Saints, Not Angels
n January 22, 1927, days after first detailing Bahia’s charms to
Mário de Manuel Bandeira followed up with two postcards.
One bears a photograph Salvador’s dockside customs house, today
a bustling, tourist- riented handicrafts market known as the Mer-
cado Modelo. On the back of the card, Bandeira instructed Andrade
to “Look at this stupendous warehouse. It’s the customs house. A co-
lonial building. The windows are made of white marble.”
This de-
scription and the injunction to look accord rather well with Bandeira’s
fascination with colonial buildings as well as with his initial letter
to Andrade, dated January 14. There, as recounted in this book’s in-
troduction, Bandeira linked poorly maintained but imposing Pe lou-
rinho mansions to Portugal’s colonial venture while describing these
buildings’ occupation by Afro- Brazilian women whose presence he
noted on the basis of the shadows thrown by their home altars. This
engagement with the visible, the invisible, and the almost visible, like
his concern with witnessing, experience, and the knowing subject’s
relationship to colonial Brazil, is also an important part of the sec-
ond card Bandeira mailed to Andrade on January 22. That “other”
communication provides a slightly different perspective on Salvador’s
Comércio district and the epistemic connections whose analysis make
up the core of this book.
The face of what I will describe as the second postcard— I have
been unable to uncover the order of their assembly on January 22, so
it may have been the first— reproduces the view afforded even today
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