In the year 1624 officials of the Estado da Índia and members of the Society of Jesus jointly organized a reception to honour Francisco Xavier's recent papal canonization, two years earlier. This chapter develops a discourse and materiality of Goa Dourada by contextualizing the eyewitness testimonies of two such ritual participants to this event (one Italian, the other Portuguese), within a larger multitude of European travellers who flocked to Portuguese India, often described as a “Rome in India” throughout the seventeenth century. Given Xavier's historical ties to Goa, one of the many ways in which Portuguese colonial officials reinforced Goa's “goldenness” to its (colonial) subjects, residents, and visitors alike was through the staging of an elaborate celebration, with Xavier’s “miraculous” corpse as its ritual centerpiece, in much the same manner that Goa itself had been “dressed up” for this special occasion.
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?