Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-wzw2p Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-27T00:43:38.086Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

2 - Mysteries are Invisible: Understanding images in the Bahia of Dr Raimundo Nina Rodrigues

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2021

Get access

Summary

I have pushpinned two photocopied portraits of Dr Raimundo Nina Rodrigues (1862-1906) on the wall of my office in Amsterdam. They have been sitting there for months now, stuck somewhat unceremoniously between postcards from a summer's trip to the baroque churches of southern Spain, a printout with several how-to-avoid-RSI-exercises from my physiotherapist and teaching schedules for the next semester.

One of the portraits depicts Dr Nina as a young man. It seems to follow the conventions of portraiture in the Brazil of the second half of the 19th century, when – as Ana Maria Mauad tells us – Brazilians were in the grip of a genuine estatuamania (‘statue-mania’) and wanted their portraits to recall the statues of powerful great men on public squares (1997: 228). If that indeed is what the painter has tried to accomplish, the result is not entirely convincing. The portrait shows him to be a pale, skinny doutor, hiding behind an immense moustache and with a look in his eyes that expresses something midway between worry and desperation. The black coat over a spotless white shirt with starched collar, and the fur-trimmed cassock that indicates academic stature hardly produce the desired effect; other than a certain stiffness, there is little in this portrait that recalls the potency and might of a statue towering over a public square.

The other portrait, in an oval frame, was painted not too long before Dr Nina's death. Here he is portrayed full frontal, and made to look like the eminence grise of the Institute for Legal Medicine in Bahia where he was positioned as a professor of forensic medicine. The fur-trimmed cassock is still there, and the moustache – now pointing downwards – is even bigger. The frivolous, embroidered neck scarf of the earlier painting has been replaced by an austere-looking white one. His hair has gone almost as white. It is hard to believe that the man on this painting was only in his late thirties, early forties.

I had read the work of Dr Nina before I had even started my fieldwork in Bahia.

Type
Chapter
Information
Ecstatic Encounters
Bahian Candomblé and the Quest for the Really Real
, pp. 69 - 98
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×