Salvador's historical and cultural aspects were inherited by the intermarriage of such ethnic groups as Native-Indian, African and European. This mixture can be seen in the religion, golden cuisine, cultural manifestations, and custom of Bahia's people.
Gregório de Mattos, born in Salvador in 1636, was also educated by the Jesuits. He became the most important Baroque poet in colonial Brazil for his religious and satirical works. Father António Vieira was born in Lisbon in 1608, but was raised and educated in the Jesuit school of Salvador and died in the city in 1697. His erudite sermons have earned him the title of best writer of the Portuguese language in the Baroque era.
After the Independence of Brazil (1822), Salvador continued to play an important role in Brazilian literature. Significant 19th century writers associated with the city include Romantic poet Castro Alves (1847–1871) and diplomat Ruy Barbosa (1849–1923). In the 20th century, Bahia-born Jorge Amado (1912–2001), although not born in Salvador, helped popularize the culture of the city around the world in novels such as Jubiabá, Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos, and Tenda dos Milagres, the settings of which are in Salvador.
In Salvador, religion is a major contact point between Portuguese and African influences and, in the last 20 years, Brazil's version of a North American-influenced Pentecostalism. Salvador was the seat of the first bishopric in colonial Brazil (established 1551), and the first bishop, Pero Fernandes Sardinha, arrived already in 1552. The Jesuits, led by the Manuel da Nóbrega, also arrived in the 16th century and worked in converting the Indigenous peoples of the region to Roman Catholicism.
Many religious orders came to the city, following its foundation: Franciscans, Benedictines and Carmelites. Subsequently to them are created the Third Orders, the Brotherhoods, and Fraternities, which were composed mainly of professional and social groups. The most prominent of these orders were the Terceira do Carmo Order and the de São Francisco Order, founded by white men, and the Nossa Senhora do Rosário and São Beneditino Brotherhoods, composed of black men. In many churches maintained by religious men, were housed the Santíssimo Sacramento brotherhoods.
Besides these organizations, the expansion of Catholicism in the city was consolidated through social care work. Santa Casa the Misericórdia was one of the institution that did this kind of work, maintaining hospitals, shelters for the poor and the elderly, as well providing assistance to convicts and to those who would face death penalties. The convents, on their part, were cultural and religious formation centers, offering seminar coursed that often were attended by the lay.
Even with the present evolution, and the growth of Protestantism and other religions in the city, the Catholic faith remains as one of its most distinctive features, drawing a lot of people to its hundreds of churches. Some aspects, like the use of Portuguese in the Masses, the simplification of the liturgy, and the adoption of "pop" religious songs are key factors to the triumph of Catholicism. In the Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos Church, Masses are held in the Yorubá language, making use of African chants and typical clothes, which attract many people from the African Brazilian communities.
Most enslaved Africans in Bahia were brought from Sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Yoruba-speaking nation (Iorubá or Nagô in Portuguese) from present-day Nigeria. The enslaved were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism, but their original religion, Candomblé, has survived in spite of prohibitions and persecutions. The enslaved Africans managed to preserve their religion by attributing the names and characteristics of their Candomblé deities to Catholic saints with similar qualities. Still today all Candomble sessions are conducted in Yoruba, not Portuguese.
These religious entities have been syncretised with some Catholic entities. For instance, Salvador's Feast of Bonfim, celebrated in January, is dedicated to both Our Lord of Bonfim (Jesus Christ) and Oxalá. Another important feast is the Feast de Yemanja every 2 February, on the shores of the borough of Rio Vermelho in Salvador, on the day the church celebrates Our Lady of the Navigators. 8 December, Immaculate Conception Day for Catholics, is also commonly dedicated to Yemanja' with votive offerings made in the sea throughout the Brazilian coast.
The local cuisine, spicy and based on seafood (shrimp, fish), strongly relies on typically African ingredients and techniques, and is much appreciated throughout Brazil and internationally. The most typical ingredient is azeite-de-dendê, an oil extracted from a palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) brought from West Africa to Brazil during colonial times.
Using the milky coconut juice, they prepared a variety of seafood based dishes, such as Ensopados, Moquecas and Escabeche. The sugar cane bagasse was mixed with molasses and Rapadura, in the creation of coconut desserts like Cocada Branca and Preta. The remaining of the Portuguese Stew sauce was mixed with manioc flour to make a mush, which is a traditional Indian dish. In the markets of Salvador, it is possible to find stands selling typical dishes of the colonial era. In the Sete Portas Market, customers eat Mocotó on Friday nights since the 1940s, when the market was inaugurated. In the restaurants of Mercado Modelo (Model Market), Sarapatel, stews and several fried dishes are served regularly. In the São Joaquim, Santa Bárbara and São Miguel markets, there are stands selling typical food. They are also sold at stands located on the beaches, specially crab stews and oysters. The restaurants that sell typical dishes are located mostly along the coast and in Pelourinho. They prepare a wide variety of recipes that take palm tree oil.
Traditional dishes include caruru, vatapá, acarajé, bobó-de-camarão, moqueca baiana, and abará. Some of these dishes, like the acarajé and abará, are also used as offerings in Candomblé rituals. An acarajé is basically a deep-fried "bread" made from mashed beans from which the skins have been removed (reputedly feijão fradinho "black-eyed peas" but in reality almost always the less expensive brown beans so ubiquitous in Bahia). But Salvador is not only typical food. Other recipes created by the slaves were the Haussá Rice (rice and jerked beef cooked together), the Munguzá, used as offering to the Candomblé deity Oxalá (who is the father of all deities, according to the religion) pleased the matrons very much. So did the Bolinhos the Fubá, the Cuscuz (cornmeal) and the Mingau (porridge). According to Arany Santana, the African Ipetê (used in the rituals to the deity Oxum) became the Shrimp bobó, and the Akará (honoring the deities Xangô and Iansã) became the world-famous Acarajé. Who comes here also has a large number of restaurants specialized on international cuisine. There are also places that serve dishes from other states of Brazil, especially from Minas Gerais and the Northeast region.
Capoeira is a unique mix of dance and martial art of Afro-Brazilian origin, combining agile dance moves with unarmed combat techniques. Capoeira in Portuguese literally means "chicken coop." The presence of capoeira in Brazil is directly connected to the importation of African slaves by the Portuguese, and Salvador is considered the centre of origin of the modern capoeira branches. In the first half of the 20th century, Salvador-born masters Mestre Bimba and Mestre Pastinha founded capoeira schools and helped standardise and popularise the art in Brazil and the world. The practice of Capoeira was banned in 1892, though in 1937 it was made legal. In recent years, Capoeira has become more international and accessible even in Salvador.
The artistic, cultural and social heritage of Salvador is preserved in museums. From Museu de Arte da Bahia (MAB), which is the oldest in the State, to Museu Náutico, the newest, the first capital of Brazil displays unique pieces of history.
Museu de Arte da Bahia has paintings, Chinese porcelain, furniture and sacra images from the 17th and 18th centuries. Museu Costa Pinto has private, owned items such as, pieces of art, crystal objects, furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Another important museum is Museu da Cidade, where many items that help to preserve the heritage of old Salvador are kept.
Some churches and monasteries also have museums located in their premises. Examples of this are the Carmo da Misericórdia and São Bento Museums. After the renovation of the Forts, were created Museu Náutico, in Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra (Farol da Barra) and Museu da Comunicação, in Forte São Diogo. Other important museums that are scattered through Salvador are: Museu do Cacau, Museu geológico do Estado, Museu tempostal, Solar do Ferrão, Museu de Arte Antiga e Popular Henriqueta M Catharino, Museu Eugênio Teixeira Leal, Museu Rodin Bahia and Museu das Portas do Carmo.
The streets of Salvador are decorated with numerous murals and sculptures, many of which have been produced by the resident artist Bel Borba, a native of the city.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the carnival or Carnaval of Salvador da Bahia is the biggest party on the planet. For an entire week, almost 4 million people celebrate throughout of streets, avenues and squares. The direct organization of the party involves the participation of over 100,000 people. Its dimensions are gigantic. Salvador receives an average of over 800,000 visitors.
The cover was done by 4,446 professionals in local press, national, and international. The carnival was broadcast to 135 countries through 65 radio stations, 75 magazines, 139 producers of video, 97 newspapers (21 international), 14 tv stations, and 168 websites.
Rei Momo: The King of Carnival, Momo, is handed the keys to the city in the morning, on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday, and the party officially begins. Camarotes: These grandstands line the street in the neighborhood of Campo Grande. Watch the show from here without being trampled by the crowd. Trios Eléctricos: Outfitted with deafening sound systems, these 60-foot-long trucks carry a kick line of gyrating, scantily clad dancers along with the city's best-loved performers, among them Ivete Sangalo, Daniela Mercury, Cláudia Leitte, Chiclete com Banana, Carlinhos Brown, and others.
The music played during Carnaval includes Axé and Samba-reggae. Many "blocos" participate in Carnaval, the "blocos afros" like Malé Debalé, Olodum and Filhos de Gandhi being the most famous of them. Carnival is heavily policed. Stands with five or six seated police officers are erected everywhere and the streets are constantly patrolled by police groups moving in single file.
The Osmar Circuit: goes from Campo Grande to Castro Alves square, The Downtown Circuit, in Downtown and Pelourinho, and The Dodô Circuit; goes from Farol da Barra to Ondina, along the coast. The Osmar circuit is the oldest circuit. It is also where the event's most traditional groups parades. In Dodô, where the artist box seats are located, the party becomes lively toward the end of the afternoon and it continues until morning.
The three Carnival Circuits are:
The music played in Salvador at a Black Bahia Funk Ball is more American than its counterpart in Rio de Janeiro. Music material from Rio, which sells reasonably well around Rio, is poorly known in Salvador and, in any case, held to be inferior and "less modern" than funk sung in English. Another difference can be seen with the funk dancehalls. The Ball incorporates the entire setting, which entails the attire, the slang, the specific way of dancing break, the decoration, the organization of permanent dance groups.
The first books that arrived in Salvador, were brought by the Jesuits, who came with Tomé de Souza. The first libraries or bookstores that appeared were under the control of the religious missionaries and were mostly composed of books on religion.
The handcraft legacy of Bahia using only raw materials (straw, leather, clay, wood, seashells and beads), the most rudimentary crafts are reasonably inexpensive. Other pieces are created with the use of metals like gold, silver, copper and brass. The most sophisticated ones are ornamented with precious and semi-precious gems. The craftsmen and women generally choose religion as the main theme of their work.
They portray the images of Catholic saints and Candomble deities on their pieces. The good luck charms such as the clenched fist, the four-leaf clover, the garlic and the famous Bonfim ribbons express the city's religious syncretism. Nature is also portrayed on these pieces, reflecting the local wildlife. Music appears in the atabaque drums, the rain sticks, the water drums and the famous berimbau, along with other typical instruments.
Salvador holds an international reputation as a city where musical instruments that produce unique sounds are made. These instruments are frequently used by world-famous artists in their recording sessions. A place to see Salvador's handcrafts production is Mercado Modelo, which is the biggest handcraft center in Latin America.
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