The Augustinian convent of St. Monica in Goa was the only nunnery created from scratch in the "Estado da Índia". In this essay I would like to mention some episodes that involved the construction of the convent as the cause of politic and religious tension, setting the convent and its community under severe public scrutiny in which artistic images, ritual performances, and words (proclaimed as well as printed) were used in the complex chess game played in Goa. Focusing on events that occurred in the first four decades of the seventeenth century inside the walls of the convent and on contemporary descriptions of artistic images, I will lay stress upon the importance of such objects in the planning of political and religious agenda of the Augustinian Order in the Portuguese Asian Empire.I wish to address issues as simulacrum, circulation of shapes and objects, colonial power, gender, staging of the sacred and the use of artistic objects to convey propaganda image of the Order in India.
Images have always played a vital role in political communication and in the visualization of power structures and hierarchies. They gain even more importance in situations where non-verbal communication prevails: In the negotiation processes between two (or more) different cultures, the language of the visual is often thought of as the most effective way to acquaint (and overpower) the others with one’s own principles, beliefs, and value systems. Scores of these asymmetrical exchange situations have taken place in the Portuguese overseas empire since its gradual expansion in the 16th century.
This book offers new insights into the broad and differentiated spectrum of functions images could assume in political contexts in those areas dominated by the Portuguese in early modern times. How were objects and artifacts staged and handled to generate new layers of meaning and visualize political ideas and concepts? And what were the respective reasons, means, and effects of the visualization of Portuguese power and politics?