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

Two Multi-Strand Necklaces for the Candomblé God Ogum

Catalog Number: C097


48.00" (circumference) x 0.60" (bead)

1,219.20 (circumference) x 15.31 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:

This necklace invokes the god of war and iron, Ogum, and marks the wearer’s devotion to this god.  Ogum is associated with, among other things, iron tools. In Brazil, his emblematic color is blue and his sacred number 7.  Both of these elements of his iconography are evident in these necklaces.  21 is the most typically used multiple of 7, since 3 is also a sacred number in this tradition.

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. 

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.