Sacred Art

Sacred Art

Catholic Saints and Candomble Gods in Modern Brazil
Henry Glassie and Pravina Shukla
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/20/2017
Format: Hardback 450 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03205-8
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


Sacred art flourishes today in northeastern Brazil, where European and African religious traditions have intersected for centuries. Professional artists create images of both the Catholic saints and the African gods of Candomblé to meet the needs of a vast market of believers and art collectors.

Over the past decade, Henry Glassie and Pravina Shukla conducted intense research in the states of Bahia and Pernambuco, interviewing the artists at length, photographing their processes and products, attending Catholic and Candomblé services, and finally creating a comprehensive book, governed by a deep understanding of the artists themselves.

Beginning with Edival Rosas, who carves monumental baroque statues for churches, and ending with Francisco Santos, who paints images of the gods for Candomblé terreiros, the book displays the diversity of Brazilian artistic techniques and religious interpretations. Glassie and Shukla enhance their findings with comparisons from art and religion in the United States, Nigeria, Portugal, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, and Japan and gesture toward an encompassing theology of power and beauty that brings unity into the spiritual art of the world.

Author Bio

Henry Glassie is College Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and has received many awards for his work. Three of his eighteen books—Passing the Time in Ballymenone, The Spirit of Folk Art, and Turkish Traditional Art Today—were named among the notable books of the year by the New York Times.

Pravina Shukla is Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University and is the author of Costume: Performing Identities through Dress and the award-winning book The Grace of Four Moons. She is also the coauthor of The Individual and Tradition.


“This unique, valuable study of vernacular religious art carries a positive assessment of the power of art to define what is religious and ultimately what is human. Scholars often speculate on the art of the people, the individuals who make it, the communities and family units from which it issues, the markets where it is sold, and the collectors who pursue it. Through painstaking ethnographic fieldwork, Glassie and Shukla answer these questions, imparting an appreciation of how material creation is central to the human interaction with the divine. Admirably linking folklore research to theology—especially the vernacular theology lived by Catholics and African-based believers in Brazil— this book should become required reading in theology and religious studies departments.”
 — Leonard Norman Primiano, Cabrini University

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

An Introduction
1. The Historical Center
2. Modern Masters of Sacred Art
3. The Sculptor’s Story
4. Markets for Sacred Art
5. Ibimirim: Carvers in the Sertão
6. Maragojipinho: Sacred Clay in Bahia
7. Tracunhaém: Sacred Clay in Pernambuco
8. Painting in Olinda
9. Carving in Cachoeira
10. Return to Pelourinho
11. Saints and Orixás in Pelourinho
12. Smiths of the Sacred
13. The Painter of Orixás
14. Power and Beauty
15. Time Passes

Related Titles