Salvador the Best!

Salvador da Bahia, Brazil Central
The Deep Guide to Brazil's Essentiality

Sprawled across broad equatorial latitudes, stoked and steamed and sensual in the widest sense of the word... limned in cadenced song... its very name born in heat and embers, Brazil is a conundrum wrapped in a smile inside an irony.

 
CONTENTS
Blood & Sugar, Places & History

Blood, Sweat, and Prayers

A Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos (The Church Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks) is located in and dominates the Largo do Pelourinho. The church was built over a period of a hundred years or so beginning in 1704 (the towers and facade were begun in 1780) by the enslaved members of O Irmandade de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos do Pelourinho (The Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men of Pelourinho) for their own use (they weren't allowed inside the other churches, you see). One probably would be hard-pressed to find many other churches with statues of black saints so prominently and forthrightly displayed. Work on the church was always done at night so that the slaves' normal daytime work would carry on uninterrupted. There's a slave cemetery out back.

Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Our Lady of the Rosary) was the name given to the Virgin Mary by Saint Dominic (São Domingos de Gusmão, in Portuguese), founder of the Dominicans, who "received" a  rosary from Mary in a church in southern France around the year 1200. The Dominicans founded the lay brotherhood of the Rosary in Cologne, Germany, in 1408...the brotherhood arriving in Brazil in 1685 and eventually becoming a society of black men. Before they built their own church the brothers met in one of the side altars of the Igreja da Sé (which was located in today's Praça da Sé and destroyed in 1933 in order to provide a convenient turn-around for Salvador's street cars) before a statue of Nossa Senhora do Rosário. The statue was eventually transferred to their new church and remains there to this day.

The Tuesday evening Mass (6 p.m.) is accompanied by (in part) Afro-Bahian drumming.

Plunder and Splendor
 

A Igreja de São Francisco (The Church of Saint Francis) and its attached convent are up the cobbled streets and to the left at the far side of the Terreio de Jesus, standing at the end of an adjacent square (Praça Anchieta), beyond a large stone cross. This is where sweat was turned into splendor, and where the descendents of those not allowed to enter in centuries past now gather en masse for Tuesday evening masses (held at 6:00 p.m.). The place is awash in gold leaf, and it hosts a rococo gallery of saints and angels which, again, one would be hard-pressed to find in any other church -- lasciviously voluptuous cherubim (putti), others cockily propped, one arm raised, one hand resting on thrusting hips, protuberant manhoods now chastely and crudely excised -- all carved, of course, by slaves.

The keystone for the present church was laid in 1686.

Masses on Tuesdays at 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:15 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Fridays at 7:15 a.m.; Saturday at 7:30 a.m.; and Sundays at 8 a.m.


Inspired in a house other than that of The Lord?


Unkindest Cut(s)


Interior of the Igreja de São Francisco; construction of the principal altar began in 1708


Away from the main altar, towards the entrance...

The paintings adorning the ceiling are the work of Frei (Brother) Jerônimo de Graça and were begun in 1733.


Natura Moderatrix Optima, according to Horatio. Azulejos dating from 1743-46, in the cloisters.

Thijs Weststeijn has a beautifully conceived and written monograph on the cloister azulejos here...

YOU Are Invited!!!

 
Pardal & João, Salvador Central
Me and João do Boi of the village of São Braz, Bahia
I link to João. João links to...

This is an invitation from me (black hat, right) to a music project built as an escape valve, a way to take music from anywhere to potentially anywhere else on the planet.

Unlike traditional media pipelines, which are either expensive or limited, ours is built on common humanity, on the phenomenon of six degrees of separation. Degrees of separation are links between people, connections forming pathways which extend throughout human society (which is why word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of publicity there is).

We've put an online music codex on the air, mirroring this. To give you a personal example of how it works, I link to a roots samba-de-roda (analogous in Brazil to the delta blues in the United States) group in a fishing village in Brazil. New Orleans writer/journalist Jay Mazza links to me. Trumpter Kermit Ruffins links to Jay. Other people link to Kermit. And other people link to those people. And...

Now there are LOTS of pathways leading to the musicians in that rural fishing village in Brazil. And music which would seldom be heard beyond the village border can be heard by interested people all over the world.

 
Jay - Salvador Central
Jay Mazza w/ Lionel Batiste
Jay links to me...

The musicodex in and of itself is probably not a mechanism for generating great commercial success, but it IS most definitely a way for news of musicians and their music to penetrate far and widely, outside of usual circles and localities. It is giant steps reducing the wide world to a mom & pop record shop (I'm the pop), wherein musical discoveries can be made and passed on.

Mankind has been making music for at least 50,000 years, and word-of-mouth has been around since humans could talk. Drawing on 21st century technology, we've put them together in a new way...

And you're invited.

www.musicodex.com

Kermit Salvador Central
Kermit Ruffins links to Jay Mazza...

Airto - Salvador CentralBelpa - Salvador CentralBobby - Salvador Central
Airto Moreira - Belpa Mariani - Bobby Sanabria

This could be the start of something big...


Catedral Basílica on the Terreiro de Jesus


Naves of the Catedral Basílica


Ceiling


The sacristy; no bones in the drawers, just priestly vestments.


Igreja do Passo (Paço), on the Rua do Passo (Paço)


Igreja do Passo from the Escadaria (Stairway)


Valeu Teimosia!

Above is a scene from the film O Pagador de Promessas ( The Payer - or Keeper - of Promises, which won the 1962 Palm d'Or at Cannes), set on the steps leading up to the Igreja do Passo.


TOURS of SALVADOR & ENVIRONS
by writer Ben Paris
The Good, the Bad, & the Beautiful
Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

An American in Brazil
A-Class Service & Communication!
Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A San Francisco Native in Brazil
A-Class Service & Communication!
ALL Available Hotels
in Salvador!

All Hotels in Salvador

Much More Comfortable than
Sleeping on the Beach!
Home - Salvador Central

Home: Salvador Central

A Tour Guide to
Salvador & Environs

A Tour Guide to Salvador

Salvador, the City

Salvador & Its Spirit

A Short History of
Salvador da Bahia

A Short History of Salvador da Bahia

Carnival in Salvador

Carnival in Salvador

What Brazil Does Best...

Salvador's Music Site

The World Cup in Salvador

World Cup Salvador

Salvador's Old City: Pelourinho

Salvador's Old City

Salvador's Neighborhoods, Streets,
Praças & Byways

Salvador's Neighborhoods

Blood, Sweat, & Prayers: Salvador Sites
& History

Salvador Sites

Once Upon a Night in Brazil:
A Short History of
Brazilian Music

A History of Brazilian Music

Sweet Fields, Bitter Harvest:
The Music of Bahia

Music of Bahia

And the Whole Musical Planet!

Salvador's Music Site

About Us

About Us

The Sacred & the Profana: Festas

Festas

Food & Eating Out in Salvador

Food in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Salvador's Beach Scene

Salvador's Beaches

Islands in the Bay

Islands in the Bay

What's On in Salvador

What's On in Salvador

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Download GREAT
Brazilian Music

Download Great Brazilian Music

Ubiquitous Deities: Candomblé

Candomblé

Capoeira: Dance Like a Baryshnikov, Hit Like a Kalashnikov

Capoeira

Salvador's Afoxés & Blocos Afros

Salvador's Afoxe's & Blocos Afros

Percussion Classes in Salvador:
Heaviest Hands

Percussion Classes in Salvador

Brazilian Music
Workshops & Tours

Brazilian Music Workshops

Group Lodging in Salvador:
Professional & Student

Group Lodging in Salvador

Learning Portuguese:
Lessons & Classes

Learning Portuguese

Money Matters

Money Matters

Buying Property in Salvador

Buying Property in Salvador

S.O.S. Brazil: Volunteer Work

Volunteer Work

How to Avoid Being
Robbed & Cheated

How to Avoid Being Robbed & Cheated

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

How to Get Around:
Buses, Taxis, & Cars

How to Get Around

Black Market: Bahian Bazaar

Black Market

Outside of Salvador

Outside of Salvador

Other Voices

Other Voices

Kindred Spirits &
Fellow Travellers

Kindred Spirits

Fiction from Bahia

Fiction from Bahia

Dental Help in Salvador

Dental Help in Salvador

Current Weather & the Forecast

Current Weather

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse!

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse

An English-Owned Hotel!

An English-Owned Hotel

ALL Available Hotels
in Salvador!

All Hotels in Salvador


It features capoeira by Mestre Canjiquinha (1925 - 1994) and several of his students, one of whom went by two apelidos (nicknames)...Gigante (because of his small stature), and Bigodinho (because of his little moustache). Irony lost out, and nowadays he is known as Mestre Bigodinho.

The putative day is December 4th, date of the Festa de Santa Bárbara, which to this day remains the area's biggest festival).


Jazigos


Snow, Sugar, Tides, and a place to run away from...

As for Bahia's oldest church (or more accurately, oldest still existent church), that would be A Igreja da Nossa Senhora das Neves (The Church of Our Lady of the Snows) -- built in 1552 and situated on the Ilha de Maré (Tide Island, itself set in the northern end of the Baia de Todos os Santos).  Construction was mandated by Bartolomeu Pires, a catholic priest and owner of one of the island's sugarcane plantations, and, not surprisingly, on the far side of the island a Nagô quilombo was founded (still existent today as the fishing village of Praia Grande -- "Big Beach").

Hangin' at the Mercado
 

The Mercado Modelo is, in my estimation, and in spite of being a tourist trap, pretty cool. It is located in the lower city across the street from the Elevador Lacerda, and is the old Customs House now transformed into a warehouse of handicrafts stalls. The rear part of the structure is given over to bars (very local) and restaurants (on the street level, and upstairs on a huge balcony). If you want to buy in the Mercado Modelo be prepared to haggle, and be prepared to shake off vendors insistent on selling something to you whether you want to buy or not. I like the (again, very local) scene behind the Mercado Modelo on the lower level, though I could do without the noise level produced by the capoeira there; the drumming reflects from the overhanging roof and can make conversation difficult.

In case you're interested, Salvador's first customs house was built in the upper city by governor Tomé de Souza in 1550. Eventually somebody figured out that it would be easier to have one down by the water, within easy access of incoming ships, and a new customs house was built on the current site in 1861. It functioned there until 1914, when new harbor warehouses were constructed and customs tasks transferred to them. The abandoned and unused customs house (the third actually, the second having been demolished to create a public square) was taken over by handicrafts sellers who moved over after the original Mercado Modelo (which was built in 1912) burned down (in 1969).  There was a two-year wait while the customs house was refurbished, and it (or the new Mercado Modelo rather) has been operating since 1971.

 

 


The original Mercado Modelo

The site of the old Mercado Modelo is now occupied by a statue by Mário Cravo, the statue officially entitled "Fonte da Rampa do Mercado" ("Fountain of the Market Ramp") but more commonly referred to by locals as "A Bunda" ("The Butt").


Fonte da Rampa do Mercado


Rampa to the left, saveiros (dugout canoes) for fishing center

And a couple of hundred yards beyond this aptly nicknamed construction, out in the bay, there lies another christened comparison to a human part -- Jorge Amado's "belly button of Bahia" (o umbigo da Bahia) -- the Forte São Marcelo.


The "Belly Button" of Brazil...Forte São Marcelo

In 1912 the fort was actually used to bombard Salvador, in a battle of political succession!

That little catamaran ferries vistors to the fort and back, leaving from the Terminal Marítimo (a nice enough but not terribly important little jaunt, the fort functioning as a something of a museum and housing a restaurant).


Igreja do Bonfim

The Igreja de Bonfim commands a high position on the peninsula of Itapagipe (an area of land which spreads out from the cidade baixa into the bay) and is notable for being a place of veneration not only for Catholics but for Candomblistas. It is the endpoint of a yearly procession called the Lavegem do Bonfim (Washing of Bonfim), which is more accurately a reference to the washing of the church's steps by mães de santo (candomblé priestesses) who lead the procession from the Mercado Modelo to the igreja. This happens in mid-January, and the procession following the mães de santo is actually an enormous party, with drumming and dancing and eating and drinking slowly spreading from the area around the Mercado Modelo to the area around Bonfim. The church houses a curious room called Sala dos Milagres (Room of Miracles) where people leave votive offerings in thanks for cures, the votives forming a rather bizarre collection of hanging plastic replicas of multitudinous problematic body parts.


Ex-votos

The Igreja do Bonfim is closely associated with fitas do Senhor do Bonfim ("fita" is "ribbon", and the Senhor do Bonfim is both Jesus Christ and his syncretized counterpart Oxalá), which are sold by wandering vendors both in Pelourinho and in front of the Igreja do Bonfim itself (unhappily, "sold" isn't really a very good way to put it, "pushed" and "foisted" being more like it). The idea behind the fitas is that they are tied around one's wrist with three knots, the knots corresponding to three wishes made as the knots are tied, and when the fabric wears out and the fita drops off...the wishes will be granted.


The length of the ribbons was originally determined by the length of the right arm of the statue of Jesus at the top.

The length of the fitas (47 centimeters) corresponds to the length of the right arm of a statue of Jesus positioned on the church altar, the statue having been carved in Setúbal, Portugal during the 18th century. The original fitas do bonfim were first produced in 1809, in accordance with common Portuguese custom. They were made from silk, worn around the neck, and were hung with small medallions bearing saints' images. And they were used after a cure via miraculous intervention, after the placing of an image or wax representation of the affected body part within the church (per above).


Mass

Fitas do Bonfim
 

You see them all over nowadays, one very common place to hang them being the rear view mirror of Salvador's taxi cabs (quite often together with a figa, a good luck charm used to ward off the evil eye).

Cacique's Fitas (white) and Figa


Faculdade de Medicina (The Old Medical School)

The Faculdade de Medicina, located on the Terreiro de Jesus in Pelourinho, was the first medical school in Brazil (founded in 1808).  It's a beautiful structure (originally the Colégio dos Jesuitas and currently in the process of being renovated), and it houses a couple of museums, the most interesting being the Museu Afro-Brasileiro (to the left as one enters the building).

The museum's collection deals principally with artifacts and explanations (in Portuguese) having to do with the arrival of Africans in Bahia and the resulting cultural links between Bahia and Africa.  Of particular interest are the enormous and awe-inspiring wood carvings of orixás by Carybé in a back room (you may have to ask how to get there).

Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a five real entrance charge. There is a modest website here.


Downstairs

Beneath the Museu Afro-Brasileiro is the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, worth a stroll (no extra charge) displaying artifacts unearthed in the Salvador area, from Indian utensils to remnants of colonial era living.


Fallen Cross representing a church felled by greed

The Cruz Caida went up in 1999 and is set at the south end of Praça da Sé, on the bay side (to the west). It's a sculpture by Mário Cravo (of the Rampa do Mercado, above) representing the Igreja (Church) da Sé which stood in what is now the Praça da Sé and which, after standing for 380 years, was demolished in 1933 so that the city's streetcars (now long gone of course) might have a convenient looping-around point. The archbishop who authorized the church's destruction was paid off with a grand new residence close to Campo Grande, and an entire further block of colonial-era buildings went down along with the church. The praça has gone through a number of metamorphoses, to bus terminal, to public square, to bus terminal, back to badly conceived public square constantly in need of attention...


Praça da Sé with a lovely, well thought-out square, alas long gone.


And in another incarnation, predating the above.


And in yet another, postdating both of the above...this is the Praça da Sé of 1992.


Laying streetcar tracks in the '30s


1940s...when cars were black and Bahian men, rich and poor, wore those wonderful white linen suits (or Wonderful Ice Cream Suits, as Ray Bradbury would have it).


(Or Pierre Verger...) Salvador's Centro, when men dressed like men.


Gabinete Português de Leitura

Located on the Praça da Piedade, the Gabinete is a reading library established in 1863...

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant the Feira de São Joaquim...

The feira is a vast labrynth of narrow passageways supplying the necessities of life in Bahia...religious articles of all types, incense, statuary, beads, plants and herbs, live chickens and goats, drums...there are vegetables and the products of butchers' stalls, tiny lunch stalls...beans and corn and farinha de mandioca, dendé and dried shrimp and peanuts and coconuts and banana leaves and garlic and clove and mint and cilantro, clay cooking vessels and wooden spoons and pots and pans. Most of the clay pottery comes from Maragogipinho, in the south Recôncavo.

The Feira de São Joaquim is located on the water of the bay in the cidade baixa, just south of the ferry terminal, having moved to the spot in 1964 from Água de Meninos closeby when that feira burned down. Considering the two incarnations, it's been in existence since the 1920s.


Pottery throwing in Maragogipinho -- at the southern end of the Recôncavo -- where most of the pottery at the Feira de Joaquim begins its life.


YOU Are Invited!!!

 
Pardal & João, Salvador Central
Me and João do Boi of the village of São Braz, Bahia
I link to João. João links to...

This is an invitation from me (black hat, right) to a music project built as an escape valve, a way to take music from anywhere to potentially anywhere else on the planet.

Unlike traditional media pipelines, which are either expensive or limited, ours is built on common humanity, on the phenomenon of six degrees of separation. Degrees of separation are links between people, connections forming pathways which extend throughout human society (which is why word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of publicity there is).

We've put an online music codex on the air, mirroring this. To give you a personal example of how it works, I link to a roots samba-de-roda (analogous in Brazil to the delta blues in the United States) group in a fishing village in Brazil. New Orleans writer/journalist Jay Mazza links to me. Trumpter Kermit Ruffins links to Jay. Other people link to Kermit. And other people link to those people. And...

Now there are LOTS of pathways leading to the musicians in that rural fishing village in Brazil. And music which would seldom be heard beyond the village border can be heard by interested people all over the world.

 
Jay - Salvador Central
Jay Mazza w/ Lionel Batiste
Jay links to me...

The musicodex in and of itself is probably not a mechanism for generating great commercial success, but it IS most definitely a way for news of musicians and their music to penetrate far and widely, outside of usual circles and localities. It is giant steps reducing the wide world to a mom & pop record shop (I'm the pop), wherein musical discoveries can be made and passed on.

Mankind has been making music for at least 50,000 years, and word-of-mouth has been around since humans could talk. Drawing on 21st century technology, we've put them together in a new way...

And you're invited.

www.musicodex.com

Kermit Salvador Central
Kermit Ruffins links to Jay Mazza...

Airto - Salvador CentralBelpa - Salvador CentralBobby - Salvador Central
Airto Moreira - Belpa Mariani - Bobby Sanabria

This could be the start of something big...