7787 - On Holy Cards : the sacred image in the era of technical reproducibility.

Holy cards, or prayer cards, are small rectangular pieces of paper with a picture of a saint (or several saints) on one side and text on the other: the latter combines prayers and instructions for correct use of the card, details of the saint’s life, advertising for the printing house that made the card, and so on. In this paper I intend to explore various forms of interaction (religious and otherwise) involving this text-image composite, including those observed during my field research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a discussion of the symbology frequently associated with the cards, based on an interpretation of both the words and the images.

Keywords: Anthropology of Religion, Anthropology and Objects, religion and objects, popular culture, sacred images

Author: Menezes, Renata (Museu Nacional/UFRJ, Brazil / Brasilien)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575