By: Felix Howton
Brazil’s vibrant culture sets it apart, and its superstitions reflect the mix of European, Indigenous and African people that define its history. Unknown to most, more Africans slaves were brought to Brazil during the days of the Trans-Atlantic or Triangular Trade than anywhere else in the world. Unable to practice their traditional religious practices, Brazilian slaves adopted a variety of syncretic religions which combined Roman Catholicism with their West-African traditions. The influence of Afro-Brazilian beliefs on everyday Brazilian superstitions in the contemporary era cannot be overstated. Found primarily in the city of Salvador, Bahia bands are a prominent example of this. The brightly colored silk ribbons comprise a multitude of colors, each with different meanings. While typically tied as bracelets, necklaces, or to a church gate, the location of the band is less important than the manner in which it is tied. Bands are tied in three knots, with each knot representing a unique wish. If the band is cut, then bad luck will ensue, but if the band falls off naturally over time, then the wishes will come true. Generally speaking, the bands represent good fortune and faith and are one of the many ways one might observe African culture at work in Brazil today.