Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
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.
The Pencas (de Balalngandã) are particularly interesting. Charm belts where the charms are mostly to do with African traditions, superstitions and customs.
And interestingly enough you can still see women from Bahia wearing traditional dress for celebrations: