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This video is intersting because it is taken with the perspective of exploring Brazilian dances and the culture(s) around them.  It does a good job of bringing you into the how people experience candomblé.  For those that are interested in practicing your Português, it's all in Português.  It's worth it to listen and hear, and they talk about some intersting stuff.


from Davis, Dari�n J., Afro-Brazilians: Time for Recognition, Minority Rights Group International, 1999

    •    7    Derived from the Yoruba people of West Africa, Candomblé seeks harmony with nature.  The religion is organized around religious centres known as terreiros, which are usually led by high priestesses, mães de santo (mother of saints) or priests, pais de santos (father of saints).  Followers worship a pantheon of orixás in an annual cycle, like the liturgical cycle of the Catholic Church.  While orixás are more powerful than human beings they are not necessarily more moral.  Each deity represents a given force or element in nature, and has a favourite colour and type of food.  Yemanja, for example, is the goddess of the sea, who usually dresses in blue and white.  The favourite colour of Oxun, the goddess of beauty, is yellow.  In the religious ceremonies, practitioners dress in the colours of the orixás and place food at the altar before singing special songs and dancing precisely choreographed steps to the sacred drums.  The anthropomorphic nature of the orixá allows an intimate contact between believer and deity, and the highlight of the Candomblé ceremony is the epiphany, or possession, when the orixá takes over the believer's body.



Translated by yours truly Guatambu (any improvements to the translation contact me)


    •    Exú – Messenger of the Orixás  Colors: red & black  Weekday: Monday

    •    Ogum – Orixá of war & blacksmiths  Colors: blue & green  Weekday: Tuesday

    •    Oxóssi – Orixá of the hunt & king of the forests  Colors: green & blue  Weekday: Thursday

    •    Omolú/Obaluaiê – Orixá of medicine  Colors: brown, the color of straw  Weekday: Monday

    •    Nanã – oldest Orixá, 1st wife of Oxalá, goddess of death  Colors: purple/lavender  Weekday: Sunday

     •    Oxumaré – Orixá of wealth represented by rainbows & snakes  Colors: yellow & green  Weekday: Tuesday

    •    Logunedé – The hunter son of Oxum & Oxóssi  Colors: yellow & blue  Weekday: Thursday

    •    Iansã – Mistress of winds & storms  Colors: brown & red  Weekday: Wednesday

    •    Xangô – Master of justice  Colors: red and white, brown and white  Weekday: Wednesday

    •    Oxum – Orixá of love, fertility & maternity  Colors: yellow  Weekday: Saturday

    •    Iemanjá – Goddess of the sea, 2nd wife to Oxalá  Colors: silver & white  Weekday: Saturday

    •    Ossaim – Orixá of plants  Colors: green & white w/ a red stripe  Weekday: Thursday

    •    Obá – Orixá of winds  Colors: pink & coral  Weekday: Wednesday

    •    Irokô – Orixá of weather  Colors: white & gray  Weekday: Tuesday

    •    Oxalá/Oxalufã – The head Orixás  Colors: white  Weekday: Friday


from "Candomblé - O Mundo dos Orixás"

Examples of Orixás and their corresponding Catholic Saints

Oxalá - Jesus Christ

Oxóssi - Saint Sebastian

Iemanjá - Our Lady of Navigators

Ogum - Saint George

Obá - Saint Joan of Arc

Exú - Saint Anthony

Xangô - Saint John the Baptist

Nanã - Saint Ann

Oxumaré - Saint Bartholemew

Ibeji - Saints Cosme and Damian

Ossaim - Saint Roque

Omulú - Saint Lazarus

Iansã - Saint Barbara

Oxum - Our Lady of the Conception

Ewá - Saint Luzia

from Boadi-Siaw, S. Y, Brazilian Returnees of West Africa, In J. E. Harris (ed), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, Howard University Press, 1979 ISBN 088 2581 49X

    •    297. . . .  Brazilian religious life shows the pervasive influence of African (particularly Yoruba, Ewe and Fon) practices and beliefs.  Almost pure forms of West African worship and practices remain in the candomblé, orixás and macumba found in many parts of Brazil, especially in Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.  In spite of attempts in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries to suppress them through public campaigns and police action, they have persisted and have maintained their vitality through contacts with their West African sources.  

Apart from the purely West African religious houses and cults, popular beliefs and practices of professing Roman Catholics also show the influence of African religions.  Syncreticism has resulted, for example, in the identification of African gods with Roman Catholic saints and their worship as such.  This began in earlier periods when slaves, expected to be Catholics and unable to worship African gods freely, gave them Roman Catholic saint-names and their worship as such.  Thus, Xangô, the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning, became St. Jeronymo; Oxossi, the god of hunting, St. George; Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea, Our Lady of Mercy and of Rosary.  In the worship of the god-saints, the African elements are thoroughly mixed with Roman Catholic ones, both in the cult houses and the churches.

from Wikipedia...é (it's actually quite good believe it or not)

The Candomblé ritual (toque) has two parts: the preparation, attended only by priests and initiates, which may start a week in advance; and a festive public "mass" and banquet that starts in the late evening and ends around midnight.

In the first part, initiates and aides wash and iron the costumes for the ceremony, and decorate the house with paper flags and festoons, in the colors favored by the Orixas that are to be honored on that occasion.  They also prepare food for the banquet. Some domestic animals are slaughtered; some parts reserved for sacrifice, the rest is prepared for the banquet.  On the day of the ceremony, starting in the early morning, cowrie-shell divinations (jogo de búzios) are performed, and sacrifices are offered to the desired Orixás, and to the messenger spirit (Exú in Ketu).

In the public part of the ceremony, children-of-saint (mediunic priests) invoke and "incorporate" Orixás, falling into a trance-like state.  After having fallen into trance, the priest-spirits perform dances symbolic of the Orixá's attributes, while the babalorixá or father of saint (leading male priest) leads songs that celebrate the spirit's deeds.  The ceremony ends with a banquet.

Candomblé music, an essential part of the ritual, derives from African music and has had a strong influence in other popular (non-religious) Brazilian music styles.  The word batuque, for instance, has entered the Brazilian vernacular as a synonym of "rhythmic percussion music".

Candomblé temples are called houses (casas), plantations (roças), or yards (terreiros).  Most Candomblé houses are small, independently owned and managed by the respective higher priests (father- or mother-of-saint).  A few of the older and larger houses have a more institutional character and more formal hierarchy.  There is no central administration.  Inside the place of worship are the altars to the Orixás, or Pejis.

Candomblé priesthood is organized into symbolic families, whose members are not necessarily relatives in the common sense.  Each family owns and manages one house.  In most houses, especially the larger ones, the head of the family is always a woman, the mãe-de-santo, or ialorixá, mother-of-saint in Candomblé , seconded by the pais-de-santo, or babalorixá father-of-saint.  The priests and priestesses may also be known as ialorixá, babalorixá , babalaos (interpreters of búzios), babas, babaloshas,and candomblezeiros.  Some houses have a more flexible hierarchy which allows the father-of-saint to be the head priest.  Often during the slave period, the women became the diviners and healers which was not part of African tradition; however, the male slaves were constantly working and did not have the time to take care of daily instances.

Admission to the priesthood and progression in the hierarchy is conditioned to approval by the Orixás, possession of the necessary qualities, learning the necessary knowledge, and performance of lengthy initiation rites, which last seven years or more.  There are generally two types of priesthood in the different nations of Candomble, and they are made up of those who fall in trance by the Orixá (iyawo) and those who do not (Oga – male/Ekeji – female).  It is important not to confuse the meaning and usage of the Yoruba term iyawò (bride in Yoruba) with other African derived religions that use the same term with different meanings.

The seclusion period for the initiation of an iyawo lasts generally 21 days in the Ketu nation and varies depending on the nation.  The iyawo's role in the religion is assigned by a divination made by her/his babalorixá/ialorixá; one function that an iyawo can be assigned for is to take care of neophytes as they in their initiatic seclusion period, becoming an expert in all the Orisa foods, becoming an iya or babalorisa themselves, or knowing all ritual songs, etc...  The iyawos follow a 7 years period of apprenticeship within which they offer periodical sacrifices in order to reinforce their initiatic links in the form of the so-called obligations of 1, 3 and 7 years.  At the 7th year, the iyawos earn their title and can get a honorific title or religious post (oye in Yoruba).  Once the iyawo has accomplished their 7th year cycle obligation, they become elders (egbon in Yoruba, egbomi in Brazil, which means my elder) within their religious family.

The other priesthood is reserved for those who do not fall in trance.  Ogas and Ekejis do not endure the same path to eldership as do iyawos; they are regarded as elders immediately after their initiation.  Their role is to help the baba/ialorixá in different specific ritual tasks like drumming, singing, cooking, taking care of the orixá shrines and when he/she comes down in possession trance, etc...  Ogas and Ekejis usually do not go on to become baba/ialorixá, nor do they open their own temples or have filhos de santo (they do not initiate others).