Portraits in the series, “Guardians of Dahomeyan Deities from Benin to Maranhão [Brazil]” (“Zeladores de Voduns do Benin ao Maranhão”) by Márcio Vasconcelos, 2009-2011. In order from the top: ”Pai Euclides,” “Curador,” “Mãe Elzita,” “Mundica Estrela,” “Irene Moreira,” and an unidentified practitioner. Voduns are spirits of Fon origin venerated in the Brazilian religious formations Tambor da Mina and Jeje Candomblé.
Ethnographer and historian Kelly E. Hayes defines a key term:
Zelador means “caretaker” or “custodian” and typically refers to the caretaker of a building or residence…Spirits are conceptualized as members of one’s family, and like family members, the labor required to maintain harmonious relationships with them involves activities of remembering, caring, feeding, and feting. These activities ensure the continual flow of axé, vital energy or life force, necessary for the well-being of both humans and spirits.