Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Multi-strand Necklace for the Candomblé God Xangô

Catalog Number: C095


51.00" (circumference) x 0.77" (width of groups of strands) x 0.79" (bead)

1,295.40 mm x 19.63 mm (width of groups of strands) x 20.30 mm (bead)

Religion and Denomination: Candomblé (Brazil)
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: Brazil
Ethnographic Origin: Bahian (Brazil)
Materials: Glass
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

In ritual contexts, Candomble initiates wear necklaces typically made of glass, crystal, or ceramic beads like these in order to invite the protection of the gods and to show their devotion, as well. These necklaces are a critical component of Candomblé practice. Before being worn, these necklaces will be consecrated by a pai- or maē-de-santo–that is, chief priest of the temple.

This necklace is specifically a tribute to the god Xangô. Xangô is the warrior god of lightening and thunder and his colors, in Brazil, are ochre red and white, like those of this specific necklace.  That there are 12 strands of beads is a further element of this god’s iconography.  His sacred number is twelve, and there are 12 avatars, or versions, of this god, each with its own distinctive history and slighty divergent iconography.

People whose head is ruled by Xangô are reputed to be charming, competent at leadership and administration, fun-loving and portly. 

Practitioners of Candomblé were long persecuted in Brazil, with instances of particular temples’ protection and sponsorship by the powerful.  However, this religion and its elaborate festivals for the gods have now become a tourist attraction, particularly in the state of Bahia.  So have the baianas de acarajé, street vendors of bean fritters, a food important in the worship of the gods.  These women are often Candomblé devotess, assigned by the gods to this career.  While frying and selling their bean fritters and other delicacies, they regularly wear Candomblé-related dresses and beads of this sort.  Similarly dressed women are a required element of Rio de Janeiro’s elaborate yearly Carnaval processions.  Candomblé has become an emblem of Black identity and the movement for racial equality in Brazil and throughout the African diaspora.  More recently, it has become a target of condemnation and persecution by the rapidly growing Protestant population of Brazil.