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Life at № 42

Cultural Oddities: Slave Jewellery

Isn’t that an extraordinary picture? All that jewellery you see, it’s gold. Solid gold. Salvador was the birthplace of slave jewellery. I think the concept doesn’t exist in any other culture. Technically they’re called Joias Crioulas (Creole Jewellery)- and there are competing theories on the how’s and why’s. We do know for certain that the relationship between family and house slaves was complex. It’s impossible for bonds not to form when people live together. Some people say the practice was merely a show of wealth and status by slave owners, but I have a feeling there was more to it. I’ve read of cases of women using their jewellery to buy their freedom.

I went to an exhibition of this type of jewellery once, just breathtaking.

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The Pencas (de Balalngandã) are particularly interesting. Charm belts where the charms are mostly to do with African traditions, superstitions and customs.

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And interestingly enough you can still see women from Bahia wearing traditional dress for celebrations:

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6 comments on “Cultural Oddities: Slave Jewellery

  1. Helen Devries
    June 24, 2017

    Was this jewellery given to slaves to make a show, in which case where do the charm belts fit in, or in some cases was it their property? Fascinating trains of thought started up. Is there anything I can read on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      June 24, 2017

      Yes, both things occurred. Some of it was on loan and some of it was owned. Here’s an interesting text.
      The most interesting thing is that slavery and the social context in Brazil were incredibly different to slavery as we know it in the (much more popular) English language literature. In Brazil freeing slaves was a normal practice. In fact by the time of abolition over half of the population of African origin was already free.
      Women had property rights and black men could vote. There are fascinating cases like this:
      “Ambulatory street vendors in the city of Salvador were usually black women, who sold food, clothes, and trinkets door-to-door or from temporary stands on city streets. Foreign observers often commented on these hawkers and their colourful clothes and attention-getting cries. Many of them eventually acquired enough to purchase their own freedom. One of them, Ana de São José da Trindade, had been born in Africa, brought to Brazil at a young age, put to work as a street vendor, and eventually paid for her own freedom. At her death in 1823, this former slave left a three-story house built of dressed stone, which she owned free-and-clear, along with its mahogany furniture and fine china. She also owned nine slaves, two of whom she sent out each day to sell food on the street. Along with her gold and diamond-studded jewellery were the records of money owed to her by other traders. She had moved from being a slave to being a middle-class householder, slave owner, and successful businesswoman.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen Devries
        June 24, 2017

        I will try to follow up that link.
        Yes, the the North American context one tends to think of slaves as farmhands, tied to one place….not as street sellers on behalf of their owners.
        I seem to remember that in imperial Rome slaves could be hired out as tutors and could earn enough on the side to buy their freedom – if their master consented.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. appletonavenue
    June 30, 2017

    I had no idea. Thanks for the fascinating history lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 2, 2017

      Fascinating, isn’t it? I notice more and more how most of our knowledge (no matter the country we’re from) is based almost entirely on the experience of our own people, and that alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. meethiflyer
    August 3, 2017

    Rich article 🌸
    𝗖𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗼 𝗼𝗻 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗼𝗹𝗲:
    https://unpluggedcreations.com/2017/07/31/creole-greetings-i/

    Like

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This entry was posted on June 23, 2017 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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