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The oldest black sodalities in Salvador were not established until the last decades of the seventeenth century; the intensive influx of slaves from Angola, many of whom shared the same ethnic origins, had not resulted in the immediate formation of lay sodalities.
14) This might have been at least initially a device for the offspring of Angolan-born members to participate in the sodalities with their parents and kinspersons, so that the sodalities might represent the interests of such persons of Angolan descent.
West African slaves started to arrive in Salvador around the end of the seventeenth century and many of them joined in the existent "Angolan" sodalities.
Formation of new black sodalities during the eighteenth century reflected ethnic divisions among West African slaves in Salvador.
As stated earlier, black sodalities did not discriminate against women in their memberships; both women and men held memberships of black sodalities, almost equally.
Black sodalities were not exclusive in their memberships, not only regarding ethnicity and gender but also in terms of race; they allowed and, in fact, even welcomed white and mulatto participants, because of the potential for bequests from their well-to-do members.
Such an ostentatious attitude observed in the white laity's participation in black sodalities was soon adopted by the property-owning African-born ex-slave population.
As has already been well studied, black sodalities chose to be devoted to the cult of specific patron saints often for the purpose of worshiping African gods and goddesses; under the disguise of Catholicism and Christian saints, enslaved African peoples in colonial Brazil attempted to maintain their own religions and to practice African religious rites and customs.
In the name of Catholicism, black sodalities were also relatively free to bury the dead with non-Christian rituals, especially in the case of the black sodality of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Pelourinho, which had an independent church of its own.
Black lay sodalities in Salvador, most of whose members were predominantly enslaved blacks of both sexes, were never exclusive in their memberships in terms of race, ethnicity, or gender.
Then our next question is: when and how did black sodalities in Salvador start to change some of their major characteristics?
Changes: Declining Participation in Sodalities and the Emergence of Free Black Sodalities