, dealing with the often hostile
environment of the city by means of transgression and subversion. In the course of
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 71
Brazilian history, irony, subversion and transgression have indeed proved to be useful
metaphors, enabling popular groups to assert themselves, at least on a symbolic
level. In this sense, Andrade’s Macunaíma functions as a vigorous personification
of what might be called ‘the Brazilian condition.’
On a first level of interpretation, Macunaíma-as-a-white-man resembles the
seventeenth-century Iberian pícaro, the literary stereotype for transgression that
was first developed in Spain and Portugal with the adventures of Lazarillo de
Tormes (first part published in Burgos, 1554)17 and Guzmán de Alfarache (first
part published in Madrid, 1599).18 Like the twentieth-century Brazilian ‘malandro,’
these roguish Iberian heroes too had to survive within an unjust social framework
by using their wits, or resorting to trickery and brawling. Characteristically, after
a lifetime of such adventures, the picaresque hero would convert and become an
ascetic; like his Iberian predecessors Macunaíma too ends up in heaven, turned
into a star.
On another level of interpretation, however, Macunaíma-as-a-black-Amerindian
also points to local, South American and African-Latin American transgressive
figures, in particular the Saci Pererê. Originally conceived as a bird by certain
Amazonian tribes, by the end of the 18th century the Saci Pererê had turned into
the popular figure of a little black boy with many qualities and attributes that were
reminiscent of the West African Exu: wearing a red cap, smoking a small clay pipe,
and hopping through the night on his one leg. From the late eighteenth century
onwards, the original Amerindian personage became linked directly with the slave
population: he was ‘a little black boy,’ with ‘a face like a monkey,’ the devil’s child
who chose to inhabit the slave quarters. During the slaves’ festivities (‘sambas’ and
‘batuques’), the Saci was believed to enjoy hiding in the kitchen of the big house,
where he would wreak havoc, smashing things and tricking everybody into a state
of confusion. Feared as a witch doctor, the Saci was also said to preside over the
candomblés, where he organised ritual orgies.19 Significantly, all the Saci’s extraordinary powers were said to be due to his red cap — which appears to be clearly
derived from the West African trickster. 20
Although often portrayed by Brazilians as unproblematic, racial coexistence in
Brazil has been uncomfortable, often violent, and has marked twentieth-century
Brazilian life deeply. Its inherent pressures, maintained by the oligarchies and dictatorships that have dominated Brazilian politics, might be momentarily relieved by
laughter, subversion and transgression. Disliked and feared by the white masters,
the Saci became the object of popular affection as, although a villain, he would
answer the people’s calls for help: he functioned as a lonely mediator who could
easily defy and cross the deep social divide. 21
Macunaíma too functioned in this way, his tripartite nature providing an
efficient metaphor for a unified Brazilian whole. Andrade’s modernist composite
hero opened up a poetic space in which common transgressive models could begin
to be acknowledged, understood and appropriated by the Brazilian intelligentsia.
Throughout the twentieth century, this image has acquired new layers of meaning,
bringing its original connotations to bear upon more immediate concerns. For
72 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
instance, in 1969, at the height of the military dictatorship, his filmed version
of Macunaíma enabled director Joaquim Pedro de Andrade to extend Mario de
Andrade’s original text into a meta-narrative through which he could metaphorically deal with the violent state of political repression, urban guerrilla warfare and
artistic censorship that dominated Brazilian life during that period. As Randal
Johnson puts it, whereas Mario de Andrade’s work satirised foreign influence and
cultural dependence, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade chose to denounce cultural and
economic imperialism: in the film, Macunaíma, dressed in yellow and green — the
symbolic colours of Brazil — takes back to the jungle the products of industrialised
capitalism. 22
Exu of a Thousand Faces
L
ike Macunaíma and Saci Pererê, the West African Exu has been coloured by
new forms of collective representation, many of which have come to signify the
social image of a rebellious — and therefore ‘bad’ — black man. The Brazilian Exu
represents the free maroon slave: resourceful, wild, and able to make the most of
desperately unfavourable situations.23 This view has often been criticised by members of
Christian religions, particularly the extreme evangelical forms that have recently been
taking root in Brazil. The West African model for Exu, however, remains carefully
preserved by candomblé practitioners, in particular through high-quality academic
work like that produced by Mestre Didi (Deoscoredes M dos Santos), the son of
Mãe Senhora, respected ‘ialorixá’ (priestess) of Oxe Opo Afonjá, one of Bahia’s most
famous ‘terreiros’ (religious houses). For three decades Mestre Didi and his wife, the
anthropologist Juana Elbein dos Santos, have worked to provide a substantial critical
assessment of Exu’s fundamental role in the orthodox candomblés of Bahia.
According to Juana Elbein dos Santos, Exu (the Yoruba È ṣù) is the basic dynamic
element of the Bahian Yoruba cosmological world. He is the main constitutive
principle of both natural and supernatural beings, a carrier of axé (Yoruba à ṣẹ), the
invisible principle that is contained in all the essential substances that make up the
world, like blood, semen and saliva, and which makes being and becoming possible.
Each orixá (Yoruba oriṣa) has his or her personal Exu, and it is the presence of this
dynamic principle which enables them to carry out their specific functions. Although
he takes on several forms, Exu’s nature and origin are one and the same: he expands,
multiplies and diversifies, revolving in a spiral movement, which progressively opens
up at the top until it becomes a circle open to the infinite. 24
Among African-Brazilian religious groups that perceive themselves as ‘traditionally African,’ the search for orthodox ritual practices calls for a simple representation of Exu as a clay ball (‘ogô’) fashioned as a human face, decorated with cowries
which may even form the features25 (Figure 3). Exu is also the mythical bearer of
the ancestral semen and womb, and as the principle of individualised life he signifies both. He is deeply associated with sexuality, being sometimes portrayed as a
phallus or any of its metaphorical representations: a pointed cap, various pointed
hairstyles, his iron rods. 26
The conceptual model of Exu which has been constructed within the more
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 73
3 Unknown artist. 'Ogô,' clay ball representing Exu. Madureira market, Rio de Janeiro,
1997. Photograph by Christopher Tribe
traditional Bahian Yoruba ‘terreiros’ is an holistic one and, like Macunaíma, does
not fall into a dualistic pattern of good and evil, roguery and heroism, sexuality
and asceticism. As a result, Europeans and Brazilians of European descent have
often been shocked by Exu’s characteristics, in particular his sexuality. 27 In order
to respond to such concerns, black Brazilians have had to continuously adapt and
transform their original, African-derived, religious models, and have gradually
introduced more flexible conceptual forms to replace or co-exist with the original
versions. Black Bahian workers employed in the urban renovation of Rio de Janeiro
(1910s-1920s), in particular, came to establish new, modified types of ‘terreiros.’
While retaining the Yoruba influence they had brought down from Bahia, they also
incorporated the main Bantu currents that had long been established in Rio and even
added some black Islamic elements. Often they also adopted Christian elements,
thus creating heavily mixed versions of their original beliefs and rituals. 28
Added to the common Yoruba background, these multiple non-Yoruba religious
sources have led to lively discussions and re-interpretations of traditional concepts,
which have resulted in variable individual characteristics for the different orixás,
including Exu. The addition of the Catholic cult of saints to many of these reinvented African forms, moreover, made it possible for many whites and mulattos
to join these new houses. Their presence introduced a strong dualistic conflict
between good and evil, which has found its expression through new interpretations of Exu. The association of Exu and roguery acquired a recognisable visual
form in the 1920s in the shape of Zé Pilintra, a popular character that resembled
the numerous Bahian migrant workers who flocked to Rio de Janeiro to work as
builders during the modernisation of the city, and who frequented ‘gafieiras’ (black
74 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
dances) in the evenings29 (Figure 4). With his impeccable white suit and panama
hat and his casual demeanour, Zé Pilintra’s association with roguery has often been
preserved in popular oral narrative. For instance:
‘Zé Pelintra (Exu) was from Recife in Pernambuco. He was born in Recife ...
then he started stealing a lot, pinching anything, he was a real ‘malandro,’ you
know. And then he went to Rio, lived in a shanty town, stole a lot, you know
... Then one day ... they say he used to go dancing a lot ... he was in this club
dancing, and a woman he liked saw him dancing with another woman and she
stabbed him in the back. She killed him." (Medium - waiter).30
If Exu is seen as ‘bad’ because he steals and kills, he is nevertheless a brave man
(‘valente’), capable of facing any adverse conditions — including, ultimately, death
itself. He is therefore worthy of respect31. Even as Bahian a writer as Jorge Amado,
closely acquainted with the most traditional Yoruba candomblé houses, has created
a character who recalls the popular Rio de Janeiro figure of Zé-Pilintra: the mulatto
Pedro Arcanjo in Tenda dos Milagres. A lovable rogue-hero, popular with the small
fry of Salvador’s Pelourinho district (traditional colonial centre),32 Arcanjo embodies
all the roguish qualities required to successfully survive the harsh urban environment of the city of Salvador, and is even able to defeat the great Iabá, the formidable
female power of the orixá Iansã (Oiá), the fearless wife of Xangô.
Fearing these misdeeds, Christianity relentlessly attacked the
African trickster and endowed him
with the negative qualities and evil
powers of the Catholic Devil.33 Exu’s
role as an instigator of sexuality
reinforced the deeply problematic
nature of his acceptance by patriarchal Brazilian society, as it threatened
its Christian moral values. This led
to clashes between the practitioners
of African-derived religions and
the white and mestizo Brazilian
bourgeoisie, backed by an intolerant
Catholic Church.34 Even within the
ritual space of a ‘terreiro’ as traditional and respected as the ‘Tambor
de Mina,’ a Jeje group in São Luís
do Maranhão (northeastern Brazil)
4 Unknown artist. Zé Pilintra figure.
linked to the royal house of Abomey
Madureira market, Rio de Janeiro, 1997.
(Ghana), their trickster principle
Photograph by Christopher Tribe
Legba became a problematic figure,
feared by the house members for triggering war and confusion.35
In response to the high levels of urban policing and repression of AfricanTANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 75
derived religions that followed the
establishment of the First Brazilian Republic and the beginnings of
industrialisation, a rich iconography
was developed to express the new
perceptions of Exu, particularly in Rio
de Janeiro. Exu now came to embody
diverse forms of popular historical
expression, functioning as the vehicle
through which the memory of famous
‘malandros’ would return to drink
‘cachaça’ (cane spirit) with the living.36
Moreover, Exu became increasingly
anthropomorphic, particularly within
the hybridised religions of umbanda
and quimbanda,37 where he can be
represented as a feared female trickster (Pomba-gira), performer of evil
magic38 (Figure 5).
5 Unknown artist. Pomba-gira figure.
Even in Bahia, Exu can take
Clay, height 18 cm. Collection of Tania
on devil-like aspects. An article
and Christopher Tribe. Photograph by
Christopher Tribe
published in 1989 in a Bahian journal
describes how a ‘daughter’ (devotee) of
the orixá Iansã, a black woman called
Domingas, arrived in Salvador with a drawing which represented the exact type of
Exu required by her orixá. It was an unusual type, a female Exu wearing a skirt,
with a long curved tail emerging from underneath it, pierced ears, and a large tongue
shamelessly sticking out of her mouth (Figure 6). Domingas had been instructed
to commission the piece from the sculptor-blacksmith José Adário (b. 1948), the
son and grandson of priestesses and himself a ‘son’ of the orixá Obaluayê (Azoane).
Adário provided her with the required Exu, replacing the phallic head with the
Devil’s trident and horns, thus signalling the unavoidable ambiguity that tends to
permeate the popular Brazilian understanding of the West African trickster.39
Although initiated in a traditional candomblé, José Adário did not shun having
the walls of his workshop covered with an impressive array of less than orthodox
Exu figures: Barabô, Tranca-Rua, Kôlôbô, etc. He also confessed to being a devotee
of Nossa Senhora Aparecida, the Catholic patron-saint of Brazil; Saint Barbara,
syncretised with the orixá Iansã; and Saint Jerome, syncretised with the orixá
Xangô. Even more significantly, José Adário also prayed to Saint Lazarus, who is
syncretised with an Amerindian (‘caboclo’) figure known as Sultan of the Forests
— because, in Adário’s own words, ‘the caboclo is the lord of the animals, isn’t he?’
The sculptor also liked Father Cícero, a Catholic priest and messianic hero among
the dispossessed masses of northeastern Brazil; and Saint Salvador, patron-saint
of the city of Salvador.40
76 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
6 José Adário dos Santos. Female Exu figure. Iron. Reproduced from Martins,
Vera, 'Artistas do Sagrado,' in Revista da Bahia (Salvador: EGBA), Nº 14, September/
November 1989, p8
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 77
7 Pedro Paulo Leal. Cena de Terreiro (Umbanda scene), undated. Reproduced from
Coelho Frota, Lélia, 1978, Mitopoética de 9 Artistas Brasileiros, Rio de Janeiro: Edição
Funarte, by kind permission of the author
Despite the many self-conscious attempts by respected black religious leaders
like Mestre Didi to preserve the ‘African purity’ of their beliefs and practices
— attempts which have increasingly included trips to Africa in search of a true
religious ‘foundation’ — José Adário’s multifaceted religious interests demonstrate
how Brazilian conceptions of the orixás are constantly changing. Rogê de Omulu,
a respected ‘babalorixá’ (priest) in Rio de Janeiro, for instance, proudly emphasises
the Brazilian (rather than purely African) character of his candomblé — a quality
that, in his view, does not clash with the traditional ‘foundation’ he was granted
when he was first initiated in one of the traditional Jeje-Bahian religious houses
in the town of Cachoeira, not far from Salvador.41 While maintaining this Bahian
‘foundation,’ Rogê is also careful to sacrifice to his ‘Brazilian deities,’ which have
their own shrines next to his ‘African’ ones.
Reflecting this increasing coming-together of diverse traditions, another babalorixá, Pai Caio from São Paulo, has organised the religious functions of his terreiro
so as to cater for all his spirits, whether ‘Brazilian’ or ‘African.’ Once a week, the
music sung in honour of Oxalá turns into the beat designed to summon spirits
of hybrid origin, a practice which developed within the umbanda tradition of the
southern Brazilian states, not within the Bahian candomblé.42 This mixed faith
seems to be norm in the São Paulo region. In the Vale dos Orixás — a respected
upper-class candomblé area situated in Juquitiba Ecological Reserve, 77 km from
the city of São Paulo, officially opened in 1982 — two shrines have been built,
one for the seven ‘African Exus,’ represented by crooked iron rods, and the other
for the ‘Brazilian Exus,’ represented by plaster images.43
78 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
8 Mario Cravo Jr Exu Rei (King Exu the King), 1962. Iron covered with brass, 58 x 18 x 17
cm. Lucia Cravo Collection. Photograph by Mario Cravo Neto, reproduced by kind
permission of the photographer
9 Emanoel Araújo. Fálico
Exu (Phallic Exu), 1987.
Painted wood, height 162
cm. Collection of the artist.
Photograph by Lamberto
Scipioni. Reproduced from
Araújo, Emanoel, ed, A Mão
Afro-Brasileira: Significado
da Contribuição Artística
e Histórica, São Paulo,
Tenenge, 1988
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 79
Despite all these changes, the original importance of the Yoruba cosmological symbolism of Exu44 remains undeniably present in Brazil today, even in less
‘pure’ contexts like umbanda, in which Exu is undoubtedly the most ‘African’ - like
element. The astonishing variety of Exu’s iconographic representations can be seen,
for instance, in a painting by Pedro Paulo Leal, an umbanda ‘pai-de-santo’ (priest)
from Rio de Janeiro (Figure 7). Leal portrayed his ‘Preto Velho’ (literally Old Black
Man; old Bantu ancestor) smoking a pipe and wearing a red cap — attributes that
originally defined the Yoruba Exu but which now, as we have seen, also characterise
the originally Amerindian figure of the Saci Pererê, the naughty black boy of the
slave quarters.45Leal’s mixed iconography strongly suggests the complexity that
lies at the root of the Brazilian process of identity formation. It also points to the
very active role of the West African trickster as a transgressive symbol, capable of
taking over collective representations of other origins.
Tricksters White and Black
T
he recurring view of ‘the Brazilian people’ as disempowered and struggling for
their everyday survival is highly significant. It makes Mario Cravo’s figure of
Exu Rei (Exu the King), a type of Exu which is specially cherished among umbanda
members, all the more relevant (Figure 8). This sculpture presents the trickster as a
regal figure sitting on his throne, and embodies the desire to subvert even the most
extreme situations of repression and inequality.
Not surprisingly, Brazilian artists of African descent also use the Exu metaphorical complex as a vehicle for the expression of their own individual concerns. In his
commitment to preserving the strong West African elements of his ritual practice,
Mestre Didi has portrayed Exu by reproducing the form of his traditional clay
head and adding a body. In sculptor Emanoel Araújo’s work, the pointed shape
of Exu’s head is reinterpreted in the highly refined constructivist visual language
that characterises his work. Araújo’s title, Fálico Exu (Phallic Exu) emphasises one
of the best-known characteristics of the West African Exu, his intense sexuality
(Figure 9). In choosing to emphasise the elongated shape of Exu’s head, Araújo
openly upheld his acceptance of African-Brazilian ancestral knowledge, reinforcing
this visual connotation through the written vehicle of the title. Araújo’s rigorous
use of the constructivist idiom, however, also connotes the sculptor’s intention to
share in a ‘universal’ artistic language.
Exu has emerged from the strict confines of Mestre Didi’s ‘traditional African
religion’ to become a vital form of Brazilian collective representation. Through
this trickster figure the positive aspects of transgression have been recognised
and portrayed, signalling to the Brazilian masses the possibility of subversion as
a weapon for social intervention. On a political level, for instance, this process
clearly took place in the early 1960s, a period of undisguised social concerns which
was finally ended by the violent right-wing military reaction of 1964. During that
period of euphoria, writers, musicians and film-makers, rather than politicians,
were better able to effectively address the social concerns and popular aspirations of
the day. They responded to a situation of high inflation, scandalous public debt and
80 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
widespread but ineffective political agitation with a wave of artistic production.46
A popular mass-media vehicle for these concerns was the comic book
Pererê (Figure 10). Designed by the white cartoonist Ziraldo, its adventures reveal
a Brazil imbued in political and cultural euphoria. The setting of the stories recalls
the savannas and forests of the interior of the country. Ziraldo’s themes include
elements which are commonly found in Brazilian ‘popular’ culture, including
children’s games, myths, sports, the arts and crafts. He also established certain
characters as paradigmatic of this construction of ‘Brazilianness’: an Amerindian
boy (Tininim), a jaguar (Galileu), a jaguar hunter (Compadre Tonico), a rabbit
(Geraldinho) and a monkey
(Allan), amongst others. And
of course, the well-loved figure
of the naughty Black-Amerindian boy of slave times, the
Saci Pererê. Like Macunaíma
before him, Pererê is perceived
as possessing a composite and
rather conciliatory character.47
Expressing the idealised apology
of ‘the common man,’ which is
the main message conveyed
by Ziraldo’s comic book, the
character Pererê unifies the
stories. He appeases the inevitable class conf licts (expressed
through the fights between the
hunter and jaguar) and creates
a situation in which the disempowered can survive within the
10 Cover of Pererê comic magazine by Ziraldo
dominant framework.48
(Ziraldo Alves Pinto), First issue, 1 October 1960.
The possibility of a more 26 x 17 cm. Private collection
ef fective politica l role for
African-Brazilian religions has also been systematically explored by black Brazilian
intellectuals and artists. In particular, Abdias do Nascimento, university lecturer,
artist, activist and writer, who founded the Black Experimental Theatre in Rio
de Janeiro in 1944 and worked among the black communities. In 1968 he created
the Black Arts Movement, also in Rio de Janeiro, before being exiled by Brazil’s
military dictatorship in that same year. Active in Pan-African world affairs, he
became Professor Emeritus in the State University of New York at Buffalo, returning to Brazil in 1981 after the dismantling of the military regime. He continued
his political activity as Secretary in the Rio de Janeiro State Government’s newly
created Secretariat for the Defence and Promotion of Black People, before leaving
the post in 1991 to take a seat in the Brazilian Senate.49
In his book Orixás, published in 1995, Nascimento questioned the assertion
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 81
by one of Brazil’s most respected art critics, Aracy Amaral, that ‘there does not
exist, in Brazilian contemporary art, a black art with any concern to assert itself
as such.’ According to Nascimento, artists whose work does reflect these concerns
have, on the contrary, been ignored or, as he puts it, ‘kicked, as in soccer slang,
into the corner.’ In order to counteract this systematic omission, Nascimento has
searched for effective artistic vehicles through which he could re-claim his experience of Afro-Brazilian ritual knowledge as a valuable cultural inheritance. The
African-Brazilian artist, he wrote, should ‘rescue and recreate that pristine breath
of freedom our ancestors infused in their freedom-full production.’50
Nascimento saw his own artistic activity as deriving mainly from his direct
experience of candomblés and their ceremonies, including the traditional Bahian
terreiro of Axé Opô Afonjá, which he attended as a ‘friend of the house’ rather
than as an initiate.51 But he did not see his involvement with the African-Brazilian religious experience as a simple ‘return to primary sources of African art,’
nor did he see it as a ‘reproduction of bygone existential formulas.’ To him, the
orixás were a living part of the contemporary everyday culture of the Americas.
Brazil, he said, only had to gain by bringing its African components to the
fore, particularly as their ‘lessons of philosophy’ could offer Brazil a sounder
environmental perspective grounded in an acknowledgement of ‘the harmonious
relationship between man and the forces of nature, based upon the principles
of mutual respect and support.’ 52
Nascimento valued the knowledge constructed by the scholarly works of
researchers like Roger Bastide and, above all, Mestre Didi and Juana Elbein
dos Santos. For him, Mestre Didi and Elbein dos Santos’s ‘untiring devotion
to serious practice, honest study, and respectful exposition of Orisha worship’
enables them to provide the definitive reinterpretation of African-Brazilian
ancestral knowledge, upon which his own carefully composed paintings are based.
Thoroughly researched, Nascimento’s orixá paintings also carry an undeniable
didactic function. They are, in the painter’s own words, ‘the pictorial result of
a life’s attempt to rescue and restore African cultural values, free of exoticism,
folklorism, and cultural domestication.’
In Orixás, Nascimento weaves these African ancestral narratives into a series
of highly individual verbal-visual reinterpretations of the several orixás. Each one
is signified by the painter’s inclusion of some of their established symbols and
emblems, as well as by his use of colour combinations and compositional devices
which function as expressive vehicles for the painter’s own individual re-working
of his subjects. Nascimento accompanies the paintings with a series of poems,
in which viewers/readers can anchor their readings of the visual messages. Some
orixás have been given more attention than others. Exu, in particular, figures
prominently in Nascimento’s iconography. As in a real candomblé ceremony, the
book opens with a painting entitled Padê de Exu Libertador (Padê for Freedomfighter
Eshu), representing the regular ritual offering to Exu which is designed to ‘open
the way’ to any activities that may follow (Figure 11). The accompanying poem
makes clear the ritual connotations of the painting:
82 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
11 Abdias do Nascimento. Padê de Exu (Padê for Eshu), 1988. Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 100
cm. Reproduced from Nascimento, Abdias do, Orixás: os Deuses Vivos da África/Orishas:
the Living Gods of Africa in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: IPEAFRO/Afrodiaspora, 1995, by kind
permission of IPEAFRO, www.ipeafro.org.br
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 83
I offer you Exu
an ebó of my words
in this padê that consecrates
not me
but mine and yours
brothers and sisters in
Olorum
our Father
who is
Orun.
Laroiê! 53
On one level, Nascimento clearly views Exu in the well-established West
African way, a ‘genius of the universe’s paths and cross roads, interpreter of divine
languages,’ who personifies contradiction, ‘dialectising human existence, ritualising
the cosmos’s perpetual movement, the history of men and women.’ The opening
painting — Padê — portrays the trickster head which is normally used in candomblé
rituals, placed against a background combination of red ochres and black, Exu’s
traditional colours.
On another level, however, Nascimento’s views of Exu become far more complex.
His approach to African-Brazilian religions also possesses clearly stated political
overtones, rooted in his Pan-Africanist principles. In his paintings he includes common
forms of Pan-African symbolism, like the Egyptian Wedjat-eye and forms derived
from adinkra cloth.54 He has also declared that the orixás ‘take on the defense of
the heroes and martyrs still offered by African people as sacrifices to the search for
freedom.’55 Nascimento has always been highly critical of the view upheld by many
Brazilians that denies the existence of any form of racial conflict in that country. He
wrote: ‘... perhaps the most effective element of Brazilian white supremacism is its
very self denial, and the myth that race mixture led inexorably to non-racist social
relations is the pillar of that strategy. Gilberto Freyre is the master of this reasoning,
... a prolific creator of mirages, ... in his attempt to depict Brazilian racial harmony
in the rosiest hues possible.’56
Nascimento’s deep political engagement has led him to express a more inclusive
and radical view of Exu’s transgressive role. Not only does he praise Mestre Didi’s
efforts in preserving what he calls ‘traditional African religion,’57 but he also sees the
need to accept the more recent, hybrid forms of African-Brazilian religion, such as
umbanda, which Mestre Didi rejects. For Nascimento the figure of the ‘malandro,’
the streetwise hustler and rogue, has been badly misunderstood by white society,
just as Exu has been misrepresented by the Catholic religion. Instead, he argues,
the rogue of the umbanda religion, particularly Exu Pelintra, must be seen in his
positive aspects as the force which ‘opens the doors to survival and victory for the
black community.’58
Nascimento thus implicitly acknowledges the contribution of non-Yoruba, and
even non-African, elements to the development of a holistic form of African-Brazilian
84 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
religious thinking. His Orixás book includes a representation of Pomba-gira, the female
Exu figure of Bantu origin, who is an important part of umbanda rituals and beliefs.
Another quotation from the poem he wrote to accompany his Padê de Exu painting
powerfully reiterates the subversive quality which is regarded by many Brazilians as
a necessary weapon in the struggle to effect any real social and political change:
I am your fist
Eshu Pelintra
your contempt for police
as you defend the defenceless ones
victims of the criminal
death squads
traitorous switchblade in a
White Hand
we are murdered
because they judge us orphans
scorn our humanity
not knowing we are
African men
African women
proud sons and daughters of
Orun’s Lord
Olorun
our father and yours
Eshu
whose winged offspring you are
communication and message59
Extending his Pan-Africanist commitment, Nascimento appears to be ultimately
prepared to include in his model of ‘the African-Brazilian people’ also ‘the honest white
people who understand this need and are not threatened by the idea.’60 Combining
references to both candomblé and umbanda, his work provides a rhetorical model
that proposes — despite the reality of Brazil’s fragmented society — to include all
Brazilians. Nascimento’s verbal-visual artistic language effectively reiterates the quest
for an ideal African-Brazilian identity. His language, however, envelops this quest in
distinctly utopian overtones, as it wrestles with a reality that has remained fundamentally ambiguous and contradictory. In this context, the trickster figure remains the
most powerful conceptual embodiment of these contradictions, providing a vehicle
through which the desire for social change can be expressed in terms of revolt and
subversion, rather than utopian harmony.
Notes
1
2
A person born in the state of Bahia, in eastern Brazil.
‘A madeira, a pedra, o ferro, na forja dos infernos, nas mãos do derradeiro Exu da Bahia são a flor,
a água, a poesia, a vida mais vivida e mais profunda. Uma força da natureza por um capricho
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 85
dos deuses desencadeou-se na Bahia: Mario Cravo, o escultor.’ Jorge Amado, O Ferreiro de Exu,
Salvador, 1961, quoted in Cravo Neto, Mario, Cravo, [?Salvador]: Áries Editora, 1983, between
plates 17 and 18 (translation CJ Tribe).
3
Mario Cravo Jr, 1978, quoted in Cravo Neto, Cravo, between plates 76 and 77 (translation
Maureen Bisilliat).
4
Ferreiro saído dos infernos, coberto de fogo e aço, comido de goiva e ácido, os bigodes
arrogantes, devassos, quase agressivos, os olhos de insônia, a boca em gargalhada, eis
o guerreiro Mario Cravo em luta com o ferro bruto, a madeira pesada e ilustre, a pedra
morta, para sempre morta mas, de repente, viva em sua mão, em seu talho, em sua
forja, em seu destino deslumbrado e louco, em seu criar sem descanso.’ Jorge Amado, O
Ferreiro de Exu, Salvador, 1961, quoted in Cravo Neto, Cravo, between plates 17 and 18
(translation CJ Tribe).
5
Silva, Vagner Gonçalves da, Orixás da Metropóle, 1995, Petrópolis, Vozes, p209.
6
Verger, Pierre Fatumbi, Orixás, São Paulo, Editora Corrupio, 1981, p252 and p260.
7
Costa, Vadeli Carvalho da, Umbanda, Os Seres Superiores e os Orixás/Santos, São Paulo, Edições
Loyola, 1983, volume 1, p200.
8
Augras, Monique, O Duplo e a Metamorfose: a Identidade Mítica em Comunidades Nagô, Petrópolis,
Vozes, 1983, p95.
9
Cacciatori, Olga Gudolle, Dicionário de Cultos Afro-Brasileiros, Rio de Janeiro, Forense
Universitária, 3rd edition (1977) 1988, p252.
10
Candomblé is a Brazilian religion of diverse African origins. Although frequently associated with
practices and beliefs of Yoruba origin (the so-called Candomblé de Keto, or Candomblé Nagô),
there are also candomblés of other origins: Dahomean (Candomblé Jeje) and Bantu (Candomblé
de Angola). The so-called Candomblé Congo is a mixture of Congo and Yoruba practices and
beliefs, whereas the Candomblé de Caboclo combines Yoruba elements with the ‘pajelança,’ a
mixture of Bantu, Amerindian and European rituals. See Cacciatori, Olga Gudolle, Dicionário de
Cultos Afro-Brasileiros, 3rd ed, pp78-80.
11
Monteiro, Paula, Da Doença à Desordem, A Magia na Umbanda, Rio de Janeiro, Edições Graal,
1985, p195.
12
Ibid, pp195-196.
13
Ibid, p196.
14
Matta, Roberto da, Carnivals, Rogues and Heroes, An Interpretation of the Brazilian Dilemma,
London, University of Notre Dame Press, 1991, p163.
15
Until the arrival of the Portuguese royal family in Rio de Janeiro in 1808, fleeing from Napoleon’s
invasion of the Iberian peninsula, artistic life in Brazil had been expressed by reinterpretations
of Baroque-Rococo taste, often created by mulatto artists like Antônio Francisco Lisboa, known
as Aleijadinho (‘The Little Cripple’). See Tribe, Tania, ‘The Mulatto as Artist and Image in
Colonial Brazil,’ Oxford Art Journal, Volume 19, No 1, 1996, pp67-79.
16
Andrade, Mario de, Macunaíma, o Herói Sem Nenhum Caráter, 1928, critical edition organised by
Telê Porto Ancona Lopez, Paris, Association Archives de la Littérature Latino-Américaine, des
Caraïbes et Africaine du XXe Siècle,Brasília, CNPq, 1988.
17
Solà-Solé, Josep M. (ed.), Los Tres Lazarillos, Barcelona, Puvill, two volumes. 1987-90. The story of
Lazarillo de Tormes was published in three parts, written by different authors at different times:
1) Anonymous, La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades, Burgos, 1554; 2)
Anonymous, La Segunda Parte de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades, Antwerp,
1555; 3) Juan de Luna, Segunda Parte de la Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, sacada de las crónicas
antiguas de Toledo, Paris, 1620.
18
Alemán, Mateo, Guzmán de Alfarache, Barcelona, Planeta, 1983. This volume, edited by Francisco
Rico, includes both parts of the story: 1) Primera Parte de Guzmán de Alfarache, Madrid, 1599 2)
Segunda Parte de Guzmán de Alfarache, Lisbon, 1604.
19
Queiroz, Renato da Silva, Um Mito Bem Brasileiro: Estudo Antropológico Sobre o Saci, São Paulo,
Editora Polis, 1987, pp41 and 61-62.
20
Santos, Juana Elbein dos, Os Nagô e a Morte: Pàde, Àsèsè e o Culto Ègun na Bahia, Petrópolis,
Vozes, 1976, figures 21 to 27.
21
Queiroz, Renato da Silva, Um Mito Bem Brasileiro, Estudo Antropológico Sobre o Saci, p41, pp57-65
and p93.
22
Johnson, Randal, Cinema Novo x 5: Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Film, Austin, Texas,
University of Texas Press, 1984, pp27-33.
86 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities
Monteiro, Paula, Da Doença à Desordem, p195.
23
24
Santos, Juana Elbein, Os Nagô e a Morte, Petrópolis, Vozes, 1976, p133.
25
Personal communication to the author by Rogê de Omulu, respected ‘babalorixá’ (priest) in Rio
de Janeiro. (Interview conducted in the summer of 1997).
26
Santos, Juana Elbein dos, Os Nagô e a Morte, pp163-164.
27
Ibid p164.
28
Moura, Roberto, Tia Ciata e a Pequena África no Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Funarte, 1983, p88.
29
Ibid, pp57-58.
30
‘Zé Pelintra (Exu) era um pernambucano, era de Recife. Zé Pelintra é nascido em Recife ... então
ele começou a roubar muito, furtar tudo, ele era malandro, né. Uns tempos ele foi pro Rio, morou
em favela, roubava muito, né ... Então ele um certo dia ... assim eles conta ... que ele ia muito em
cabaré: tava num cabaré dançando, uma mulher que ele gostava dela viu ele dançá com a outra,
matou ele por trás das costa. Assassinou ele (médium - garçom).’ Monteiro, Paula, Da Doença à
Desordem, p195.
31
Ibid, p195.
32
The capital of the state of Bahia, Salvador was the first capital of colonial Brazil, until in 1763 Rio
de Janeiro became the centre of political power.
33
Moura, Roberto, Tia Ciata, p88.
34
Ibid, p88.
35
Ferretti, Sérgio, Querebentã de Zomadônu: Etnografia da Casa das Minas do Maranhão, São Luís,
Edufitia, 1996, pp126-131.
36
Moura, Roberto, Tia Ciata, pp88-89.
37
Umbanda is a Brazilian religion combining elements of Bantu origin mixed with Yoruba ones,
as well as elements of local, Amerindian origin (‘pajelança’). Other influences include Islam
and Catholicism, as well as forms of western spiritism, especially the principles of A Kardec.
Those forms of umbanda that deal with black magic are called quimbanda, or more popularly,
macumba. Umbanda, which began in Rio de Janeiro in the first decades of the twentieth century,
has now spread throughout Brazil, and even to foreign countries like the USA and Argentina.
See Cacciatore, Olga Gudolle, Dicionário de Cultos Afro-Brasileiros, p242.
38
Cacciatore, Olga Gudolle, Dicionário de Cultos Afro-Brasileiros, p213.
39
Martins, Vera, ‘Artistas do Sagrado,’ in Revista da Bahia, no 14, September/November 1989,
pp5-11.
40
Ibid, p6
41
Personal communication, 1997.
42
Silva, Vagner Gonçalves da, Orixás da Metrópole, 1995, p186.
43
Ibid, p221.
44
See the perceptive analysis by Juana Elbein dos Santos in Os Nagô e a Morte.
45
Tribe, Tania C, 'Saints and Orixás: Popular Uses of Religious Syncretism in Contemporary
Brazilian Painting', in Rostas, Susanna and Droogers, Andre (eds), The Popular Uses of Popular
Religion in Latin America, Amsterdam, Cedla, 1993, pp62-63 and figure 5.
46
Cirne, Moacy, História e Crítica dos Quadrinhos Brasileiros, Rio de Janeiro, Edição Europa/Funarte,
1990, pp59-60.
47
Cirne, Moacy, História e Crítica dos Quadrinhos Brasileiros, pp50-51.
48
For a discussion of Ziraldo’s Pererê, see Cirne, Moacy, História e Crítica dos Quadrinhos Brasileiros,
pp49-53.
49
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Memories from Exile,’ in Nascimento, Abdias do and Elisa Larkin do
Nascimento, Africans in Brazil, a Pan-African Perspective, Trenton, NJ, Africa World Press, 1992,
pp48-69. Abdias do Nascimento died in 2011, subsequent to the drafting of this article.
50
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Os Afro-Brasileiros e os Orixás/Afro-Brazilians and the Orishas,’ in
Nascimento, Abdias do, Orixás, Os Deuses Vivos da África/Orishas, the Living Gods of Africa in
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Ipeafro/Afrodiaspora, 1995, pp33-69 (specifically p48).
51
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Memories from Exile,’ p55.
52
Ibid, p75.
53
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Padê de Exu Libertador/Padê for Freedomfighter Eshu,’ in Nascimento,
Abdias do, Orixás, Os Deuses Vivos da África, pp13-18 (p18). Translation by Elisa Larkin
TANIA TRIBE | Tricksters in The New World: The Role of Disorder and Transformation … | 87
Nascimento. Excerpts reproduced by kind permission of IPEAFRO (www.ipeafro.org.br).
54
Among ancient Egyptians, the Wedjat-eye, the left eye of Horus (the god related to light and the
sun-disc) and a symbol of his power, was the lunar eye which, returned after Seth had stolen
it, was healed by Thoth and then called ‘the whole one.’ See Lurker, Manfred, An Illustrated
Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt, London, Thames and Hudson, 1974, p128.
Adinkra is the Asante name for their printed textile, originally reserved for funerals, which
encodes symbolic signs in the design. The designs are stamped onto the cloth with a carved
calabash rind that has been dipped into black dye. Wahlman, Maude Southwell, Signs and
Symbols: African Images in African-American Quilts, New York, Studio Books, 1993, p78.
55
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Memories from Exile,’ p54.
56
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Pan-Africanism Negritude and the African Experience in Brazil,’ in
Africans in Brazil, a Pan-African Perspective, pp81-117 (p109).
57
Mestre Didi made his views clear in a conversation we conducted in his house in Salvador, in
August 1997.
58
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Pan-Africanism and Negritude,’ p107.
59
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Padê de Exu Libertador/Padê for Freedomfighter Eshu,’ p17. His
footnote explains: ‘White Hand: Version in Rio de Janeiro of the famous [sic] death squads,
off-duty police assassins, whose victims are overwhelmingly Afro-Brazilian.’
60
Nascimento, Abdias do, ‘Memories from Exile,’ p65.
88 | Yoruba Diasporas & Identities