The costumes of the Afoxé Filhos de Gandhy from Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
It was 1949 and a group of dockworkers – who had enjoyed great fortune in the bygone previous years – were finding it hard to fund the Carnival celebrations for that year. That is the very starting point of the afoxé Filhos de Gandhy, an association of people who had put together a sacred and yet profane party at the same time. The main objective of this presentation is to show the trajectory of the costumes adopted by the group since 1949. In that year, shocked by the end of World War II and by the assassination of the Mahatma Gandhi in India, the founding members decided to use white sheets provided by the prostitutes of the harbour to form their first costume, which was to become a uniform of the celebration for many years, dealing with specific colours, rituals, dances, fabric and songs. These were soon to be related to the ancestry of Candomblé, a religion black slaves had brought with them from Africa – and which is still followed by a large number of people in Brazil. From 38 initial black people, nowadays 15,000 associates form a wave of performers who embrace the city of Salvador during Carnival. It is their costumes, which are part of different rituals, that we investigate in this presentation.
Fausto Viana is a set and costume design professor at The School of Communications and Arts at University of São Paulo, in Brazil. He has designed sets and costumes for over 50 productions. As an author, he has published sixteen books on costumes. Together with Professor Isabel Italiano, he has worked on the reconstruction of Brazilian costumes from the 16th to the 19th centuries.