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Not to be confused with Candombe. Candomblé_sentence_0


TypeCandomblé_header_cell_0_1_0 SyncreticCandomblé_cell_0_1_1
ClassificationCandomblé_header_cell_0_2_0 Afro-Brazilian religionCandomblé_cell_0_2_1
PriesthoodCandomblé_header_cell_0_3_0 Iyalorisha and BabalorishaCandomblé_cell_0_3_1
AssociationsCandomblé_header_cell_0_4_0 Order of Our Lady of the Good DeathCandomblé_cell_0_4_1
RegionCandomblé_header_cell_0_5_0 Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, United States, PortugalCandomblé_cell_0_5_1
OriginCandomblé_header_cell_0_6_0 19th century

Salvador, BrazilCandomblé_cell_0_6_1

SeparationsCandomblé_header_cell_0_7_0 Candomblé Bantu

Candomblé Jejé Candomblé KetuCandomblé_cell_0_7_1

MembersCandomblé_header_cell_0_8_0 167,363 (Brazil, 2010)

2,000,000 (worldwide)Candomblé_cell_0_8_1

Candomblé (Portuguese pronunciation: [kɐ̃dõmˈblɛ, "dance in honour of the gods") is an Afro-Brazilian religion that developed in Brazil during the early 19th century. Candomblé_sentence_1

It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity. Candomblé_sentence_2

There is no central authority in control of the movement. Candomblé_sentence_3

Candomblé is monotheistic, involving the veneration of spirits known as orishas who work as intermediaries for the Supreme Being called Oludumaré. Candomblé_sentence_4

These are often identified both as Yoruba Orishas as well as Roman Catholic saints. Candomblé_sentence_5

Various myths and stories are told about these orishas. Candomblé_sentence_6

As an oral tradition, it does not have holy scriptures. Candomblé_sentence_7

Practitioners of Candomblé believe in a Supreme Creator called Oludumaré, who is served by lesser deities, which are called Orishas. Candomblé_sentence_8

Every practitioner is believed to have their own tutelary orisha, which controls his or her destiny and acts as a protector. Candomblé_sentence_9

Music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies, since the dances enable worshippers to become in trance with the orishas. Candomblé_sentence_10

In the rituals, participants make offerings like minerals, vegetables, and animals. Candomblé_sentence_11

Candomblé does not include the duality of good and evil; each person is required to fulfill their destiny to the fullest, regardless of what that is. Candomblé_sentence_12

Candomblé developed among Afro-Brazilian communities amid the Atlantic slave trade of the 16th to 19th centuries. Candomblé_sentence_13

It arose through the blending of the traditional religions brought to Brazil by enslaved West and Central Africans, the majority of them Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu, and the Roman Catholic teachings of the Portuguese colonialists who then controlled the area. Candomblé_sentence_14

Between 1549 and 1888, the religion developed in Brazil, influenced by the knowledge of enslaved African priests who continued to teach their religion, their culture, and language. Candomblé_sentence_15

In addition, Candomblé absorbed elements of Roman Catholicism and includes indigenous American traditions. Candomblé_sentence_16

Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, and is also practiced in other countries, including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, having as many as two million followers. Candomblé_sentence_17

Definition and terminology Candomblé_section_0

Candomblé is a religion. Candomblé_sentence_18

Candomblé has been described as "one of the major religious expressions of the African Diaspora". Candomblé_sentence_19

The anthropologist Paul Christopher Johnson stated that, "at its most basic level", Candomblé can be defined as "the practice of exchange with orixás." Candomblé_sentence_20

He also defined it as "a Brazilian redaction of West African religions recreated in the radically new context of a nineteenth-century Catholic slave colony." Candomblé_sentence_21

Johnson characterized Cuban Santería and Haitian Vodou as "sister religions" of Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_22

There is no central doctrinal authority in the religion. Candomblé_sentence_23

Candomblé is an oral tradition and does not have holy texts. Candomblé_sentence_24

The word Candomblé means "dance in honour of the gods", and music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies. Candomblé_sentence_25

Some priests and priestesses would not initiate anyone into Candomblé who was not already a baptised Roman Catholic. Candomblé_sentence_26

There is regional variation in the beliefs and practices of Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_27

Some practitioners also refer to it as a form of science. Candomblé_sentence_28

Candomblé is closely related to another nineteenth-century Brazilian religion, Umbanda, as both as Afro-Brazilian religions involving the worship of orisha. Candomblé_sentence_29

Umbanda is usually more open and public than Candomblé, with its religious songs being sung in Portuguese. Candomblé_sentence_30

There are some practitioners that engage in both practices; a terreiro that practices both refers to it as "Umbandomblé." Candomblé_sentence_31

A newer initiate is known as an iaô, and an elder initiate is known as an ebomi. Candomblé_sentence_32

Beliefs Candomblé_section_1

Knowledge about Candomblé is referred to as the fundamentos. Candomblé_sentence_33

The Orishas Candomblé_section_2

Candomblé focuses on the worship of the orishas or orixás. Candomblé_sentence_34

Practitioners varyingly define these orishas as "African sprits," "energies", or "forces of nature", and they are often conceived as being ancestral figures. Candomblé_sentence_35

The orishas are believed to mediate between humanity and Olorun, the creator deity. Candomblé_sentence_36

In Candomblé, the relationship between the orishas and humanity is seen as being one of interdependence, with practitioners seeking to build harmonious relationships with these deities. Candomblé_sentence_37

Each orisha is associated with specific colours, foods, animals, and minerals. Candomblé_sentence_38

The orisha Exú is regarded as a trickster; he is always fed first in any ritual. Candomblé_sentence_39

Exú guards entrances. Candomblé_sentence_40

These West African deities have been equated with various Roman Catholic saints. Candomblé_sentence_41

From the later twentieth century, some practitioners have attempted to distance the orishas from the saints as a means of re-emphasising the religion's West African origins. Candomblé_sentence_42

In Candomblé altars, the orishas are often represented with images and statues of Roman Catholic saints. Candomblé_sentence_43

For instance, the orisha Oxum has been conflated with Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Candomblé_sentence_44

Each day of the week is associated with a different orisha; the priesthood also states that each year is governed by a specific orisha who will influence the events taking place within it. Candomblé_sentence_45

Candomblé teaches that every individual has a particular orisha whom they are connected to. Candomblé_sentence_46

It is taught that the individual of this orisha can be ascertained through divination. Candomblé_sentence_47

This orisha is described as being the "master or mistress of the person's head." Candomblé_sentence_48

It is believed that they have an influence on the person's personality and social interactions. Candomblé_sentence_49

Failing to identify one's orisha is sometimes interpreted as the cause of various types of mental illness by practitioners. Candomblé_sentence_50

Depending on the orisha in question, an initiate may choose to avoid or to engage in certain activities, such as not eating specific foods or wear specific colours. Candomblé_sentence_51

Candomblé is a Monotheistic religion and believe in a Supreme creator named Olodumare or Olorun. Candomblé_sentence_52

A number of lesser deities gods: known as Orixas are also worshipped and believed to fulfill the will of Olodumare in respect to the lives of humanity. Candomblé_sentence_53

It is similar in structure to the Catholic faith, where practitioners will pray for help from the saints rather than appealing directly to God except in dire circumstances. Candomblé_sentence_54


These deities are believed to have been created by a supreme God, Olodumare (called Nzambi by the Kongo people; and Nana Buluku by the Fon people). Candomblé_sentence_55

The orishas and similar figures form a link between the spiritual world and the world of humans. Candomblé_sentence_56

Candomblé practitioners believe that every person has their own tutelary deity which controls his or her destiny and acts as a protector. Candomblé_sentence_57

Each deity represents a certain force in nature and is associated with certain foods, colors, animals, and days of the week. Candomblé_sentence_58

A person's character or personality is strongly linked to their deity. Candomblé_sentence_59

Collectively, ancestors are called Egum in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_60

During important ceremonies, priests and priestesses masquerade as Baba Egum and specially choreographed dances will be performed in order to become possessed of each ancestor spirit. Candomblé_sentence_61

Birth and the dead Candomblé_section_3

The otherworld of the ancestors is called orun. Candomblé_sentence_62

Ashe Candomblé_section_4

Candomblé teaches the existence of a force called ashe or axé. Candomblé_sentence_63

Walker described this ashe "the spiritual force of the universe", while Johnson descried it as "a creative spiritual force with real material effects." Candomblé_sentence_64

Practitioners believe ashe can be transmitted and that a human can have a growing or diminishing supply of it. Candomblé_sentence_65

Practitioners believe that they can attract and share ashe during ritual acts. Candomblé_sentence_66

Morality, ethics, and gender roles Candomblé_section_5

The teachings of Candomblé influence the daily life of its practitioners. Candomblé_sentence_67

Problems that arise in a person's life are often interpreted as resulting from a disharmony in an individual's relationship with their orisha. Candomblé_sentence_68

Candomblé does not include the duality of a concept of good opposed to evil. Candomblé_sentence_69

Each person is required only to fulfil his or her destiny to the fullest in order to live a 'good' life, regardless of what that destiny is. Candomblé_sentence_70

This is not a free ticket to do whatever the practitioner wants, though. Candomblé_sentence_71

Candomblé teaches that any evil a person causes to others will return to the first person eventually. Candomblé_sentence_72

Egúm are important in regulating the moral code of Candomblé practitioners. Candomblé_sentence_73

It is their responsibility to make sure that moral standards of the past are continued in the present. Candomblé_sentence_74

This is regulated during worship ceremonies. Candomblé_sentence_75

When a person becomes possessed of their ancestor spirit during the ceremony, they may act out scenes from the community to highlight both good and bad actions in a sort of public tribunal. Candomblé_sentence_76

Male/female polarity is a recurring theme throughout Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_77

Many roles within Candomblé are linked to members of a specific gender. Candomblé_sentence_78

For instance, both animal sacrifice and the shaving of an initiate's head are usually reserved for male practitioners, while female practitioners are typically responsible for domestic duties in maintaining the ritual space. Candomblé_sentence_79

Such divisions mirror broader gender norms in Brazilian society. Candomblé_sentence_80

However, women can still wield significant power as the heads of the terreiros. Candomblé_sentence_81

There is evidence that Candomblé encourages forms of sexual and gender non-conformity at odds with mainstream Brazilian society. Candomblé_sentence_82

Although many prominent male priests in the religion have been heterosexual, there is also a pervasive stereotype that the majority of Candomblé's male practitioners are homosexual. Candomblé_sentence_83

Male homosexuals have described the religion as offering a more welcoming environment for them than forms of Christianity practiced in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_84

They for instance have cited stories of relationships between male orishas, such as Oxôssi and Ossain, as affirming male same-sex attraction. Candomblé_sentence_85

Practices Candomblé_section_6

Johnson noted that some practitioners regard Candomblé as a religion "of right practice instead of right doctrine", in that performing its rituals are correctly are deemed more important that believing in the orishas. Candomblé_sentence_86

Johnson noted that Candomblé devoted "little attention" to "abstract theologizing". Candomblé_sentence_87

Rituals are often focused on pragmatic needs regarding issues such as prosperity, health, love, and fecundity. Candomblé_sentence_88

Those engaging in Candomblé include various initiates of varying degrees and non-initiates who may attend events and approach initiates seeking help with various problems. Candomblé_sentence_89

Johnson characterised Candomblé as a secret society. Candomblé_sentence_90

Houses of Worship Candomblé_section_7

A building in which Candomblé is practiced is known as a terreiros ("house"). Candomblé_sentence_91

Each terreiro is distinct and operates in its own way. Candomblé_sentence_92

They can be competitive towards one another, seeking to attract a greater number of followers. Candomblé_sentence_93

These range in size from small houses to large compounds, and consist of a series of rooms, some of which are considered off-limits to non-initiates. Candomblé_sentence_94

They contain an altar to the deities, a space to perform ceremonies, and accommodation for the priests or priestesses. Candomblé_sentence_95

One room, the barracão, is where public rituals, including acts of divination, take place. Candomblé_sentence_96

Most terreiros venerate between twelve and twenty orisha. Candomblé_sentence_97

A priest or priestess is in charge of the terreiro and is not constrained by external religious authorities. Candomblé_sentence_98

The prominent place of priestesses within Candomblé has led some observers to describe it as a matriarchal religion, although such a characterisation has been disputed. Candomblé_sentence_99

The priest and priestess is assisted by the iyakekerê ("little mother") and the alabê (musical director). Candomblé_sentence_100

Terreriros are understood to contain ashé which is linked to its lineage. Candomblé_sentence_101

This ashé can be transferred from a mother-terreiro to a new one being established. Candomblé_sentence_102

Public ceremonies take place at the terreiros where both initiates and non-initiates can attend to celebrate the orishas. Candomblé_sentence_103

At these, food is offered to specific orichas while the rest is shared among participants, with the latter thereby gaining some of the ache of the orichas. Candomblé_sentence_104

These public rites are both preceded and succeeded by a range of private ritual acts. Candomblé_sentence_105

Most of the rituals that take place at the terreiros are private and open only to initiates. Candomblé_sentence_106

Walker believed that it was these that represented "the real core of the religious life of the Candomblé community." Candomblé_sentence_107

Yoruba is used as a ritual language, although few practitioners understand the meanings of these Yoruba words. Candomblé_sentence_108

There are no specific sacred texts. Candomblé_sentence_109

Ritual objects are regarded as loci and accumulators of ashe, although this supply needs replenishing at various intervals. Candomblé_sentence_110

Each terreiro is also regarded as having its own ashe, which is strengthened by the number of initiates it has and the number of rituals it carries out. Candomblé_sentence_111

Priests and priestesses are regarded as intermediaries between the orishas and humanity. Candomblé_sentence_112

Becoming initiated implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between the new initiate and the orishas. Candomblé_sentence_113

Offerings and animal sacrifice Candomblé_section_8

Food is offered to the orisha, often being placed at an appropriate location in the landscape; offerings to Oxum are for instance often placed by a freshwater stream. Candomblé_sentence_114

When placed in the terreiro, food is typically left in place for between one and three days, sufficient time for the orisha to consume the essence of the food. Candomblé_sentence_115

The individual who conducts the sacrifice is known as an axogun. Candomblé_sentence_116

Initiation Candomblé_section_9

Candomblé is structured around a hierarchical system of initiations. Candomblé_sentence_117

Initiates in Candomblé are known as filhos de santo ("children of the saints"). Candomblé_sentence_118

The length of the initiatory process varies between Candomblé houses but usually lasts from a few weeks to a few months. Candomblé_sentence_119

During much of this process, the initiate is usually secluded in a special room; the rite is private. Candomblé_sentence_120

During this period they are taught the various details of their associated orisha, such as its likes and dislikes and the appropriate drum rhythms and dances that invoke that deity. Candomblé_sentence_121

They will be bathed in water mixed with herbs. Candomblé_sentence_122

Their head will often also be shaved. Candomblé_sentence_123

One of the first acts during the initiatory process is to give the initiate a string of beads associated with their orisha. Candomblé_sentence_124

These beads will often be washed and sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed animal. Candomblé_sentence_125

These beads are sometimes perceived as protecting the wearer from harm. Candomblé_sentence_126

At a subsequent level of initiation, the orisha is "seated" within the individual's head. Candomblé_sentence_127

Following the initiation, the new initiate may be presented to the rest of the community through a public ceremony. Candomblé_sentence_128

Over the course of the following year, the initiate may conduct further "obligations" to build their relationship with the orisha. Candomblé_sentence_129

Candomblé includes a number of additional, graded initiations, which are expected to take place one year, three years, and then seven years after the original initiatory ceremony. Candomblé_sentence_130

In practice, many adherents cannot afford to pay for these ceremonies at the specified time and they instead take place many years after. Candomblé_sentence_131

Possession Candomblé_section_10

Within Candomblé, it is regarded as a privilege to be possessed by an orisha. Candomblé_sentence_132

As it entails being "mounted, being possessed is regarded as being a symbolically female role. Candomblé_sentence_133

For this reason, many heterosexual men refuse initiation into Candomblé; some believe that involvement in these rites can turn a man homosexual. Candomblé_sentence_134

Among practitioners, it is sometimes claimed that in the past men did not take part in the dances that lead to possession. Candomblé_sentence_135

The city of Salvador in Bahia is regarded as a holy city by practitioners of Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_136

Divination Candomblé_section_11

The most common form of divination in Brazil is the jogo dos buzios ("shell game"). Candomblé_sentence_137

Both men and women are permitted to practice this. Candomblé_sentence_138

Healing Candomblé_section_12

One type of ceremony is known as the bori. Candomblé_sentence_139

This entails placing food on the individual's head to feed the orisha that is believed to partially reside within the cranium. Candomblé_sentence_140

This may be conducted to bolster the individual's health and well-being or to give them additional strength before an important undertaking. Candomblé_sentence_141

History Candomblé_section_13

Candomblé formed in the early part of the nineteenth century. Candomblé_sentence_142

Although African religions had been present in Brazil since the early 16th century, Johnson noted that Candomblé, as "an organized, structured liturgy and community of practice called Candomblé" only arose later. Candomblé_sentence_143

Origins Candomblé_section_14

Candomblé originated among enslaved Africans who were transplanted to Brazil during the Atlantic slave trade. Candomblé_sentence_144

The first African slaves to arrive in Brazil did so in the 1530s. Candomblé_sentence_145

Brazil received a larger number of enslaved Africans than any other part of the Americas; Bahia had the highest concentration of these enslaved Africans in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_146

The precise number of Africans brought to Brazil is not known, although conservative estimates usually argue that the number was around four million. Candomblé_sentence_147

Between 1775 and 1850, the majority of the enslaved people brought to Brazil came from the Gulf of Benin, largely in what is now Benin and Nigeria. Candomblé_sentence_148

Many of those brought from this area were speakers of Yoruba languages. Candomblé_sentence_149

On being brought to Brazil, these slaves were divided into "nations", primarily on their port of embarkation rather than their original etho-cultural identities. Candomblé_sentence_150

This process meant that Africans of different cultural backgrounds, regions, and religions were thrown together under a unifying term such as "Nagô", the latter used for those exported from the Bight of Benin. Candomblé_sentence_151

This meant that the deities venerated in different regions in Africa were brought together as part of the same pantheon. Candomblé_sentence_152

Whereas in Africa, people had generally venerated deities associated with their specific region, these commitments were broken up by the process of enslavement and transportation. Candomblé_sentence_153

The Roman Catholic nature of Brazilian colonial society, which allowed for a cult of saints, may have permitted greater leeway for the survival of traditional African religions than were available in Protestant-dominant areas of the Americas. Candomblé_sentence_154

Many of the slaves learned to classify their orishas in relation to the Roman Catholic saints and the calendar of saints' days. Candomblé_sentence_155

There is no evidence that the slaves simply used the cult of saints to conceal orisha worship, but rather that devotees understood the two pantheons as comprising similar figures with similar abilities to fix certain problems. Candomblé_sentence_156

Some ecclesiastical figures in the Roman Catholic Church saw the syncretisation as a positive step in the process of converting the Africans to Christianity. Candomblé_sentence_157

Among slave owners, there was also a belief that allowing the slaves to continue their traditional religions would allow old enmities between different African communities to persevere, thus making it less likely the slaves would unify and turn against the slave-owners. Candomblé_sentence_158

It was also thought that allowing the slaves to take part in their traditional customs would expend energies that might otherwise be directed toward rebellion. Candomblé_sentence_159

Although the Church succeeded in many cases, not all slaves converted. Candomblé_sentence_160

Many outwardly practiced Christianity but secretly prayed to their own God, gods, or ancestor spirits. Candomblé_sentence_161

In Brazil, adherents of Candomblé saw in the Catholic veneration of saints a similarity with their own religion. Candomblé_sentence_162

Bantu followers found a shared system of worship with Brazil's indigenous people, and through this connection they re-learned the ancestor worship that was part of their own traditional systems. Candomblé_sentence_163

They often concealed the sacred symbols of their deities inside figures of their Catholic saints. Candomblé_sentence_164

In segregated communities of the country, it was easy to create Catholic fraternities where slaves would meet with each other. Candomblé_sentence_165

These meetings, however, were an opportunity for Candomblé worship to be practiced and for feasts to be held on special religious days. Candomblé_sentence_166

They were also opportunities for the enslaved to gather and plan rebellions against their masters. Candomblé_sentence_167

Candomblé was condemned by the Catholic Church. Candomblé_sentence_168

Followers of the faith were persecuted violently, including by government-led public campaigns and police action. Candomblé_sentence_169

Repression of African religion began early in the Portuguese colonial period, with calundu (spiritual leaders) subject to the Inquisition. Candomblé_sentence_170

The Brazilian Penal Code of 1850 condemned charlatanismo (charlatanry) curandeirismo (quackery). Candomblé_sentence_171

Both Candomblé religious leaders and terreiros were attacked by the police. Candomblé_sentence_172

With Catholicism as the state religion, other religious practices threatened the secular authority. Candomblé_sentence_173

After enslaved Africans successfully led the Haitian Revolution, there were growing fears about similar slave revolts in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_174

The 1820s and 1830s saw increased police repression of African-derived religions in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_175

Laws introduced in 1822 allowed police to shut down batuques, or drumming ceremonies among the African population. Candomblé_sentence_176

It was during this period that the Engenho Velho ("Old Sugar Mill") terreiro was established; it was from this group that most Nagô terreiros descended. Candomblé_sentence_177

Various records indicated that Creoles and Whites were also sometimes taking part in the rites which the police were suppressing. Candomblé_sentence_178

In 1822, Brazil declared itself independent of Portugal. Candomblé_sentence_179

Under British pressure, the Brazilian government passed the Quieróz law of 1850 which abolished the slave trade, although not slavery itself. Candomblé_sentence_180

In 1885 all slaves over the age of 60 were declared free and then in 1888 slavery was abolished entirely. Candomblé_sentence_181

Although now free, life for Brazil's former slaves rarely improved. Candomblé_sentence_182

20th and 21st centuries Candomblé_section_15

Starting from the 1940s, sociologists and anthropologists of religion studied Candomblé sympathetically. Candomblé_sentence_183

French sociologist Roger Bastide, who held the chair of Sociology at the University of São Paulo between 1938 and 1957, emerged both as a main scholar and a defender of religious freedom of Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_184

One paradoxical effect of Bastide's and other scholars’ interest in Candomblé was that their works were read by leading practitioners of Candomblé themselves and contributed to the “codification” if not, as some argue, to a new “invention of candomblé” in the 20th century. Candomblé_sentence_185

Brazil declared freedom of religion in the 1970s, allowing for greater tolerance for Candomblé practices. Candomblé_sentence_186

The persecution stopped in the 1970s with repeal of a law requiring police permission to hold public religious ceremonies. Candomblé_sentence_187

The religion has surged in popularity in Brazil since then, with as many as two million people professing to follow this faith. Candomblé_sentence_188

It is particularly popular in Salvador, Bahia, in the northeast region of Brazil, which is more isolated from other influences and had a high percentage of enslaved Africans. Candomblé_sentence_189

Many people from African countries visit Bahia in order to learn more about the faith of their ancestors. Candomblé_sentence_190

For many followers, Candomblé is not only a matter of religious belief but also of reclaiming the cultural and historical identity of ethnic Africans, although their separate tribal identities have been obscured by peoples being mixed in communities during and after slavery. Candomblé_sentence_191

By the late 20th century, Candomblé was gaining increased respectability within Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_192

This was partly fuelled by well-educated Afro-Brazilians embracing their cultural heritage, which had previously been stigmatised. Candomblé_sentence_193

By the early 21st century, tourist literature increasingly portrayed Candomblé as an intrinsic part of Brazilian culture. Candomblé_sentence_194

References to the religion's beliefs became more apparent in Brazilian society; Varig Airlines for instance used the tagline "Fly with Axé." Candomblé_sentence_195

In the closing decades of the 20th century, some practitioners sought to remove Roman Catholic-influenced aspects from the religion to return it to its West African roots. Candomblé_sentence_196

The prominent priestess Mãe Stella for instance called on adherents to renounce all Roman Catholic saints and transform Candomblé into a more purely African tradition. Candomblé_sentence_197

Many terreiros distinguished themselves from this approach, arguing that to abandon the Roman Catholic elements would be to abandon an important part of their religious ancestry. Candomblé_sentence_198

Pentecostalism presents itself as an avowed enemy of Candomblé, regarding it as diabolical. Candomblé_sentence_199

Candomblé nations Candomblé_section_16

Brazilian slaves came from a number of African geographic regions and ethnic groups, including Mbundu, Yoruba, Igbo, Kongo, Fon and Ewe. Candomblé_sentence_200

Slave handlers classified them by the shore of embarkment, so records of ethnicity may not have been accurate, as captives were often transported overland away from native areas before being loaded on ships. Candomblé_sentence_201

As the religion developed semi-independently in different regions of Brazil, among different African ethnic groups, it evolved into several "branches" or nations (nações). Candomblé_sentence_202

These are distinguished chiefly by their set of worshiped deities, as well as the music and language used in the rituals. Candomblé_sentence_203

The division into nations was also influenced by the religious and beneficent brotherhoods (irmandades) organized by the Catholic Church among Brazilian slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Candomblé_sentence_204

These fraternities, organized along ethnic lines to allow priests to preach who had learned the slaves' native languages, provided a legitimate cover for slave reunions. Candomblé_sentence_205

Ultimately they may have aided the development of Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_206

The following list is a rough classification of the major nations and sub-nations, and their sacred languages: Candomblé_sentence_207


As of 2012, the Nagô nation has been described as the largest. Candomblé_sentence_208

Priesthood initiation Candomblé_section_17

In Brazil: Ifá, Egungun, Orisha, Vodun, and Nkisi, are separated by type of priesthood initiation. Candomblé_sentence_209


  • Ifá only initiation Babalaos, do not come into trance.Candomblé_item_2_15
  • Egungun only initiation Babaojés, do not come into trance.Candomblé_item_2_16
  • Candomblé Ketu initiation Iyawos, come into trance with Orixá.Candomblé_item_2_17
  • Candomblé Jeje initiation Vodunsis, come into trance with Vodun.Candomblé_item_2_18
  • Candomblé Bantu initiation Muzenzas, come into trance with Nkisi.Candomblé_item_2_19

Priesthood Candomblé_section_18

The Candomblé priesthood is divided into: Candomblé_sentence_210


Notable priestesses Candomblé_section_19

Many of the most influential priestesses of the faith claim descent from Yoruba royalty. Candomblé_sentence_211

The following are some examples: Candomblé_sentence_212


  • Mãe Menininha do Gantois (1894-1986), iyalorixá of the Ilê Ìyá Omi Àse Iyámasé ("House of the Mother of Waters") of Gantois, who was instrumental in gaining legalization of the religion.Candomblé_item_4_27
  • Mother Olga de Alaketu (c.1925-2005), iyalorixà of the Ile Maroia Laji ("House of Alaji, Son of the Aro clan") of Salvador de Bahia, who served during her life as one of Brazil's most prominent religious leaders.Candomblé_item_4_28
  • Mãe Cleusa Millet (1923-1998), another iyalorixá of the Ilê Ìyá Omi Àse Iyámasé of Gantois.Candomblé_item_4_29

Demographics Candomblé_section_20

Candomblé has been described as "the religion of the poor and underprivileged" in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_213

Johnson noted that most of the regulars who visited the terreiros he was studying in Rio de Janeiro were poor. Candomblé_sentence_214

Of these, fifteen were female and five male. Candomblé_sentence_215

Despite its Afro-Brazilian origins, Candomblé has attracted those from other ethnic backgrounds. Candomblé_sentence_216

It has attracted many male homosexuals as practitioners; in Rio de Janeiro for example the gay male community has had longstanding links with the terreiros, which have often been seen as part of a gay social network. Candomblé_sentence_217

Many gay men who have joined have cited it as offering a more welcoming atmosphere to them than other religious traditions active in Brazil. Candomblé_sentence_218

Various lesbians have also been identified as practitioners, although the anthropologist Andrea Stevenson Allen argued that they rarely received the same level of affirmation from the religion as their gay male counterparts. Candomblé_sentence_219

Within Brazil, Candomblé's influence is most pervasive in Bahia. Candomblé_sentence_220

In this region, it is the Nagô nation that has the largest number of houses and practitioners. Candomblé_sentence_221

Many practitioners of Candomblé already have a family link to the tradition, with their parents or other elder relatives being initiates. Candomblé_sentence_222

Others convert to the movement without having had any family connections; some of those who convert to Candomblé have already explored Spiritism, Umbanda, or Pentecostalism. Candomblé_sentence_223

Many describe having been ill or plagued with misfortune prior to being initiated into Candomblé, having determined through divination that their ailments would cease if they did so. Candomblé_sentence_224

Johnson noted that Candomblé appears to appeal to those who identify strongly with an African heritage. Candomblé_sentence_225

Reception and influence Candomblé_section_21

The Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado makes repeated references to Candomblé throughout his work. Candomblé_sentence_226

In the 1980s, the American writer Toni Morrison visited Brazil to learn more about Candomblé. Candomblé_sentence_227

She subsequently combined ideas from Candomblé with those of Gnosticism in her depiction of the religion pursued by "The Convent", an all-female community in her 1991 novel Paradise. Candomblé_sentence_228

Themes from the religion have also been included in the work of Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha. Candomblé_sentence_229

References to the religion also appeared in Brazilian popular music. Candomblé_sentence_230

For instance, Maria Bethânia and Gal Costa's song "Prayer to Mãe Menininha" made it into the country's chart. Candomblé_sentence_231

Johnson noted that many academics who have studied Candomblé have sought to portray it in the best light possible, so as to counter racist and primitivist stereotypes about Afro-Brazilians. Candomblé_sentence_232

Academic studies have in turn influenced the way that the religion is practices, helping to establish "correct practice" among divergent groups. Candomblé_sentence_233

Many terreiros own copies of academic studies of Candomblé by scholars such as Pierre Verger, Roger Bastide, and Juana Elbein dos Santos. Candomblé_sentence_234

Various practitioners own books on Candomblé and other Afro-American religions, including those written in languages they cannot understand, as a mean of presenting an image of authority. Candomblé_sentence_235

Although objects associated with Candomblé were initially found only in police museums, thus underscoring the stereotypical association between the religion and criminality, as it gained greater public acceptance such objects eventually came to be featured in museums devoted to folklore and Afro-Brazilian culture. Candomblé_sentence_236

From the 1990s onward, practitioners began establishing their own museum displays within their terreiros. Candomblé_sentence_237

For instance, the bedroom of the famous Candomblé priestess Mãe Menininha do Gantois, located within her Bahia terreiro, was converted into a memorial within in 1992 and then formally recognised as a heritage site in 2002. Candomblé_sentence_238

Candomblé practitioners have also lobbied other museums to change the way that the latter display items associated with the religion. Candomblé_sentence_239

For instance, practitioners successfully called upon the Museum of the City of Salvador to remove some otá stones from public display, arguing that according to the regulations of the religion such items should never be visible to the public. Candomblé_sentence_240

See also Candomblé_section_22


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