THE EXUS OF SÃO JOAQUIM
Kithi and Doris Pinheiro*
Photos and videos: Kithi
Cover sculpture: Jairo Arte
Saluting and asking permission is the first thing to do when talking about Exu. Sacred symbol of the way, the Lord of Communication. Larôye! And it is for him that we ask permission and blessings in this first multimedia report by the LEIAMAISba Culture Editorial. Exu, Aluvaiá or Bombo, Elegbara, Legbá ... for each nation a way to call the messenger, but the energy, characteristics and way of worshiping the Orixá are similar.
A fair where Exu multiplies
The market, the fair, are Exu's place par excellence.
At the fair, it is usually where we buy food for the physical body. But at Feira de São Joaquim it is different. There we also find food for the soul.
In “São Joaquim you can find everything”, say the elders. An everything and all kinds of people. And where there are people, there is Exu, an entity that communicates between divinities and people and vice versa.
So, with the desire to find the Exus personified in the sculptures, we went to São Joaquim.
As soon as we entered we found a giant-sized Exu. A sculpture, over two meters high, made by the artist Samuel.
It was in the place where the paths cross.
There, at the crossroads, is where life is often decided. The crossroads represent “the choice” of the direction to be followed. This is the place of Exu. Movement location. The flow of energy in multiple directions. Place of chaos from which enlightenment springs.
Moving on, we came across the Casa São Jorge box, specialized in the sale of sculptures representative of the various types of Exus and in tools from other deities.
There we find sculptures of Exu in metal, wood and cement.
We also find Jairo Arte working on a sculpture on the upper floor of the store, where he has a studio with all the tools necessary for handling metal.
Jairo said that Jorge das Ferramentas, owner of the box and artist, had left, but that he would soon arrive. In addition to the Exus, we were going to meet two artists.
Jairo also produces Orixás tools
Luck? Or Exu, the Lord of the Ways, guiding and opening the doors for us to know a little more about his energy and movement? And pass this knowledge on to you who read this article?
Despite not following the Afro-Brazilian religion, Jairo says that at a certain point in his life, when things were difficult in a material sense, Jorge invited him to work at the store as a salesman.
With the need to produce more metal parts, he moved on to the production of Exus and tools for the orixás. The experience as a salesman gave him the knowledge necessary to produce spiritual artifacts.
And he learned the trade and found space to create and express himself artistically. In addition to orders from the store, he produces his own works, such as the sculpture of “Caveirinha na Chair.
At every entrance to Santo's house there is an Exu. And proudly, Jairo says: “there is sculpture by Casa São Jorge in almost all candomblés in Salvador”.
Jairo tells how he learned to do Exu. The sculpture at the entrance of the video is a work of Jairo
Jorge arrived and with him many customers. Each one bringing their orders, usually based on dreams and warnings from Orixá.
A full store is a good thing. Energy of exchange, activity and abundance, dynamics of life linked directly to the messenger.
Interestingly, the sculptures that are more rusty are preferred by tourists, buyers always present at Casa São Jorge.
Jorge excuses his customers for a chat with us. He goes on showing the tools that are the emblems and symbols of the Orixás and the sculptures, making reference to the authors, and tells us that when designing his pieces, Exu often blows inspiration into his ear.
Sculpture by Rita Bahia made of cement
While Jorge das Ferramentas talked with us, Rita Bahia arrived, the only woman from the Feira de São Joaquim to produce Exus. Rita found in wood and cement the ideal materials to express her creativity.
Although the creative source is the same person, the works of wood and cement are completely different. The wooden ones refer to African sculptures while the cement ones bring the memory of Buddha, distancing itself from the representative symbolism of the Orixá within the Afro-Brazilian religions.
Jorge, Exus producer, shows the tools of the Orixás
“People praise and encourage me in the production of the sculptures, I never suffered discrimination because I was a woman”, says Rita Bahia.
Your Lock Street
The best place to find the material used to create the sculptures is the junkyards. The car parts, mainly the shock absorber, pieces of iron and all kinds of metals found ahead are elements to compose the work.
The order is to paste the "pieces" giving shape to the entity from the characteristics of its personality, for example: in the representation of Seu Tranca Rua elements always appear that refer to the act of locking, such as the padlock.
The threshold that separates art from craftsmanship is tenuous, and visibly, the sculptors of the Exus of São Joaquim have not yet realized the real artistic value present in their sculptures.
But anyone who goes to one of the boxes where Orixás tools are sold and opens their eyes and hearts to the work of these artists will understand how true this is.
Exu wants party and respect
Present in all houses of Afro-Brazilian tradition, Exu is cheerful, likes to party, to play, to “party”, to make adventures, but he is also a guardian who knows the “various worlds” and speaks several languages.
He likes respect, like any Orixá.
You can walk in any direction and speak any language, depending on the thoughts and actions of humans.
In the liturgy of Afro-Brazilian religions, he is the first to be revered.
Solange Borges, kota of Terreiro Unzo Nganga
Kuatelesa Ninza, from Angola Paketan nation,
by Inkise (Orixá) Tatetu Hongolo (Oxumaré) says that
when talking about Exu and Orixá we are referring to
Yoruban culture, the most widespread in Brazil
because of the early researchers and complete speaking
that each house is a house and each has its own
way of conducting spirituality.
There is the pagan or street Exu, the baptized Exu, who serves the Orixá and the crowned Exu, who has already ascended in the practice of good. All worshiped.
There is only Candomblé with the presence of Exu. He is responsible for all communication between humans and the Orixás and is the one who protects the terreiros and people from all harm.
When playing the conches it is he who responds. It is also he who takes the speech of humans to the deities and brings the responses of the deities to us humans.
Before any movement, any party, any ritual, Exu is first greeted. It is Exu who invites the Orixás to the circular dance, to the Xirê.
The country's greatest authority on “Exu”, the professor of African History, Philosophy of Education and Philosophy of Ancestrality at the Federal University of Recôncavo in Amargosa, Emanuel Soares, says that Xirê, a festive ceremony open to the public, is the symbol maximum of inter-African syncretism of candomblés in which Orixás dance together, all summoned by Exu, who was fed at Padê, an offering that can be public or private and that starts the housework.
It is a request for permission, for opening paths.
The afoxé Filhos de Gandhy makes a beautiful Padê de Exu before leaving for Salvador's carnival. Ask for peace and clear paths.
Follow the afoxé Filhos de Gandhy
Getting to know Exu requires time ... Time spent by the initiate in the terreiro, time necessary for the elders to teach through orality, a way of transmitting knowledge in the houses of Santo, time to cover the entire liturgical year of African Brazilian companies, which have a well-defined calendar.
But, in fact, Exu is indecipherable and for this reason feared by many people. Professor Emanuel Soares emphasizes this strength of divinity, often so poorly understood.
Exu's neutral character allows influence to be on both sides. It influences the human being and vice versa. Thus, good and bad are part of its essence, a reflection of humanity. Exu represents all the possibilities and contradictions. Exu does not submit to the established.
Red and black are the colors of Exu and his guide (necklace). A “purinha”, good quality distilled cachaça is your favorite drink. Seven is your number. Monday is your day.
“Exu is the dynamic principle and the achievement. It is man in motion, it is his desire manifested, it is what he is. Exu, is the exercise without barriers of his will and the free will of man himself ”.
Candomblecist Claudinei Abreu, from the Ketu nation, from Ilê Asé Ode Deloi, has Ayra, Xangô minister, as the head Orixá. But for him the deity Exu is his foundation, it is the path itself
Exu, the educator
Professor Emanuel Soares, in his doctoral thesis “As Vinte e Uma Faces de Eshu in the Afro-descendant Philosophy of Education: Images, Discourses and Narratives” talks about the pedagogical sense of divinity, the way he teaches, using various devices to lead the other to reflect on his own ways and tells one of the myths connected to Exu.
The story goes like this:
"The diviner Orumilá was lost in the forest, not knowing how to get to the house of a friend, of which he had the address, but even so he could not find the way, having been walking in circles for hours.
Suddenly, Orumilá meets Exu and, after the usual greetings, says how good it was to find him and asks if he knew those woods. Exu replies that he knows it like the back of his hand, so Orumilá asks Exu to guide him.
Exu plays the game, until Orumilá, realizing his interest in money asks how much he wants to take him. Exu replies that he wants 16 healers, a price that Orumilá thinks is expensive, since it is the amount corresponding to his divination with Ifá.
Orumilá claims that the divination technique is difficult and cannot be compared to the geographical wisdom of Exu, who replies, saying that although he does not know how to play Ifá, he knows the way, which I guess, with all his wisdom, did not know.
Seeing himself dead end Orumilá pays Exu the price demanded by the lord of the ways and he takes the diviner to his friend's house, which was very close to where they were, to Orumilá's amazement ...
Exu comes out laughing with the wise man's money in his pocket. The lesson that remains from this myth is that everyone is important in their knowledge, neither more nor less, all knowledge is important. "
* report guided by Doris Pinheiro and produced primarily for the news site Leia Mais. Authorized by Leia Mais, we replicated the report with some minor changes.