Inventory no.: 1005

Brazilian silver balanganda


Silver Balanganda


19th century

length: 26cm (approx.), height: 26cm (approx.), weight: 676g

This silver balanganda votive set comprises a silver ring-like structure with serrations and a turning key at one end to allow the ring to open so that more items can be suspended, plus eight fruits and associated leaves fabricated from sheet silver, including two pomegranates only one of which has split to reveal the seeds inside, and a cocoa pod (theobroma cacao – the seeds of which are used to make chocolate). The ring is of typical form, cast with parrots on either side.Balangada have the most extraordinarily evocative histories: they were worn at the waist by black indentured and slave women during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as amulets. They were worn suspended from a heavy chain that went around the waist, often accompanied by thick silver bracelets, a multitude of heavy silver rings and necklaces.Balangada were made by black silversmiths and according to Castilho (2010) illustrate the coexistence of African superstitions with Christian beliefs in Brazil.


balanganda are illustrated in Taullard (2004).

The silver fruits suspended in this example are unusually large. The set has a fine patina with obvious age.


UK art market.


Taullard, A., Plateria Sudamericana, Ediciones Espuela de Plata, 2004; Castilho, M., ‘Oriente – Ocidente 2’, Lisbon, 2010.

Inventory no.: 1005


A late 19th century photograph of a Brazilian ‘slave’ woman wearing a silver balanganda at her waist.

Harvesting cocoa pods.

Click on the video to get a better idea of the relative size of this item.