History of an afro-religious temple in the Brazilian Amazon

History of an afro-religious temple in the Brazilian Amazon

1 April 2021 | Duration of reading: 6 min

By Danilo Barbosa Ferreira

In this text I will introduce you to an afro-religious temple that has more than 130 years of history, and is the oldest in operation in the state of Pará/Brazil: the “Terreiro de Mina Dois Irmãos”. One of the main characteristics of this house is that only women have led it during more than a century of existence. My goal was to study the transitions between generations, in particular the transition from the third to the fourth generation.
          The terreiro Dois Irmãos was founded on August 23, 1890, by a black woman named Josina. According to the researcher Taissa Tavernard (see more here), we don't have much information about Josina, but it is known that she came from Maranhão, probably from the city of Codó. Mãe Josina de Toy Averequete founded the Tambor de Santa Bárbara, which remained open until her death.
          The house was closed for years for large rituals, only the festivities of São Benedito took place during this period. Once Toy Averequete informed me that a woman would appear to ask for authorization to hold the feast of her saint and that they should open the house, because this would be the reopening of the house.

Terreiro de Mina Dois Irmãos. 2019. Photo by Danilo Barbosa.

          Mrs. Carmelina Amâncio Neto, Mãe Amelinha, Josina's “mãe de santo”, was the one responsible for asking for authorization to hold the feast of her saint, São José, revered in Dom José Rei Floriano. Of course, authorization was granted, not only for the feast of São José, but for other “toques”. Amelinha became the second generation of leadership and started the uterine lineage. In an interview, Mãe Amelinha's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Oliveira, told me that the terreiro was renamed "Dois Irmãos" (Two Brothers) after the heads of crôa (the entity responsible for the medium's head) of Mãe Josina and Mãe Amelinha, respectively, Toy Averequete and Dom José Rei Floriano.

Danilo Barbosa (author of this text) and the leaders of the Terreiro de Mina Dois Irmãos. Photo by Danilo Barbosa.

          During the period in which Mãe Amelinha was responsible for the Dois Irmãos, many tasks of the house were the responsibility of her family members, including children and grandchildren. Her blood daughter Luiza Ninfa de Oliveira was chosen as her successor. Mãe Lulu is alive and still participates in all the ceremonies of the terreiro, as well as in festivities in other spaces; together with Mãe Lulu, Eloisa is becoming the fourth generation in the terreiro, responsible for the administrative and religious affairs of the centennial house.

Mãe Eloisa in 2020. Photo by Danilo Barbosa.

 The passage of succession from Mãe Lulu to Mãe Eloisa was the main focus of my research, which was different from all others that have occurred before. Until today, by analyzing comments and conducting interviews, I could notice that the transition was not as harmonious as it seems: not everything that happened in the "little chamber" was exposed to the "salon". 

          This research already shows some solid results, above all the visions that some people have about the house, Regarding its future, eyewitnesses told me that there were at least two people quoted to take over Dois Irmão after the death of Mãe Lulu: Elizabeth Oliveira and Eloisa Oliveira. However, Elizabeth was left on the sidelines so that the uterine lineage would remain unchanged. For the more pessimistic, the house will close with the passing of Lulu, as shown here

          In conclusion, I emphasize that this research is not partial in its development, nor in its analysis. Moreover, my object is to study all the arrangements that were formed during the different transitions, trying as my main objective to build a narrative about the history of the Dois Irmãos, its secrecy and importance, even if it is necessary to go through some conflicts. I conclude by highlighting that this research continues during my Master's degree in PPGCR/UEPA, where I analyze the relationship between inheritance and heredity, the influence of blood family in the saint family.


Science is done collaboratively

          My research on Afro religiosity in Belém has been developed for more than 5 years. It started at the first subject that I took at the History College, in 2015, and it gradually created its own characteristics and became independent from the faculty. During these years of research I was oriented by the researcher and Professor Taíssa Tavernard de Luca, learning about how to act in the field and the paths to follow as a young researcher. Today she is the supervisor of my Master's thesis. Since I am talking about partnership, I must mention Mãe Eloisa and everyone who in 2015 opened the doors of her house to receive me and her archives to tell me part of her family history. Elizabeth Oliveira also received me to talk about her experiences in Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers).

Want to know more? Access the links below!

FERREIRA, Danilo Barbosa. Linhagem feminina no Terreiro de Mina Dois Irmãos: Estudo sobre os 130 anos de mulheres comandando a casa. In: Anais do Programa de Pós Graduação em Ciências da Religião da PUC Campinas, 2020, Campinas. Anais Eletrônicos. São Paulo, PUC Campinas, 2020, p. 41 – 42. (Link)  

LUCA, Taissa Tavernard de. Revisitando o Tambor das Flores a Federação Espirita e Umbandista dos Cultos Afro-Brasileiros do Estado do Pará como Guardiã de uma Tradição. Orientador: Dra. Maria do Carmo Tinoco Brandão. 2003. 174 f. Dissertação (Pós Graduação em Antropologia) – Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, 2003. (Link)

FERREIRA, Danilo Barbosa. Linhagem feminina no Terreiro de Mina: estudo sobre a sucessão da liderança do terreiro de Mina Dois Irmãos – Guamá. 2019. Monografia (Graduação em Licenciatura em Hustória) – Universidade do Estado do Pará, Belém, 2019. (Link)  

VERGOLINO, Anaíza; Tavernard, Taissa. A trajetória das religiões afro-brasileiras em Belém do Pará na versão do povo-de-santo: um caso para a história oral. Org. CAMELO, Marco Antonio da Costa. Et al. In: Sociedade e saberes da Amazônia. Belém: EDUEPA, 2018. (Link)

Danilo Barbosa Ferreira is a historian from the Universidade do Estado do Pará - UEPA. He is a student of the Graduate Program in Religious Sciences - PPGCR / UEPA. He is a member of the African-Brazilian Religions in the Amazon Study Group. Develops research in the areas of heredity and lineage in Afro religions. See more on the Lattes

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