Transformations of black lay sodalities in Salvador, Brazil

From ethnicity to race and gender: transformations of black lay sodalities in Salvador, Brazil

Mieko Nishida

Black lay sodalities functioned as a very special type of voluntary association for enslaved women and men of African descent in Brazil during the slavery regime.(1) Every African-born slave was obliged to be baptized as a Roman Catholic before or upon arrival in Brazil.(2) Conversion to Christianity immediately gave enslaved Africans equal spiritual rights with the prosperous white laity in the eyes of God; it allowed them to marry in church, to attend mass, and to receive confirmation in the faith by visiting bishops. They were also free to participate in various religious celebrations in honor of Christian saints. Most importantly, such newly converted Christians were entitled to acquire a membership in lay sodalities, which guaranteed a decent Christian funeral and the saying of masses for the deceased. Despite the spiritual equality which all enslaved Africans and their decedents shared with the white laity, in reality the latter never accepted the former into their white lay sodalities as their fellow members. Therefore, lay sodalities were inevitably divided by race. Many white sodalities, especially the prestigious Santa Casa da Misercordia (Holy House of Mercy), which itself owned a number of slaves, limited membership to whites.(3) Mulattoes (pardos) established their sodalities which also excluded persons of African birth and Brazilian-born blacks (crioulos), while accepting white members.(4) This is because many mulattoes were born free and comprised a different social stratum from the slave population and also because mulatto slaves had a great advantage over their crioulo counterparts in the practice of manumission.(5) Therefore blacks, being denied the membership to all white and mulatto sodalities, had to establish lay sodalities of their own with their priorities and agendas. Throughout the colonial period, black lay sodalities proliferated in areas where a myriad of Africans were intensively imported as slave labor, especially in Bahia, Pernambuco, and Minas Gerais. In a black sodality most members were enslaved individuals who were not only desperately poor but also themselves were human commodities owned by others. Therefore black sodalities were naturally badly off and did not own their independent churches or even chapels; white sodalities with their own chapels sometimes allowed black sodalities to build altars for their patron saints and hold ceremonies in honor of their saints.

This article is intended to suggest a new orientation for the scrutiny of black lay sodalities in Brazil. By focusing on the city of Salvador, this essay first examines the significance of ethnicity in the formation and development of black lay sodalities for the enslaved population during the colonial period. Then my focus shifts to two newly established free-born black sodalities during the nineteenth century, one of which later transformed itself into a new type of mutual-aid association named the Protective Society of the Needy (Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos). My special emphasis is placed on the meanings of race and gender in these new black lay sodalities.

Black lay sodalities in colonial and early nineteenth-century Brazil have already attracted a considerable amount of scholarly attention. These preceding studies have successfully demonstrated black lay sodalities’ unique roles and functions as voluntary associations for African-born slaves, and have placed a special emphasis on ethnicity and group sodality expressed in their memberships and governing bodies.(6) Yet so far very little has been known about black voluntary associations which continued to function after the mid-nineteenth century. Several historians have asserted that black sodalities virtually “disappeared” from the sociocultural scenery in Brazil during the nineteenth century when the general laity’s active participation in sodalities declined rapidly because of the secularization process of Luso-Brazilian culture; during the nineteenth century the Church itself became a less decisive factor, with the diminishing importance of lay sodalities whose origins lie in medieval Europe.(7) But one may wonder if this indeed brought an end to all black lay sodalities in Brazil; some black sodalities may have survived even until today, albeit in a somewhat modified form. And if they have, how? This article seeks to answer these questions.

Ethnicity in the Formation and Development of Black Lay Sodalities

The city of Salvador, Bahia (capital of Brazil, 1549-1763) developed as a major Atlantic port city for the export of sugar and tobacco to the European market and for the import of slaves from Africa. The first African slaves were imported em masse to the port of Salvador around the beginning of the 1570s and enslaved Africans were directly brought into the port of Salvador until 1831, when the slave trade was banned in Brazil. The major slave source for Salvador (and Bahia) was Angola which was to be replaced by the Gold Coast of West Africa by the end of the seventeenth century. Throughout the colonial period, more than 40 per cent of the whole population in Salvador were enslaved and the slave population was predominantly African-born until around the mid-nineteenth century.(8) Such enslaved people of African birth obviously sought the formation of lay sodalities for their own needs; in 1789 the presence of at least seventeen black sodalities was recorded in Salvador.(9) Unlike other voluntary associations for the enslaved population, such as juntas (unions) for making loans, all black lay sodalities were officially recognized by the larger society; every lay sodality, either black, mulatto, or white, established in Portuguese America was required to have its statutes approved by the archbishop and by the Portuguese Crown. No matter how strongly African-born slaves had initially reacted against forced conversion to Christianity, they soon found it beneficial to belong to lay sodalities for their daily survival in slave society.

As many scholars have already noted, probably the most unique function of black lay sodalities was as emancipation societies: the statutes of black sodalities stipulated the provision of loans from emancipation funds for their slave members; once the slave obtained his/her freedom, he/she was obliged to return the money to the sodality, so that another slave member could use the loan.(10) Yet it seems that such manumission funds in black sodalities were never in active use at least in the case of Salvador.(11) It is possible that slaves did not mention the loan of manumission funds from sodalities in notarized documents. It is even more likely that the archbishop rarely approved of the petitions from black sodalities regarding the loan of their manumission funds. Whatever the case it would seem most important for black sodalities to be officially equipped with manumission funds. Their ideological, not necessarily practical, readiness to take actions for the freedom of slave members could appeal not only to the slave population but also to whites and mulattoes who wanted to be good Christians by lending a hand to the needy.

The formation of black lay sodalities in Salvador inevitably reflected the changing ethnic composition of the African-born slave population; first, “Angolan” sodalities came into being and later slaves originally from West Africa developed their own sodalities.

The oldest black sodalities in Salvador were not established until the last decades of the seventeenth century; the intensive influx of slaves from Angola, many of whom shared the same ethnic origins, had not resulted in the immediate formation of lay sodalities. Many black sodalities had been set up but quickly dissolved without official approval; the dominant society had successfully hampered the enslaved population from establishing their own lay sodalities. The first approved black sodality was finally established in 1685, mainly by slaves from Angola and their descendants, as the sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary (irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Rosario) in Conceicao da Praia parish, whose statutes of 1686 were approved by the archbishop in 1702. The black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in Conceicao da Praia parish was soon followed by another: The black sodality of Saint Anthony of Catagerona (irmandade de Santo Antonio de Catagero) in the chapel of Sao Pedro parish in 1699, which was also established by Angolans and their descendants. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, members of the black sodality of the Our Lady of the Rosary in Conceicao da Praia parish left their parish church, because of insults they had received as pretos (African-born slaves) from the white sodalities housed at the same church.(12) From 1703 until 1726, they constructed their own church at the present location in the Pelourinho by working at night, and on Sundays and holidays, while a famous white painter offered them help for the plan and construction of the church. They moved the image of their patron saint to the new church in the Pelourinho.(13) Thus this black sodality has been called the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho.

Ethnicity was represented in the governing of these two oldest “Angolan” sodalities; only Angolans and blacks of Brazilian birth called crioulos were accepted and equally represented on the governing body of both of these black sodalities. Office positions alternated between Angolans and crioulos; whenever an office was held by the former, a comparable post went to the latter.(14) This might have been at least initially a device for the offspring of Angolan-born members to participate in the sodalities with their parents and kinspersons, so that the sodalities might represent the interests of such persons of Angolan descent. Since the larger society did not have any specific term to define Brazilian-born persons of Angolan descent, they were broadly described as crioulos together with those of non-Angolan origin. Such ambiguity of description may have subsequently encouraged some of the general crioulo population, not persons of Angolan descent only, to join the “Angolan” sodalities. We are not sure whether these sodalities were eager to be exclusively “Angolan” or not, but whatever the case, the strong representation of crioulos on the governing body certainly suggests that the successful establishment of the oldest black sodalities near the end of the seventeenth century had something to do with the creolization of the urban slave population. Black sodalities relied on their crioulo members, as intermediaries, who were born in Brazil, baptized at birth, and much better integrated into the larger society with sufficient understanding of Luso-Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. In the last decade of the seventeenth century, with the significant presence of the crioulo population, the African-born slave population in Salvador finally found it possible to have their sodalities approved by the dominant society.

West African slaves started to arrive in Salvador around the end of the seventeenth century and many of them joined in the existent “Angolan” sodalities. As a result, among the new members of the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho for the period from 1722 to 1786, while being predominantly enslaved, the Brazilian-born only slightly outnumbered African-born, and West Africans (48.3%) outnumbered Angolans (29.0%) among the African-born members.(15) The percentage of West Africans among the new members of African birth continued to grow; for the period from 1798 to 1865, 73.7 per cent of the African-born were from West Africa, while Angolans constituted only 20.5 per cent.(16) Despite the prominence of West African members, maintaining a collective ethnic identity as “Angolans” continued to be important for the members of the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho. In 1786, the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho asked the queen of Portugal, Dona Maria, for permission to wear masks and to dance while singing in the “Angolan language” during festivals of Our Lady of the Rosary, on the grounds that this had been done in other Christian countries.(17)

In the late eighteenth century, slaves from West Africa also established their own sodalities. Formation of new black sodalities during the eighteenth century reflected ethnic divisions among West African slaves in Salvador. The sodality of Good Jesus of the Necessity and Redemption (irmandade de Sr. Born Jesus das Necessidades e Redempcso) in the Corpo Santo Church, was established by in 1752 by Geges (Ewes) in 1752. The sodality of Our Lady of the Good Death (irmandade de Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte) in the Barroquinha Church was established by Nagos (Oyo-Yorubas).(18)

As stated earlier, black sodalities did not discriminate against women in their memberships; both women and men held memberships of black sodalities, almost equally. This is attributable to the fact that many slave women of African birth worked as market women in the city and were capable of earning more cash than their male counterparts who worked as porters and transporters.(19) Such women members of African birth could have made a significant financial contribution to black sodalities. Nonetheless women were not allowed to hold offices in some black sodalities. For instance, while no slaves of either sex was entitled to become an officeholder, the statutes of the black sodality of the Rosary in the Pelourinho (both in 1698 and in 1820) stipulated that women were excluded from the governing body “because of the condition of their sex.”(20)

Black sodalities were not exclusive in their memberships, not only regarding ethnicity and gender but also in terms of race; they allowed and, in fact, even welcomed white and mulatto participants, because of the potential for bequests from their well-to-do members. Furthermore, the offices of treasurer and scribe of black sodalities were often reserved for white members, who usually paid higher entrance fees and annual dues, because of the alleged illiteracy and poverty of their black members. This custom was abolished only around the end of the eighteenth century by which time more and more black members had become literate.(21) A.J.R. Russell-Wood maintains that prosperous whites paid dues to be members of several sodalities, including black sodalities, all of which, by statute, guaranteed the attendance of all members at their funerals; ostentatious display at a funeral was an indication of the deceased’s socio-economic standing in colonial Brazil.(22) The British vice-consul James Wetherell stated in Salvador: “A curious custom exists at the funerals if the deceased has been a member of one of the Irmandades [lay sodalities] or clubs, most of the members attend the funeral procession, and both the corpse and the attendant brothers are habited in the peculiar dress of their order.”(23) For instance, in the 1830s, the wealthy Portuguese merchant Jose Coelho Maia belonged to seven sodalities, including the mulatto sodality of Our Lady of Guadalupe. During the same decade, the Portuguese bricklayer Manoel Antonio da Costa Rodrigues belonged to eight sodalities, including two black sodalities: the sodality of Our Lord of Martyrs (irmandade de Nosso Senhor dos Martirios) in the Barroquinha church; and the sodality of Saint Benedict in the church of Conceicao da Praia parish.(24) Obviously white members did not mind having blacks attend their funerals. Perhaps black members stood in the same line where the deceased’s slaves did, which could appear as if the deceased had owned many more slaves. Of course, others joined black sodalities simply out of Christian charity to help the needy, including slaves. Some became members of black sodalities out of curiosity about their slaves’ activities and/or black culture, or out of their inevitable concern for slave control.

Such an ostentatious attitude observed in the white laity’s participation in black sodalities was soon adopted by the property-owning African-born ex-slave population. In the late colonial period and the early nineteenth century, holding multimembership in black sodalities was a common practice among well-to-do African-born ex-slaves, many of whom owned slaves but could not belong to white or mulatto sodalities because of their race. For instance, among the 159 wills of freedpersons (63 men and 96 women) registered in Salvador for the early nineteenth century, nearly half were members of one or more sodalities, and a third were affiliated with more than one sodality.(25) A good example is Ana Maria do Carmo, an African-born woman originally from Costa da Mina, who registered her will on July 4, 1811. Ana Maria do Carmo was an ex-slave of the Reverend Luis de Sousa, who had liberated her on payment of 84$000 reis. She herself owned three African-born female slaves (Antonia, Maria, and Rosa), all also from Costa da Mina, and had limited assets in the form of gold, furniture, and used clothes. She had no children by her late husband Manoel Martins de Miranda da Cruz, or by anybody else, so she ordered that her property was to be inherited by Jose Maria do Carmo, who had been her slave but had been liberated. Ana Maria do Carmo declared in her will that the habit of Saint Francis should be her shroud, that the vicar of her parish should officiate at the funeral service, and that her cortege was to be accompanied by sixteen priests. Her burial was to be in the church of her sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho, where she had held the office of judge. Ana Maria was also a member of the sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the church of Santo Antonio parish. On the day of her death, the executor of her will was to say twelve masses for her soul, and another twelve masses for the saint of her name, each at the fee of 320 reis. She also left 3$000 reis for masses to be said for her former owner, for twelve masses for the soul of her late husband, and for twelve masses for her soul, each for the fee of 320 reis. Her funeral was to be accompanied by 16 members of the sodalities to which she had belonged, and each such member would be given alms of 40 reis for such participation.(26) An extreme example was the case of the African-born freedman, Maximiano de Freitas Henrique. He had been a judge of the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho, a treasurer of the black sodality of Good Jesus of Redemption (St. Born Jesus da Redempcao), and served on the advisory boards of the black sodality of Saint Ephigenia in the Carmalite monastery and the black sodality of Saint Benedict in the same convent. He was also a member of the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary on Rua de Joao Pereira and of the black sodality of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (Jesus Maria Jose) whose sect was the Carmalite monastery. In his will, he stipulated burial in the Franciscan monastery, accompanied by all members of the black sodalities of which he was a member.(27)

As has already been well studied, black sodalities chose to be devoted to the cult of specific patron saints often for the purpose of worshiping African gods and goddesses; under the disguise of Catholicism and Christian saints, enslaved African peoples in colonial Brazil attempted to maintain their own religions and to practice African religious rites and customs. Many black sodalities in Salvador were devoted to the cult of Our Lady of the Rosary (Nossa Senhora do Rosario). Roger Bastide maintains that the veneration of Our Lady of the Rosary, initiated by Saint Dominic, had fallen into disuse and was revived only when the Dominicans started to send their first missionaries to Africa, which explains why it took root in and spread among enslaved Africans.(28) Later, Africans in Brazil may have found a way to identify the Rosary with the African goddess Yemanja. In Brazil, Our Lady of the Rosary was sometimes painted with a black face and hands.(29) Black sodalities of Our Lady of the Rosary annually crowned African “kings” and “queens” in their religious festivals. Henry Koster, a British planter who lived in northern Brazil during the early decades of the nineteenth century, wrote: “[T]he Brazilian Kings of Congo worship Our Lady of the Rosary, and are dressed in the dress of white men; they and their subjects dance, it is true, after the manner of their country; but to these festivals are admitted African negroes of other nations, creole blacks, and mulattoes, all of whom dance after the same manner; and these dances are now as much the national dances of Brazil as they are of Africa.”(30) Another most popular patron saint of color was Saint Benedict the Moor (Sao Benedito), who had been known as a miracle worker immediately after his death in 1589, although his cult remained marginal in orthodox Catholicism until 1743 and he was canonized only in 1807.(31) The black sodality of Saint Benedict in Saint Francis Monastery maintained great popularity in Salvador. Saint Ephigenia and Saint Elesbao are also saints of color.(32) Saints worshiped by the African-born population in Salvador included St. Barbara, St. John, Sts. Cosme and Damian, St. Jerome, St. Anthony, St. Lazarus, St. Roque, St. Ann, Our Lady of the Conception, Our Lady of the Candles and, above all, Our Lord of Good Ending.(33) According to Albert Raboteau, Ibeji (in Yoruba), the spirit of twins, is syncretized with the twin saints Cosmas and Damian, and correlations are also found between Ogun, the god of iron and war, and St. John the Baptist; Oshun, the African Aphrodite of voluptuous beauty, and the Virgin of Bobre; and Shopana, lord of smallpox, and St. Lazarus.(34) Over time such identification of African gods and goddesses with Christian saints and accompanying religious festivals by African-born slaves resulted in dynamic syncretisms between African religions and Roman Catholicism, most notably in a form of African Brazilian religion candomble. The back yard of the Barroquinha Church, in which the black sodality of Our Lady of Good Death was established by Nagos, functioned as a place for candomble festivals of Nago origin for many years, until the church fell into ruin in the late twentieth century because of financial problems.(35)

In the name of Catholicism, black sodalities were also relatively free to bury the dead with non-Christian rituals, especially in the case of the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho, which had an independent church of its own. In the backyard of the church the members built a cemetery for the burial of their sodality members, as any other church in colonial Brazil did. However small the cemetery was it was indeed used for the burial of slaves who were members of the sodality. Having an independent cemetery associated with their independent church guaranteed slave members a decent burial on church property. In Salvador at least as late as the early decades of the eighteenth century, it was not uncommon for African-born individuals to be buried in a non-Catholic mode.(36) Burial rites have been very important in West African religions, because of the powerful position of ancestors; ancestors, both those who passed away a long time ago and those of more recent memory, are revered as founders of villages and kinship groups throughout West Africa, where funeral ceremonies are long, complex, and expensive.(37) Therefore, in Salvador, the occasions and places of such burials served as very important gathering places for African-born persons on spiritual occasions, through which they developed a collective identity.(38)

Black lay sodalities in Salvador, most of whose members were predominantly enslaved blacks of both sexes, were never exclusive in their memberships in terms of race, ethnicity, or gender. While one’s ethnicity did not always determine his/her membership of a specific black sodality, ethnicity continued to be a critical factor as the association’s corporate identity. Ethnicity was expressed and maintained by a black sodality through its worship of African gods and goddesses in disguise of Christian saints, its modified practice of African burial rituals, and its continued use of African languages. Ironically such an emphasis on ethnicity resulted in preserving and reinforcing divisions among the enslaved population, as long as the transatlantic slave trade continued to bring newly arrived African slaves to the city of Salvador. Small wonder black sodalities in Salvador did not embrace their shared “blackness,” despite the evolving creolization process of the enslaved population.

Then our next question is: when and how did black sodalities in Salvador start to change some of their major characteristics?

Changes: Declining Participation in Sodalities and the Emergence of Free Black Sodalities

Some remarkable changes were observed in the further development of black lay sodalities in Salvador around the middle of the nineteenth century, attributable to two major cultural shifts which were coinciding in the larger society. One was the laity’s declining participation in sodalities, as mentioned earlier, and the other was the changing composition of the black population.

Around mid-century the free laity’s participation in lay sodalities declined very rapidly. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, for instance, nearly a hundred lay sodalities, either white or black, existed and functioned in Salvador, and less than 15 per cent of the free-born residents of both sexes who registered their wills in Salvador were non-members of lay sodalities.(39) But this percentage increased rapidly during the late nineteenth century: 80 per cent for men and 75.8 per cent for women were non-members of lay sodalities for 1851-1854; and 81.7 per cent for men and 91.6 per cent for 1878-1885.(40) The wills of African-born ex-slaves demonstrate the same disposition in their memberships of black sodalities. Among the 166 wills of freedpersons I consulted, very few freed persons of either sex (94 males and 72 females), who registered their wills between 1850 and 1888, were members of even a single sodality.(41) The number of black sodalities mentioned in their wills also decreased from twenty (18081849) to eleven (1850-1888).(42) As a result, for instance, in the year of 1862, the black sodality of the Rosary in the Pelourinho, while still containing 1,412 members (825 males and 587 females), accepted only eight new members (three males and five females), and lost four members through death.(43)

The major reason for this change among the laity is that long-prevailing Baroque religious values were losing ground in nineteenth-century Brazil. Indeed, around 1850, the form of registered wills in Salvador became more abbreviated and their statements became simplified and more straightforward, which is attributable to such an ongoing secularization process. No longer did LusoBrazilian culture place importance on formal participation in religious festivals and other ceremonial activities under the name of a specific patron saint. Neither did ostentatious display at a funeral, which required attendance of fellow sodality members, serve as an indication of the deceased’s social status as had hitherto been the case during the preceding centuries. No matter how important church burials might still be for sodality members, after the middle of the nineteenth century no lay sodality in Salvador was entitled to bury any of its members within its church. After the prevalence of yellow fever in Salvador in the year of 1849, burials within churches were strictly prohibited; people had to be buried in one of three cemeteries at a short distance from the city.(44)

Interestingly, around the same time when the laity ceased to participate in sodalities, the major composition of the black population in Salvador began to shift from African-born to Brazilian-born; and from enslaved to free. With the decree of November 7, 1831, the slave trade was officially banned in Brazil but it continued illegally and on a massive scale. Slaves were no longer taken directly into the port of Salvador; slave ships unloaded their illegal human cargoes clandestinely on the islands of the Bay of All Saints or at the mouth of the Rio d’Una. The west side of the main island of Itaparica was the main depot, from which Africans were shipped further in the coastal trade or taken directly into the slave market in Salvador. The law of 1831 did effectively decrease the number of Africans imported to Bahia. The number of newly arrived Africans suddenly dropped form 7,000 (1830) to 1,000 (1831) and remained lower than before except for the years 1846-1850.(45) Furthermore, because of the constant demands for intensive labor in the rural, agricultural areas for the sugar plantations, the city of Salvador accepted a much lower percentage of new arrivals after 1831. During the 1840s the transprovincial slave trade started to transfer the enslaved population, particularly urban male slaves, from the cities to the agricultural regions; and from the northeast to the southeast, particularly its coffee-booming areas. The transatlantic slave trade was terminated in 1851, after when very few newly arrived Africans were brought to Salvador. As a result, by 1872 the slave population in Salvador had declined to 11.6 per cent, while the free population of color had risen to 57.3 per cent.(46) Naturally the free Brazilian-born blacks did not find it beneficial to belong to voluntary associations which had been established mainly by African-born slaves, whose members were predominantly enslaved, and which placed a special emphasis on ethnicity.

The black laity’s rapidly declining participation in black sodalities around mid-century, however, was by no means the end of the story for black sodalities in Salvador. The black population did not just give up this special form of voluntary associations which their enslaved ancestors had sought after and skillfully elaborated for their specific needs and priorities; a newly emerging group of blacks established two new black sodalities with a much more exclusive character than had hitherto been the case. Those people were free-born blacks of Brazilian birth (crioulos livres).(47)

The Black Sodality of Saint Francis of Paula in Pilar Parish

A new black sodality came into being in December 1843 in Agua de Meninos of Pilar parish. It was named the sodality of Saint Francis of Paula of free-born blacks born in the Empire of Brazil (irmandade do Glorioso Sao Francisco de Paula de crioulos livres nascidos no Imperio do Brazil). The prologue of its statutes tells us an interesting “history” of this sodality. The Reverend Father Antonio Borges Monteiro was in the habit of taking his walks to visit the house of an elderly friend to converse with him for a couple of hours every afternoon. One day, Father Monteiro found a tin veronica bearing the image of St. Francis of Paula. He picked it up and locked it in a drawer at home but, three days later, he again found the same veronica in the same place. Recognizing a miracle, he bought the house of his friend and ordered the area cleared in which there was a fugitive slave community (quilombo) and bush and weeds. Father Monteiro made use of all of his financial resources in building a chapel. He stipulated that the chapel be dedicated to St. Francis of Paula and placed the image of St. Francis of Paula, which he ordered to be made, in the capela-mor. At his death, he left all of his possessions which he had inherited from his parents to establish a patrimony for the chapel and for the upkeep of the veneration of the saint. He named as his executor Theotonio de Amorim Falcao and in one of the clauses of his will Father Monteiro declared himself as the Father Founder. He ordered his executor to make his godchild, whose name was Francisco de Paula Borges Monteiro, responsible for the chapel and to apply his endowment to its administration, and let him be the chaplain. In another clause of his will the Father Founder ordered that if, some day, one or more priests of the order of St. Francis of Paula were to appear in Salvador, his executor or the aforesaid godchild was to let the priest or priests maintain the chapel. This would nullify the provision charging his godchild with this responsibility. However, the executor died in 1819 without seeing the Father Founder’s wishes brought to fruition. The chapel was abandoned until, in 1843, some crioulos, wishing to venerate St. Francis of Paula and support the chapel, requested the archbishop to grant permission for them to adopt the chapel as the seat of their new sodality.(48)

As described above, Agua de Meninos of Pilaf parish had formerly been a place of refuge for fugitive slaves. It was also there that several hundreds of Africanborn slaves and freed persons had engaged in their final battle with the municipal troops in a uprising called the Male Revolt (1835).(49) The location of the chapel was ideal; it was well chosen for the creation of a collective crioulo identity through the establishment this new black sodality. Agua de Meninos signified an important aspect of the “black” history in Salvador, which was enslaved people’s collective resistance against the extreme form of power domination: the formation of fugitive slave communities; and also the well-organized slave revolt. The past of their enslaved ancestors had to be honored and glorified for the sake of the present, in order to establish this new black sodality.

As for the governing body of this crioulo sodality, whereas no limitation was placed on slave status or ethnicity, race or gender, all officeholders had to be crioulos. The charitable activities of the sodality were directed to assist the indigent in general by creating a mutual insurance society (monte pio).(50) The mutual insurance society was governed by a board composed of a male director and six male members, which acted independently of the governing body (mesa) of the sodality. Only male members who were in good standing and whom the scribe of the sodality recommended were allowed to participate in the mutual insurance society. Dues were 255000 reis, which could be paid in monthly installments of 500 reis over four years. The first month’s contribution was deposited by the board in an account in the Caixa Economica da Provincia. Minimum capital of 400$000 reis was to be established and placed on loan, principally to the elderly and the sick who could not provide for themselves. Wives and children were entitled to receive financial assistance in those cases where the death of a husband would result in destitution for the survivors.(51)

The most unique feature of this new black society was the establishment of the mutal insurance organization in which only men were allowed to participate. Why did this new crioulo sodality prevent women from having membership in its mutural insurance sociey? Among the free-born crioulo population women had come to be identified mainly with their roles in the domestic domain, namely as wives and mothers, while men who were in good socioeconomic standing occupied the role of a major breadwinners for the family. Freedom with stable income enabled free-born common-law spouses to live together. Among the free-born crioulo population, the double-headed household had become a norm, and gender roles were redefined accordingly. Yet many such couples were not united by church matrimony; they were common-law spouses who shared the same household, together with their illegitimate children.(52)

The Black Sodality of Our Lady of Solitude and Support in Santo Antonio Parish and the Protective Society of the Needy

Another new free black sodality came into being on September 16, 1832, as the sodality of Our Lady of Solitude and Support of the Needy (irmandade de Nossa Senhora da Soledade Amparo dos Desvalidos) at a meeting in the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Quinze Misterios Church of Santo Antonio parish.(53) The founder and judge was Manoel Victor Serra, a free-born crioulo whose occupation was described as ganho (wage earning). The other founding members, all of whom were free-born crioulos, included officers Manoel da Conceicao (cabinet maker), as treasurer; Luis Teixeira Gomes (bricklayer), as scribe; Jose de Nascimento, as procurator; Jose Maria Vitela, as a member of the administrative committee. Other founding members were Gregorio M. Bahia (cabinet maker); Ignacio de Jesus; Bernabe Alvano dos Santos; Bernardino S. de Souza (bricklayer); Pedro Fortunato de Farias (bricklayer); Gregorio de Nascimento (carter); Balthazar dos Reis (cabinet maker); Manoel Sacramento Conceicao Roza (cabinet maker); Teotonio de Souza (vinegar maker); Francisco Jose Repino (caulker); Daniel Correia (wage-earner in Pilar parish); Roberto Tavares (water carrier); Jose Fernandes do O (bacon seller); and Manoel Martins (worker at the Lenha wharf). The sodality placed its safe box in the keeping of the vicar of Santo Antonio parish, the Reverend Joaquim Jose de Sant’Anna. The three different keys to this safe box were kept in the hands of the above mentioned judge, treasurer, and scribe respectively.(54) In August 1832, Manoel Victor Serra proposed the creation of a lottery, with printed tickets of 320 reis, as a potential financial source for the sodality. His proposal was approved and the lottery was named Our Lady of Solitude Lottery (Loteria Nossa Senhora da Soledade).(55)

In 1851, the crioulo sodality was transformed into the Protective Society of the Needy (Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos) after having transferred its headquarters from the chapel in Quinze Misterios Church to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People in the Pelourinho on December 17, 1848. The Protective Society continued to function within the Church of the Rosary until May 10, 1868. Because of disagreements with the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary over use of the church, the Protective Society moved out and rented a place of its own on Rua do Bispo. Since 1877, it has been located at Cruzeiro de Sao Francisco, no. 17, near the Church of Saint Francis, but has continued to have strong ties with the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho.(56) The majority of the members of the Protective Society have also been associated with the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho.

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing the membership composition of the crioulo sodality of Our Lady of Solitude and Support of the Needy. The membership of the Protective Society was restricted only to free-born crioulos, while there was no restriction on the number of members. It surely did not depend on well-to-do whites financially nor even allowed them to become members. The statutes of the Protective Society, approved on August 26, 1873 by the governor of the state of Bahia, limited its membership to “all Brazilian citizens whose color is black (preto), who have sufficient income for subsistence, and who are neither under the age of eighteen nor over fifty.” A member was to pay 15$000 reis as a matriculating fee, and 1$000 reis in monthly dues.(57) Obviously exclusion of wealthy whites who could have made additional endorsements cost every member much higher entrance and monthly fees but it seems to have been worth creating a racially exclusive voluntary association which represented the ciroulos’ own interests.

Whites were not the only group that the Protective Society excluded from its membership; it did not allow either those of African birth or mulattoes to join. What did these strict exclusions mean? Throughout the nineteenth century until the abolition of slavery (1888) the majority of the Brazilian-born slave population in Salvador were classified as blacks (crioulos).(58) In the first national census of 1872, the slave population had been reduced to the one-tenth of the whole population and constituted one quarter of the population of color, while more than 70 per cent of free persons of African descent in Salvador identified themselves as mulattoes (pardos).(59) But this did not mean that all these self-declared “mulatto” people were regarded as mulattoes by the larger society. Having a lighter skin color was a great advantage in Brazilian society, and preference for it was likely to be widely prevalent among the Brazilian-born blacks. In 1855, James Wetherell reported in Salvador that among the “Creole blacks,” a child who was whiter than his/her mother was looked upon with pride.(60) Being black was synonymous with being a slave in Salvador. Therefore Brazilian-born blacks, particularly those who attained a relatively high socioeconomic standing, naturally wanted to identify themselves not as “blacks” but “mulattoes” in the case of census taking. However, one’s choice of “color” was largely limited by his/her own phenotype and one’s self-identification did not always correspond with the larger society’s perception of his/her “color.” Perhaps the Protective Society’s special emphasis on the color of black in its membership represented some free-born blacks’ collective frustrations caused by the larger society’s yet unchanged perceptions of them as “blacks,” regardless of their newly acquired socioeconomic positions (and financial power).

The establishment and development of the Protective Society reflected the emergence of a male artisanal community and the formation of a common class consciousness among this segment of the Brazilian-born black population by the middle of the nineteenth-century. Represented among the membership was a variety of artisans and other skilled urban workers, such as musicians and barber-surgeons, but there were no domestic workers.(61) Furthermore, the Protective Society restricted the age of members from 18 to 50, when male workers could be professionally most productive. The Protective Society was a new type of mutual-aid association exclusively for men who were socio-economically stable. It did not provide any funeral services nor any other charitable activities for members.

The Protective Society’s exclusive character was also very noticeable in its treatment of women and children. The statutes obliged every member to “accompany the entrance of his wife, mother, and children; otherwise, he would be fined 1$000 reis.”(62) Here we see the same kind of concern about family as in the mutual insurance society established within the crioulo sodality of Saint Francis of Paula. Women were included only marginally, in the same way children were, and they were regarded as an “appendix,” either as the wife or mother of a full member, who had to be male. They may suggest a significant reconstruction of gender relations among the free-born blacks around the mid-nineteenth century. Unlike slave women, especially those of African birth, who engaged in the informal market in the city, most free Brazilian-born black women worked as full-time domestic servants in their employers’ houses, while living with their common-law husbands and children. The Protective Society represented the interests of the free black household which was headed by a man who held a stable employment with his artisanal skills.

Concluding Remarks: From Ethnicity to Race and Gender

This essay has discussed the significance of ethnicity in the formation and development of the black sodalities in the colonial period and the early nineteenth century; and the meanings of race and gender in the two black sodalities established by some free-born blacks of Brazilian birth around the time when the laity ceased to participate in their sodalities. Freedom and better socioeconomic standing enabled some free-born blacks to establish new sodalities which would function much more exclusively for their own needs, without relying on charity and financial help from whites, but these sodalities simultaneously excluded free-born black women’s participation to a great degree.

Until the present day the Protective Society of the Needy has continued to develop its collective racial and political consciousness, although its current membership is open to any Brazilian citizen, regardless of race, color, or gender. The Protective Society has been promoting Africanism among the present population of African descent in Salvador by welcoming ambassadors and other visitors from African countries. One older member of the Protective Society traveled to Angola in the early 1980s and another was a perennial candidate for election to the city council. The Protective Society itself has attempted to participate in local politics with mixed results. The Protective Society has remained in close contact with the Black Church in the Pelourinho.

Despite the continuing success of their black association, the members of the present-day Protective Society continue to struggle to define themselves as “blacks.” While they are very proud of their black association, they cannot help but feel being caught between their self-assertion as blacks and the larger society’s perception of their “blackness.” One day during my frequent visits to the Protective Society in 1989 I was told by several longtime-members, including the president, that the criterion for membership during the nineteenth century had been the color of the gums. They had to be black, because those with pink-colored gums were regarded as mulattoes, not blacks. Elderly officeholders showed me their “pink-colored” gums and told me that they would not have been qualified for membership back in the nineteenth century; they would have been “mulattoes.” Needless to say, this “racial” criterion is by no means correct but this story reveals the members’ ambiguous racial identity. They virtually insisted that in the nineteenth century they would not have been identified as “blacks,” who were not favored in the larger society and constituted a lower social stratum than the mulatto population. In other words, they wanted to tell me that they were “black” by choice but they are not “black” in the larger society’s pejorative perception concerning race.

With rare exceptions, the Protective Society did not accept women as members until around 1950. Present-day officeholders of the Protective Society, who are long-time members, insist that the Protective Society did not discriminate against women as regular members, and ascribe the non-participation of women to their historical lack of socio-political consciousness, since most of them were domestic servants. Of course, being domestic servants does not necessarily indicate women’s lack of any collective socio-political consciousness. To our regret, the present-day officeholders’ statement on women reflects much of the gender bias prevalent in contemporary Brazilian culture. Clearly the free-born black men’s political empowerment expressed in the establishment of the Protective Society of the Needy back in the late nineteenth century was not fully shared by their female counterparts. Unfortunately, in Salvador, Brazil, black women’s historical achievements have been largely overlooked and unfairly underestimated within the black community, as well as in the larger society.

Department of History Oneonta, NY 13820


The author is very grateful to Professor William E. Jackson for his help and support; Professors Franklin W. Knight, A.J.R. Russell-Wood, and William B. Taylor for their useful comments on earlier versions of this article; and Professor Peter N. Stearns and an anonymous JSH reviewer for their very insightful suggestions for the revisions of this article for publication.

Research materials are drawn from the following archives: Arquivo Publico do Estado da Bahia, Salvador (APB); Arquivo Municipal da Cidade do Salvador (AMCS); Arquivo da Curia Metropolitana de Sao Salvador da Bahia, Salvador (ACMS); Arquivo da Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Homens Pretos, Salvador (AINS); and Arquivo da Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos, Salvador (ASPD).

1. Lay sodalities did not limit their memberships in terms of gender and admitted both men and women. To my knowledge, in the state of Bahia there is only one existent black sodality whose membership was limited to women: the sodality of Our Lady of the Good Death (irmandade da Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte) which was established by slave women in 1832 in the Reconcavo town of Cachoeira. This black sodality has never accepted any male members. According to the anthropologist Sheila S. Walker, the black sodality of Our Lady of Good Death was established in the Barroquinha Church in Salvador in 1821 and existed in major Bahian towns but all disappeared expect the one in Cachoeira. See Sheila S. Walker, “The Feast of Good Death: An Afro-Catholic Emancipation Celebration in Brazil,” Sage 3, no. 2 (1986): 29. See also Fayette Darcell Wimbery, The African Liberto and the Bahian Lower Class: Social Integration in Nineteenth-Century Bahia, Brazil 1870-1900″ (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Berkeley, 1989), pp. 176-188.

2. On the baptism of enslaved Africans in Angola, see Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil 1809-1815, 2 vols. (London, 1817), vol. 2, pp. 238-239.

3. Primary criterion for membership of the Santa Casa da Misercordia of Bahia (founded in Salvador in 1549), was “purity of blood, without any trait of Moorish or Jewish origin, both in the applicant and his wife.” Likewise, the Third Order of St. Dominic (founded in 1723), which was established by very successful immigrants from Porto, Viana do Minho, and Lisbon, did not accept Indians, persons of African descent, Jews, and even poor whites as its members, and maintained the requirement of “purity of blood” (limpeza de sangue). Neither did the Third Order of St. Francis (founded in 1635). See A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Fidalgos and Philanthropists. The Santa Casa da Misericordia of Bahia, 1550-1755 (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1968), p. 124; and Joao Jose Reis, A morte e uma festa: ritos funebres e revolta popular no Brasil do seculo XIX (Sao Paulo, 1991), p. 53.

4. Mulatto sodalities were often dedicated to Our Lady of the Liberation (Nossa Senhora do Livramento), Our Lady of Succour (Nossa Senhora do Amparo), Our Lady of Conception Nossa Senhora do Conceicao) or Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nossa Senhora do Guadelupe). Mulattoes established separate sodalities in Salvador such as the sodality of Our Jesus of the Cross (irmandade de Nosso Senhor Jesus da Cruz) in the Church of Palma; and the sodality of Our Lord of Good Jesus of Patience (irmandade do Nosso Senhor Born Jesus da Pacientia) and the sodality of Our Lady of Conception of Boqueirao (irmandade da Nossa Senhora da Conceicao do Boqueirao), both in the church of Sao Pedro parish. See Pierre Verger, Trade Relations between the Bight of Benin and Bahia from the 17th to 19th Century, trans. by Evelyn Crawford (Ibadan, Nigeria, 1976), p. 465; and idem, Noticias da Bahia – 1850 (Sao Paulo: Corrupio, 1981), p. 65. On the establishment of the irmandade de Nosso Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz (1751) and its oral tradition, see Ignacio Accioli de Cerqueira e Silva, Memorias historicas e politicas da Bahia, 6 viols. (Salvador, 1931), vol. 5, p. 241.

5. Patricia A. Mulvey, “Black Brothers and Sisters: Membership in the Black Lay Sodalities of Colonial Brazil: Their Role in Colonial Societies,” The Americas, 39 no. 1 (1982): 57; Stuart B. Schwartz, “The Manumission of Slaves in Colonial Brazil: Bahia, 1684-1745,” Hispanic American Historical Review 55, no. 4 (Nov. 1974): p. 618; and Mieko Nishida, “Manumission and Ethnicity in Urban Slavery: Salvador, Brazil, 1808-1888,” Hispanic American Historical Review, 73, no. 3 (Aug. 1993): 379.

6. Manoel S. Cardozo, “The Lay Brotherhoods of Colonial Brazil,” Catholic Historical Review, 33, no. 1 (1947): 12-30: A.J.R. Russell-Wood, “Black and Mulatto Brotherhoods in Colonial Brazil: A Study in Collective Behavior,” Hispanic American Historical Review, 54, no. 4 (1974): 567-602; Julita Scarano, Devocao e escravidao: A irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos pretos no distorito diamantino no seculo XVIII, 2nd ed. (Sao Paulo, 1978) and idem., “Black Brotherhoods: Integration or Contradiction?,” Luso Brazilian Review, 16, no. 1 (1979): 1-17; Patricia A. Mulvey, “The Black Lay Brotherhoods of Colonial Brazil” (Ph.D. diss., City College of New York, 1976); idem., “Black Brothers and Sisters”; and Caio Cesar Boschi, Os leigos e o poder (Irmandades leigas e politica colonizadora em Minas Gerais) (Sao Paulo, 1986).

7. Katia M. de Queiros Mattoso, Bahia, seculo XIX: urea provincia no imperio (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), p. 404; Scarano, “Black Brotherhoods,” p. 11; and Maria Ines Cortes da Oliveria, O liberto: o seu mundo e os outros (Sao Paulo, 1988), pp. 84-85.

8. Nishida, “Manumission and Ethnicity,” p. 365.

9. Russell-Wood, “Black and Mulatto Brotherhoods,” p. 576.

10. Russell-Wood, “Black and Mulatto Brotherhoods,” p. 595; ibid., “Examination of Selected Statutes,” pp. 224-245; and Cardoso, “Lay Brotherhoods,” pp. 24-30.

11. Stuart B. Schwartz’s study of manumission in colonial Bahia does not report a single case in which a slave purchased his/her freedom with a loan from a sodality. See Schwartz, “Manumission.” Manumission letters registered in Salvador during the nineteenth century do not include such a case either. Wills of ex-slaves included only one case in which an African-born slave man from Costa da Mina purchased his freedom with a manumission fund borrowed from a black sodality of the Rosary in Lisbon. See Nishida, “Manumission and Ethnicity,” p. 385; and APB, Secao Judiciaria, Livros de registro de testamentos, no. 23, fls. 186-189.

12. Arquivo Historico Ultramarino (Lisbon), Bahia, papeis avulsos, caixa 48 (July 8, 1733), cited by Stuart B. Schwartz, “Plantations and Peripheries, c. 1580-c. 1750,” in Leslie Bethell, ed., Colonial Brazil (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 138-139.

13. This black church was often called the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People on Shoemakers Street (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Homens Pretos da baixa dos Sapateiros) or . . . at the gates of the Carmelite monastery (. . . nas Portas do Carmo) because of its geographical location.

14. “Compromissio da Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos pretos da praya, ano de 1686,” chapters VI and XIX, published in A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Society and Government in Colonial Brazil, 1500-1822 (Bookfield, VT, 1992), pp. 250-253; and Cardoso, “Lay Brotherhoods,” pp. 24-30. Chapter II of the 1699 statutes of the black sodality of Saint Anthony of Catagerona in Sao Pedro parish stipulates that a judge, a scribe, a treasurer, a procurator, and an unspecified number of majordomos should be elected by crioulo members, while a judge, a scribe, a treasurer, a procurator, and an unspecified number of majordomos were to be elected by Angolan members. Brazilian-born black women (crioulas) and Angolan women should elect their respective officers in the same manner. Manuscript sources on this sodality, including its statutes dated 1699 and 1764, are located in the historical manuscript collection of the Oliveira Lima Library at the Catholic University of America. See Cardoso, “Black Brotherhoods.”

15. AINS, Livro de entradas dos irmaos (1722-1786). Among those who were admitted to the sodality between 1722 and 1786, only 1,959 (720 men and 1,239 women) members were listed with some indication of legal status and/or origin. They comprised 1,319 slaves (67.3%), 259 freedpersons (13.2%), and 36 whites (1.8%). African-born members with specific ethnic identifications amounted to 238, while 264 Brazilian-born members were counted. New members of African birth (total 198) were composed of 115 West Africans (103 Geges, 40 Minas, 10 Nagos, and 2 Calabars), 69 Angolans, 14 others (13 Benguelas and 1 Mozambique), while Brazilian-born members (total 264) were divided into 142 crioulos, 122 mulattoes.

16. For the years from 1798 to 1865 the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho accepted 1,505 new members. See Jeferson Afonso Bacelar and Maria Conceicao Barbosa de Sousa, O Rosario dos Pretos do Pelourinho (Salvador, 1974), pp. 15-19. The African-born members were composed of 126 West Africans (97 Geges, 20 Minas, and 9 Nago), 35 Angolans 11 others (9 Benguelas and 1 Mozambique). The Church has lost the Livro de entradas de irmaos (1798-1865), which Bacelor and Sousa used for their research. This black sodality still keeps a register of admissions of new members, listed in alphabetical order, for part of the nineteenth century. This booklet listed 282 members (31 males and 251 females): 176 slaves, 55 freedpersons, and 51 whites and free-born persons of color. They included 30 African-born (18 Geges, 4 Angolans, 3 Nagos, 1 Mina, 1 Congo, 6 unspecified), 36 crioulos, 23 mulattoes, and 9 whites. See AINS, Livro de lancamento de irmaos, seculo XIX. The exact years which this register of admission covered are not mentioned.

17. Arquivo Historico Ultramarino (Lisbon), Documentos da Bahia, no. 12235, cited by Verger, Trade Relations, p. 464-65; also cited by Russell-Wood, “Black and Mulatto Brotherhoods,” p. 573, note 12.

18. Verger, Trade Relations, p. 465. According to Pierre Verger, these sodalities were exclusive to specific African “nations” in the membership (ibid.), but there is no evidence available to support his assertion.

19. Nishida, “Manumission and Ethnicity,” pp. 283-284.

20. “Compromissio da Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos pretos da praya, ano de 1686,” chapters VI and XIX, published in Russell-Wood, Society and Government, pp. 250-253; and AINS, Compromisso da Irmandade da Nossa Senhora dos homens pretos no ano de 1820. In order to solve the problems derived from internal power struggle and discord, the statues of the black sodality were modified in 1769 and further chapters were added in 1820. See Russell-Wood, “Examination of Selected Statues,” p. 224.

21. Mulvey, “Black Brothers and Sisters,” p. 258. In the new statutes of the black sodalities of the Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho (1820), the scribe and treasurer had to be able to read, write, and count, and this qualification meant that no longer were such elective posts to be exclusively held by whites. This regulation also applied to caretakers. There were some changes in the new statutes. Provision of funds for the purchase of freedom by slave members had been eliminated, but charitable activities themselves had been expanded to reach out to the sick, poor, and imprisoned. Interestingly, the sodality extended its religious celebrations, with the new annual service held in honor of the patron saint, in addition to the mass and sermon on the third of October which had been stipulated in the old statutes of 1686. See AINS, Compromisso da Irmandade da Nossa Senhora do homens pretos no ano de 1820. On the dependent nature of African-Brazilian Catholicism in the slavery regime in general, see Roger Bastide, The African Religions in Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilizations, trans. by Helen Sebba (Baltimore, 1978), pp. 109-125.

22. Russell-Wood, “Black and Mulatto Brotherhoods,” p. 587.

23. James Wetherell, Brazil. Stray Notes from Bahia: Being Extracts from Letters, &.c, during a Residence of Fifteen Years, ed. by William Hadfield (Liverpool, 1860), pp. 113-114.

24. See Reis, A morte e uma festa, p. 54.

25. APB, Livros de registro de testamentos, nos. 3-34.

26. APB, Livro de registro de testamentos, no. 5, fs. 202B-206. Anna Maria died on October 15, 1815.

27. Ibid., no. 31, fs. 154-157B (February 6, 1844).

28. Bastide, African Religions, p. 113. See, also, Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South (New York, 1978), p. 24. Out of the 165 black sodalities of colonial Brazil Mulvey studied, 86 were dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. See Murvey, “Black Brothers and Sisters,” p. 256.

29. Koster, Travels in Brazil, vol. 2., p. 240.

30. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 241. See, also, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 273-275.

31. Bastide, African Religions, p. 113.

32. Ibid., pp. 113, 116.

33. Verger, Noticias da Bahia, p. 66.

34. Raboteau, Slave Religion, pp. 19, 24.

35. The edifice of the church still stands, empty and unrepaired, but the statues of the saints and documents have been stolen. According to Sheila Walker, the first candomble temple in Salvador was established by women from the Barroquinha Church. See Walker, “Feast of Good Death,” p. 29.

36. AMCS, Livro de posturas, fs. 119.1, fs. 63, 152 (February 12, 1710). In her sample of 100 wills of freedpersons (69 men and 31 women) for the period 1863-1890, Katia Mattoso found two wills of freedmen who stipulated that they be buried in accordance with African customs. See Katia M. de Queiros Mattoso, Testamentos de escravos libertos na Bahia no seculo XIX: uma fonte para o estudo de mentalidades (Salvador, Bahia, 1979), p. 25 (Tabela 4).

37. Raboteau, Slave Religion, pp. 12-13.

38. Cf. In the city of Rio de Janeiro, the American Reverend D. P. Kidder identified the funeral of an African-born person he had witnessed in Engenho Velho in 1839 with the custom held on the Gabon River of Africa. See James C. Fletcher and Daniel P. Kidder, Brazil and the Brazilians. Portrayed in Historical and Descriptive Sketches. 9th ed. (Boston, 1879), p. 136. Also see Robert Edgar Conrad, Children of God’s Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in Brazil (Princeton, 1983), pp. 147-149.

39. Mattoso, Bahia, seculo XIX, p. 401 and p. 400.

40. Oliveria, O liberto, p. 84.

41. APB, Livros de registro de testamentos, nos. 35-61. This confirms the findings of Katia Mattoso in her study of 200 wills of freed persons in Salvador. According to her analysis, for the years 1790-1826 those who did not belong to any sodality numbered only 14.9 per cent of men and 17.0 per cent of women. These relatively low percentages escalated to 98.5 per cent for men and 87.0 per cent for women for the period 1863-1890. Mattoso, Testamentos de escravos libertos, p. 23 (Tabela 2). Mattoso consulted 100 wills of freedpersons for each period: 53 men and 47 women for 1790-1826; and 31 men and 69 women for 1863-1890. Oliveira’s study of 482 wills of freedpersons for 17901890 strongly supports this point and furthermore indicates a gradual process of change in freedpersons’ attitudes towards lay sodalities. The percentages of those who did not mention membership of any sodality are 21.6% (men) and 18.5% (women) for 17901830; 50.0% (men) and 42.4% (women) for 1830-1850; and 96.1% (men) and 84.2% (women) for 1850-1890. See Oliveira, Liberto, p. 84.

42. APB, Livros de registro de testamentos.

43. AINS, Livro de termo e resolucao, f. 104. These data do not have any breakdown by legal distinction, birthplace, or color. Among the ex-slaves who registered their wills, 13 men and 20 women memberships in this specific black sodality for 1808-1849 but for 1850-1888 only one was the member of this sodality. See APB, Livros de registro de testamentos.

44. Wetherell, Brazil: Stray Notes form Bahia, p. 79.

45. David Etlis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York, 1987), p. 244.

46. Brasil, Diretoria Geral de Estatistica, Recenceamento do populacao de Imperio do Brazil a que se procedeu no dia 1 de agosto de 1872 (Rio de Janeiro, 1973-76), pp. 508 and 510.

47. In the late colonial period Brazilian-born blacks (crioulos) had established sodalities dedicated to Good Jesus of Martyrs (Sr. Born Jesus dos Martirios), and venerated Saint Benedict in all churches in Salvador. See Verger, Trade Relations, p. 465. But, of course, most of those Brazilian-born blacks were slaves and their sodalities seem to have been inclusive in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, as in the case of “African” black sodalities.

48. Compromisso da Irmandade do Glorioso Sao Francisco de Paula Filial a Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Pilar, de crioulos livres nascidos no Imperio do Brazil, ano de 1844, Arquivo da Veneravel Ordem Terceira de Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo (Salvador, Brazil). I am grateful to Professor A.J.R. Russell-Wood for a xerox copy of this compromisso (statutes).

49. See Joao Jose Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia, trans. by Arthur Brakel (Baltimore, 1993).

50. Russell-Wood, “Examination of Selected Statues,” pp. 247-248; and idem., “Black and Mulatto Brotherhoods,” pp. 577-578.

51. Compromisso da Irmandade do Glorioso Sao Francisco de Paula (1844), chapters 21-32, Arquivo da Veneravel Ordem Terceira de Nossa Senhora do Monte de Carmo; and A.J.R. Russell-Wood, The Black Man in Slavery and Freedom in Colonial Brazil (New York, 1982), p. 152.

52. In the remaining census records of 1855, among the free population, 52.2% of the couples who shared the same households were not married. See Katia M. de Queiros de Mattoso, Familia e sociedade na Bahia do seculo XIX, trans. by James Amado (Sao Paulo, 1988), p. 82.

53. The statutes of the black sodality housed in the Church of Quinze Misterios have been lost, and failure to maintain the Church has eliminated any hope of finding them.

54. ASPD, Livro de termos do ano de 1832; Verger, Trade Relations, pp. 457-459; and Julio Santana Braga, Sociedade protetora dos desvalidos: uma irmandade de cor (Salvador, Bahia, 1987). Not only did both Verger and Braga misidentify Manoel Victor Serra and his fellowmen as free (or freed) Africans, but misinterpreted the primary purpose of the Protective Society as an emancipation pool (junta de alforria). Their argument was grounded on the presence of the safe box, which still exists in the Protective Society, but sodalities often had safe boxes. For example, see chapter 18 of the statutes of the Black Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho.

55. ASPD, Livro de termos e acordaos, f. 7B (August 4, 1833).

56. Manoel Francisco dos Santos, Discurso Proferido na Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos (1876), APB, maco 5306.

57. Estatutos da Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos (1873), titulo 1 and art. 9, published by Braga, in Sociedade protetora, pp. 79-89. I was not able to consult the original copy of the Estatutos (1873), since Sr. Aloisio Conceicao Rocha, who is in charge of their archives, could not locate it during my research period. The statutes of the present-day Protective Society do not limit membership in terms of skin color or gender. The Protective Society has both female members and white members, although it has been always predominantly an association of black males. See Estututos da Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos (Bahia, 1974).

58. AMCS, Livros de escrituras de compra e venda de escravos, freguesia da Se; APB, Inventarios da capital; and APB, Livros de notas and maco 2880.

59. Brasil, Recenseamento, p. 508.

60. Wetherell, Brazil. Stray Notes from Bahia, p. 85.

61. ASPD, Livro de matriculas (1870-1950); and Documentos dos anos (1870-1874).

62. Estatutos da Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos (1873), art. 11.

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