June 25, 2012
Bahia-born writer Jorge Amado (1912-2001) helped project the culture of his native state throughout the world: his books have been published in 60 countries. To fans of Gabriela, cravo e canela (Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, 1958); Tenda dos Milagres (Tent of Miracles, 1969) and other internationally acclaimed masterpieces, Fundação Casa de Jorge Amado in Pelourinho is an essential Salvador attraction. In 2012, the nonprofit NGO is involved in special events celebrating the centennial of the writer's birth.
Though the name of the institution is House of Jorge Amado, the writer never lived at the majestic construction at Largo do Pelourinho, the square that once held the pillory which gives this historical district and Unesco heritage site its name. To visit an attractive house where he lived as a youngster, travelers must go to his native Ilhéus, in Southern Bahia. That house is now Casa de Cultura Jorge Amado.
The construction in Pelourinho had been abandoned when João Jorge, the writer's son, suggested it as the headquarters. The inauguration was in 1987. In an interview posted on the Foundation's website, João Jorge and his mother, writer and photographer Zélia Gattai (1916-2008), who married Amado in 1945 and lived with him until his death, highlight the fact that Jorge Amado wanted the Foundation to be a living center for the diffusion not only of his work, but of Bahian and Brazilian culture.
Zélia Gattai was adamant in wanting the body of her husband's work to be kept in Bahia and instrumental and making that plan a reality, at a time when international institutions were interested in preserving Amado's legacy.
The more Portuguese the visitor can read, the more enriching the tour of the multi-story attraction will be. However, there are some exhibits which transcend words, such as the collection of photographs taken by Zélia Gattai documenting her husband's life through the decades. Some of the personalities in this Who's Who of 20th century culture are Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Astor Piazzolla, Sophia Loren, Sonia Braga, and movie directors Lina Wertmüller and Bruno Barreto.
Jorge Amado became more deeply involved with the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion in his later years and the Foundation reflects that in many ways, starting from the orixá (orisha), or deity, the writer chose to be its guardian. Exu (pronounced e-SHOO), a male orixá associated with communication and intrepid action, is represented by an iron sculpture created by Tati Moreno and which Amado wanted placed by the Foundation's entrance before its inauguration (read more about it under "The Guardian" on the official website).
The Café Theater Zélia Gattai, decorated with dozens of Jorge Amado's book covers and illustrations by Floriano Teixeira, is another great reason to visit the Foundation. The menu includes dishes depicted in Amado's books.
There's also a shop selling t-shirts designed by local artists, books, posters and other souvenirs, with all proceeds reverting to the institution's maintenance.
Look for special events taking place at the Foundation - new exhibits, films, or perhaps capoeira in front of the building, or free live music performances on its front steps.
Through Casa de Palavras, or House of Words, the publishing arm of the Foundation, Exu, a literary magazine, and several other cultural materials have been released.
Fans and researchers can also find a wealth of information pertaining to Jorge Amado's work online. For instance, the full catalogue of his works and several manuscripts have been downloaded.
Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
R$3 (free for children 5 and under). Free admission on Wednesdays.
Address & Contact Information:
Largo do Pelourinho 51
Salvador - BA