Orixas

by ruthsmason

image A wonderful find in Salvador which will end my posts on this intriguing city was MAFRO, the Museu Afro-Brasileiro. It houses artifacts from both Africa and Brazil and when we visited it had a special exhibit of costumes from the Congo. But the most memorable section of the museum houses twenty-six panels of carved cedar that depict orixas–the gods and goddesses still alive and well in Bahia. They live on in the lives of many of the descendants of slaves. Each image has powers over aspects of nature and also human strengths or traits. They symbolize a day, a color, a quality to be wished for or avoided. The intricacies of these orixas will take a long time to unravel, so in the moment there I focused on the amazing craftsmanship of the artist who had carved the panels. Hector Julio Paride Bernabo lived with, studied and was taken in as a member of a candomble. His name became Carybe, and above is his depiction of Oxalufan–old and wise, the orixa of procreation; a strong god in his youth, this image shows him in his old age. Below him was this image of a snail.
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Other images of the goddess of the sea, of hunters, of the rainbow which represents wealth, and so many more works covered the four walls. image
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I went back to this room in the MAFRO twice to admire the craftsmanship and to soak up the images, the myths and the magic: Baba-Abaola, Exu, Ogun, Oxossi, Omulu, Nan, Ibualama, Logun Ede; such other worldly names. If you get to Salvador de Bahia, the work of Carybe is a must see.