Raul Lody’s training in anthropology and museology made him ideally suited to the task of organizing the collection of anthropomorphic sculptures housed at the Museu Nacional. He explains that, faced with the number and variety of African and Afro-Brazilian artifacts, he was obliged to separate them into groups based on formal and functional features in order to create an organizational system for the collection. Lody notices that, generally speaking, the portrayal of African gods begins with the choice of materials, ideally gathered in nature and then duly processed in rituals that define their particular function according to the sculptural and architectural traditions of each “terreiro” (Afro-Brazilian centers of ritual worship). Hamilton Malhano’s drawings only illustrate the heads of the sculptures, which show facial carvings that—among yorubá-speaking peoples—can identify a particular deity, social class, or clan affiliation, or are simply adornments or marks indicating a distinction of some kind.
Raul Lody (b. 1952) published a number of studies on this subject, including Vinte e um bastões cerimoniais [21 ceremonial scepters] (Rio de Janeiro: Museu Nacional, 1990), and others that were more focused on the theme such as “Yorubá: um estudo etno-tecnológico de 50 peças da coleção arte africana do Museu Nacional de Belas-Artes” ; “Coleção Arthur Ramos” ; and “Coleção culto afro-Brasileiro: um documento do candomblé na cidade do Salvador” .
Other published articles and studies on this subject by noted specialists that have already been filed in the ICAA digital archive include: Catálogo ilustrado do Museu Folclórico, by Oneyda Alvarenga ; Cosmologias e altares, by Maria Lúcia Montes ; Cem anos de arte afro-brasileira, by Marta Heloísa Salum ; Para nunca esquecer. Negras memórias. Memórias de negros,published by the Museu Histórico Nacional ; and Catálogo do Museu Afro Brasileiro, by Jocélio Teles dos Santos .
There are several articles that complement this document, including Arte e religiosidade afro-brasileira, by Vagner Gonçalves da Silva (São Paulo: Câmara Brasileira do Livro, 2008); the one by the medical doctor and ethnologist [Raimundo] Nina Rodrigues (1862–1906), “As bellas-artes nos colonos pretos do Brazil: a esculptura” , that addresses the presence of sculptures brought from Africa or produced by African slaves and their descendants in Brazil; another is “Religiosidade africana no Brasil; Arte afro-brasilidade” , jointly written by the sociologist Marcondes de Moura and the artist Emanoel de Araújo; and, finally, “Esboço histórico: o elemento negro nas artes plásticas” , by the anthropologist Marianno Carneiro da Cunha.