Religious figures and cults in the Reconcavo , Bahia,Brasil

Carlo Castaldi (
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 21:31:31 +0100

Roma 19 - 10 '96
>From September I949 to the end of the term (June - July ) !953 when I
took (and passed) my written and oral examination for my Ph.D. I was a
student of the Anthropology department at Columbia University , N.Y.
I had as an advisor professor Charles Wagley : having followed his courses
we decided that I should leave for Brasil to attempt a typology of
some of the religious figures and cults present in the Reconcavo.
Most of the field work (August'53 - 'April '54 ) was carried out in the
south - eastern coast of the island of Itaparica because the island was
then inhabited almost exclusively by members of the lower classes to whom
such figures and cults were,at least then, most familiar and over whom
they seemed to exercise the greatest influence .Moreover although the
island is quite close to the State Capital it was then isolated enough
to weaken the eventual pressure of a socially "white" censorship.
Three main examples were studied:
1) A candomble de caboclo in Sao Joao where Lilita's terreiro was
2) The figure of a charismatic leader who called himself Saint Venceslau
and lived in Porto do Santo.
3) The figure of a folk doctor combining features of the African
tradition to those belonging to"modern"medicine.His name was Caip€ and
lived in Burraco do Boi.
In April '54 (yes ! April 1954)I returned to Rio to write a first draft
of my thesis then got involved in two other projects which were both
implemented and published and never worte my thesis.
After having lived six years in Brasil, I came back to I Italy and my
life took then another turn but my interest in that old project is still
very much alive.
I would be very grateful to know (even after such an enormous span of
time )if that type of research in that area was or is still carried out (I
suppose the University of Bahia has an Anthropology Department or
possibly,if it still exists , the Fundacao pelo desenvolvimiento da
Ciencia na Bahia - the director then was Thales de Azevedo ) in order to
know their work ,to put at their disposal my old draft ( for what it
may count) and generally to know how the situation stands nowadays .
But most of all to have news about the people whose names I purposely
mentioned and of Walterio dos Santos , nicknamed Vav€ , a good friend
of mine who acted as " a personal adviser "on matters concerning the
island and who also took care of our two horses : I did love all of them
very much.
I do feel like a naufragado who throws a bottle into the sea but you
never know . Muito obrigado e cordialmente,

Carlo Castaldi

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