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BAHIA , the first region to be colonized in *Brazil and today a state within the federal republic situated in the northeast of the country. In 2005 the general population was 13,085,769, and the Jewish population about 800.

Colonial Period

The presence of Portuguese *New Christians began with the discovery, conquest, and colonization of Brazil, then inhabited by dozens of groups of indigenous peoples. When the tribunal of the *Inquisition was established in Portugal (1536; operating until 1821), and after the first auto-de-fé (1540), the immigration of New Christians to the Brazilian colony grew, and many of them arrived in Bahia with the first governors. Some sources maintain that one New Christian, Gaspar da Gama, was part of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet, in 1500. There were a significant number of Jews involved in sciences and the art of navigation in Portugal during the period of overseas expansion in the early 1400s. The Tribunal do Santo Ofício da Inquisição, created in Portugal, did not settle permanently in colonial Brazil. As of 1591, the Tribunal do Santo Ofício made several visits to Brazil, powers were delegated to some bishops, like for instance the bishop of Bahia, and clergymen would indict people for Jewish practices directly in Lisbon.

In the second half of the 16th century, Bahia absorbed New Christians who contributed to the establishment of the first villages, to the mercantilist state, and to the Church struggle against the Indians, to the finance of and participation in the expeditions to the interior, and to cultivation of the land and of sugar cane in particular. Production and trade in sugar cane became the chief source of wealth of Brazil in the second half of the 16th and the 17th centuries. Besides sugarmill lords, New Christians were slave merchants, farmers, and craftsmen, among other occupations. They ascended socially and economically, but they were faced with the restrictions of belonging to religious orders or political spheres, such as the Irmandades de Misericórdia and Câmaras Municipais.

News about the New Christian prosperity, their increasing numbers, and slight attachment to Catholicism led the inquisitors to set up a board of inquiry in Bahia to locate judaizers. Their sessions, known as Visitações (visitations), were held initially in 1591–95 and in 1618 aiming at judaizers, condemned sexual practices, witchcraft, and Holy Church slanderers. Between 1618 and 1619 a total of 134 people were indicted, of whom 90 were accused of being judaizers. Most of them were not taken to court and many fled from Brazil to other regions colonized by the Spaniards.

Between 1624 and 1625 the Dutch Colonial Empire conquered Bahia. Then religious tolerance was established, although just a few New Christians were in the region and a few Jews came to Bahia with the Dutch expeditionary forces.

An important investigation, known as the 1646 Inquiry, was carried out in Bahia in the 17th century, at the Jesuit seminary. With the aid of various testimonies, this inquiry revealed the role that the Portuguese of Jewish descent played in the political, economic, and administrative life in Bahia. In the 18th century many members of Brazilian families were still prevented from assuming public office because they were descendants of those denounced in 1646.

The New Christians continued to hold important positions in Bahian society until the end of the 18th century. In 1773, during the liberal government of Marques de Pombal, general governor of Brazil, the differentiation between new Christians and old Christians was abolished and the inquisitional procedures came to an end. Consequently the New Christians were then totally integrated into society at large, their descendants being among the prominent and ancient families of Bahia.

The Inquisition in Brazil was less systematic and more infrequent then its Portuguese counterpart, probably owing to the difficult control of the colony, the fact that a permanent tribunal was never established, and the greater permeability within the social and religious relations established in the Portuguese New World.

According to Wiznitzer, around 25,000 people were brought to court by the Portuguese Inquisition, out of whom 1,500 were condemned to capital punishment. In Brazil, approximately 400 judaizers were sued, most of them condemned to imprisonment, and 18 New Christians were condemned to death in Lisbon.

The presence of New Christians in colonial Bahia and Brazil has always been a controversial issue in both Brazilian and Portuguese historiography. More studies on Jewish history have been published in Brazil with regard to the colonial period than about modern times, which shows the broad interest aroused by the theme of the New Christians and the Inquisition in Brazil. Some historians believe that the interventions of the Inquisition Tribunal in Brazil, supported by the nobility and the Catholic clergy, aimed at expropriating the New Christians' possessions and impeding the social ascension of a group with bourgeois aspirations. Therefore, the Inquisition created a myth regarding origin and purity of blood which discriminated against those with "infected blood" according to the Statutes on Blood Purity. Other historians see strictly religious and political reasons related to the history of the Portuguese Catholic Church and Portuguese Empire.

Meanwhile, some historians maintain that Judaism or Crypto-Judaism was "fabricated" during the inquisitional processes (that is, by means of intimidating, indicting, menacing, and torturing, the inquisition "created" such Judaism ito justify its own existence and legitimacy); some others argue that New Christians deliberately and furtively professed Judaic or Crypto-Judaic elements inherited from their ancestors. According to Anita Novinsky, the New Christian was a "split human being," socially and existentially, with a differentiated identity in the Portuguese-Brazilian colonial world.

The antisemitism found in the Inquisition's procedures did not lead to the spread of antisemitism among the population in Bahia or Brazil, although the mental hold of the Inquisition and the terror it possessed can hardly be assessed. There are no apparent connections between the history of the New Christians and contemporary 20th-century Jewish history in Bahia. Nevertheless, the remote (and secret) Jewish origin of many traditional Catholic Portuguese families is quite well known, as a memory of the Jewish community and the Bahian population at large, specially among its elites.

Contemporary Period

The Jewish community in Salvador, the capital of Bahia, consisted of approximately 200 families with an active cultural and political life, which reached its peak between the 1930s and 1950s. Jewish immigrants coming from Eastern Europe started settling in Salvador in the 1920s.

Records show that small groups of Jewish immigrants also settled in Ilhéus and Itabuna, in the region where a local economy based on cocoa flourished, and in Bonfim, Petrolina, Juazeiro, and Jacobina, along the banks of the São Francisco River (the most important in the State). In Salvador, a synagogue started to function at a private household in 1924, in 1925 the Jewish Jacob Dinenzon school was created. During the 1930s, a second school was founded, Ber Borochov, with Zionist leanings, differing from the Jacob Dinenzon school in its progressive and Yiddishist orientation. The new school operated slightly over a decade, after which the community favored the older school. In 1970, there were 120 students registered at the latter, which closed down in 1978 because many families had immigrated to other cities. In addition, the Jewish community in Salvador opened a cemetery and ran the Sociedade Beneficente. Zionist women's organizations emerged, such as wizo and Naamat-Pioneiras, and the Jewish minority organized itself around the Sociedade Israelita da Bahia, founded in 1947. In 1968 the Hebraica Club of Salvador was founded. In politics, Mário Kertesz was mayor of the capital and Boris Tabacof was finance secretary of the State of Bahia. In 2004, those who remained organized themselves around the synagogue.


Documents of the Arquivo Histórico Judaico Brasileiro; A. Wiznitzer, Os judeus no Brasil colonial (1960); A. Novinsky, Cristãos-Novos na Bahia (1972); E. Lipiner, Os judaizantes nas capitanias de cima. São Paulo – estudos sobre os Cristãos-Novos do Brasil nos séculos xvi e xvii (1969); A.J. Saraiva, Inquisição e Cristãos-Novos (1969); M.C. Maio and C. Calaça. "Um balanço da bibliografia sobre anti-semitismo no Brasil," in: bibRevista Brasileira de Informação Bibliográfica em Ciências Sociais, no. 49 (2000) 15–50; Os judeus na Bahia, Special Supplement, in: Shalom, no. 296, n/d.

[Roney Cytrynowicz (2nd ed.)]

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Bahía, the name given to one of several prehistoric cultures in coastal Ecuador during the Regional-Developmental Period (500 bce–500 ce). Bahía is named after the large bay at the mouth of the Chone River, Bahía de Caráquez, but its territory extends 90 miles down the coast to southern Manabí Province. It was formally defined by Ecuadorian Emilio Estrada in the late 1950s, on the basis of his deep excavations in the modern city of Bahía de Caráquez and nearby sites. Other Bahía occupations have been documented at Los Esteros and Tarquí (near modern Manta), Salango, and La Plata Island.

Where not destroyed by modern settlement, some sites appear to have been true urban centers with ceremonial precincts and rectangular platform mounds having a formal grid plan. La Plata Island served as an important religious sanctuary where regular pilgrimages were made for ritual events and where votive offerings of figurines and other objects were repeatedly deposited. Ceremonial activity has also been documented at Salango, in southern coastal Manabí, where archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a 120-square-yard, adobe-walled temple structure bordered by deep wall trenches, stone alignments, and linear posthole patterns. Given the large number of Bahía burials uncovered and the richness of their associated grave offerings, the structure has been interpreted as a ceremonial/mortuary one for elite sectors of Bahía society.

Apart from these scientific excavations, much knowledge of this culture comes from the elaborate ceramic artifacts that have been unearthed both by professional archaeologists and by commercially motivated looters. Although some traits show continuity with the earlier Chorrera culture (such as iridescent painting), new vessel forms, decorative techniques, and thematic imagery also appear in Bahía pottery. New types of ceramic artifacts include miniature house models, head rests, and "golf-tee" ear plugs said to represent Asiatic influences, presumably through trans-Pacific contact. Anthropomorphic figurines appear in a wide variety of forms and sizes, including the small, solid, mold-made Esteros type and the larger, hollow La Plata type. The latter are decorated with multicolored postfire pigments similar to those of Jama-coaque figurines. Crudely shaped anthropomorphic figures also appear on tusk-shaped stone pendants. One artifact type unique to the Bahía culture is the carved stone plaque made from volcanic tuff, which is apparently restricted to La Plata Island. Typically these are decorated on one side with carved geometric designs in a quadripartite layout, usually small incised circles inside an X-shaped figure. No contextual information is available, but suggested functions range from gaming pieces to navigational devices.

The urban character, elaborate ceremonialism, and mortuary ritual of the largest Bahía sites indicate considerable sociopolitical complexity, very likely a stratified chiefdom, or señorío, with a well-defined regional settlement hierarchy. In spite of the littoral nature of the site thus far studied, the Bahía culture probably had a strong agricultural base supported by a tributary population of inland farmers and craft specialists. External contacts were most intensive with adjacent Regional-Developmental chiefdoms to the north, south, and east, although long-distance voyaging for exotic resources, such as precious stones, may have occurred.

See alsoGuangala; Precontact History: Latin America in the Precontact Period.


Emilio Estrada, Arqueología de Manabí central (1962).

Matthew Stirling and Marian Stirling, "Tarquí: An Early Site in Manabí Province, Ecuador," in Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 186 (1963): 1-28.

Jorge G. Marcos and Presley Norton, "Interpretación sobre la arqueología de la Isla de la Plata," in Miscellánea antropológica ecuatoriana 1, no. 1 (1981): 136-154.

Robert A. Feldman and Michael E. Moseley, "The Northern Andes," in Ancient South Americans, edited by Jesse D. Jennings (1983).

Presley Norton et al.,"Excavaciones en Salango, provincia de Manabí, Ecuador," in Miscelánea antropológica ecuatoriana 3 (1983): 9-80.

Additional Bibliography

Cummins, Thomas B.F., Julio Burgos Cabrera, and Carlos Mora Hoyos. Huellas del pasado: Los sellos de jama-coaque. Quito: Museos del Banco Central del Ecuador, 1996.

Currie, Elizabeth J. Prehistory of the Southern Manabí Coast, Ecuador: López Viejo. Oxford: Tempvs Reparatvm, 1995.

Marcos, Jorge G. Arqueología de la costa ecuatoriana: Nuevos enfoques. Quito: Corporación Editora Nacional; Guayaquil, Ecuador: Escuela Politécnica del Litoral, Centro de Estudios Arqueológicos y Antropologicos, 1986.

Pearsall, Deborah M. Plants and People in Ancient Ecuador: The Ethnobotany of the Jama River Valley. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2004.

Raymond, J. Scott, Richard L. Burger, and Jeffrey Quilter, eds. Archaeology of Formative Ecuador: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 7 and 8 October 1995. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2003.

Reitz, Elizabeth Jean, and Maria A. Masucci. Guangala Fishers and Farmers: A Case Study of Animal Use at El Azúcar, Southwestern Ecuador. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, Department of Anthropology; Quito: Libri Mundi, 2004.

Zeidler, James A., and Deborah M. Pearsall. Regional Archaeology in Northern Manabí, Ecuador. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, Dept. of Anthropology, 1994.

                                        James A. Zeidler

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A state in Northeastern Brazil, Bahia has an area of 216,612 square miles. The population of 13,950,146 million (2006) is 67 percent mulatto, 27 percent white, and 11 percent black. The capital city is Salvador.

The Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay), discovered by Amerigo Vespucci in 1501, gave its name to the state. The Portuguese launched a plan to colonize Bahia in 1530. The main product was sugarcane, cultivated in the fertile soil of the Recôn-cavo, the region surrounding the bay. Cotton and tobacco were also grown, the latter a valuable item in the slave trade. The expansion of cattle raising led to the occupation of the interior of the state. The educational and cultural life of the colony was organized primarily by the Jesuits, who also worked on the conversion of the Indians to Christianity.

In spite of the Dutch invasion (1623–1624), the seventeenth century was the apogee of colonial life in Bahia, thanks to the expanding production of both sugar and tobacco, which responded to the higher demands in the European and African markets, respectively. The social structure was hierarchical, oligarchic, and repressive. Administrative positions were filled by whites, with the slaves brought from Africa constituting the labor force. Indian labor was used mostly in cattle raising in the interior. Salvador was the most important city of the colony until the second decade of the nineteenth century, when the coffee industry vaulted Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to paramount importance.

Due to strong resistance by the Portuguese, Bahia did not gain its independence (1823) until one year after the rest of the country did. Even though many baianos occupied prominent positions in the national administration, Bahia became a second-class province during the empire (1822–1889), primarily because of the declining importance of its exports. Economic stagnation lasted until 1907, when cacao, cultivated in the southern part of the state, became the major export.

The coming to power of Governor José Joaquim Seabra (1912), with his politics of national salvation aimed at ending the powerful oligarchies in the country, typified the ascension of sectors of the urban middle class to positions of command. The sugar barons, dominant in the earlier period, had lost both the economic power and the political influence that they had previously enjoyed. The administrative decentralization of the empire was replaced by centralized governments in the republic, which aimed to integrate a fragmented country.

Oligarchic and conservative, the government of Bahia opposed the Revolution of 1930. The political movement, however, stirred up popular demonstrations. The depression of the 1930s was extremely severe in the state, due to its heavy dependence on cacao exports, which fell drastically. Social instability and strike attempts were curbed by strong state repression. Bahia was then governed by Juraci Magalhães who, influenced by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, launched a small-scale program of public works and succeeded in enhancing the economic situation of the state.

The Estado Novo (1937–1945) of Getúlio Vargas installed a dictatorial government under which the states were ruled by intervenors appointed by Vargas. Otávio Mangabeira, who served as governor from 1947 to 1951, is considered the most outstanding political figure in the state after Rui Barbosa.

Agriculture and commerce remain the main activities of the state. After the creation of the Industrial Park of Aratu during the 1970s, however, Bahia became the industrial leader in the Northeast, although its capital-intensive industries have not created much local employment. Given Bahia's attractive beaches, more attention is being paid to the development of tourism.

Culturally, Bahia is known for its lasting influence from slave times. The Yoruba religious system of Candomblé as well as the martial art of Capoeira are distinguishing components of this region. In addition, it is the birthplace of some of Brazil's most famous artists and thinkers, including João Gilberto, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Luiz R. B. Mott.

See alsoGuangala .


Azevedo, Thales de. Povoamento da cidade do Salvador, 3rd edition. Salvador: Editora Itapuã, 1969.

Costa, Ana Alice Alcantara. As donas no poder: Mulher e política na Bahia. Salvador, Brazil: Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre a Mulher, FFCH/UFBA, 1998.

Kraay, Hendrik. Afro-Brazilian Culture and Politics: Bahia, 1790s to 1990s. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998.

Mattoso, Katia M. De Queirós. Bahia, século XIX: Uma provinia no Império, 2nd edition. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira,1992.

McGowan, Chris. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

Novais Sampaio, Consuelo. "Crisis in the Brazilian Oligarchical System: A Case Study on Bahia, 1889–1937." Ph.D. diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1979.

Reis, João José. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia, trans. Arthur Brakel. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

Russell-Wood, A. J. R. Fidalgos and Philanthropists: The Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Bahia, 1550–1755. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

                              Consuelo Novais Sampaio

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Bahia Coastal state in e Brazil; the capital is Salvador. Portuguese explorers reached Bahia in 1501. Declared a province in 1823, it achieved statehood in 1889. Products: cacao, tobacco, hardwood, natural gas, lead, asbestos, hydroelectricity. Area: 561,026sq km (216,612sq mi). Pop. (2000) 13,066,764.

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Bahia (bäē´yə), state (1991 pop. 11,867,991), 216,612 sq mi (559,921 sq km), E Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean. Salvador (also called Bahia) is the capital.

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Bahia, city, Brazil: see Salvador, Brazil.