I found this decorative art in the refectory at the Third Carmelite Order in Pelourinho.  It seems to be two busty mermaids under a rock cave.  The rock cave is shaped like a looking glass.  This is interesting because the busty mermaid is a symbol for Yemanja, the mother goddess in Candomble, who lives in a cave under the sea, and loves looking glasses.  The five pointed star is a symbol for her daughter, Oshun.  The filigree framing the oval looks like a Moorish screen, the design feels Arabic.  It reminds me of artwork found in Islamic mosques in northern Africa.  This ceiling decoration appears to be an example of syncretism, the aggregation of religious beliefs or expressions, in a Catholic convent.  I wonder, was this done with the nuns understanding and consent, or as a covert action to subvert the dominant doctrine?  

One thought on “Symbols

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *