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Sítio de Pai Adão / Terreiro de Ilê Obá Ogunté

The Água Fria neighborhood, in the city of Recife, was chosen by Ifatinuké for the construction of the terreiro Ilê Obá Ogunté, one of the main Afro-Brazilian religious houses in Pernambuco, also known as Sítio or Terreiro de Pai Adão.

Sítio de Pai Adão / Terreiro de Ilê Obá Ogunté

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Last update: 17/03/2022

By: Júlia Morim - Consultant Fundação Joaquim Nabuco / Unesco - Social Scientist, Master in Anthropology

The Água Fria neighborhood, in the city of Recife, was chosen by Ifatinuké for the construction of the terreiro Ilê Obá Ogunté, one of the main Afro-Brazilian religious houses in Pernambuco, also known as Sítio or Terreiro de Pai Adão.


Oral history states that Ifatuniké, who went by the name of Inês Joaquina da Costa (Tia Inês) in Brazil, was born in a royal African family, then was brought to Brazil as a slave. After freed, she purchased land in Água Fria, where she structured her terreiro on the last quarter of the 19th century. The first rite performed at the terreiro took place in 1875.


Tia Inês passed away in 1919, and the leadership of the terreiro was assumed by José Quirino, followed by Pai Adão a couple of months after, who was a filho-de-santo and assistant of Tia Inês. Pai Adão allegedly went to Nigeria to study both the Yorubá tradition and language. His leading role at the terreiro and in the Afro-Brazilian religions was of great prominence. Pai Adão traveled through Northeast Brazil to help other houses of worship, and more than seventy years after his death the terreiro is still known by his name. After Pai Adão’s death, in 1936, the succession has been based on consanguinity or religious closeness with the founders of the terreiro. The babalorixá of the house is currently Manoel Papa and the ialorixá is Mãe Luiza.


Located at 1644 Estrada de Água Fria, in the homonymous neighborhood, in Recife, in an area of 4.190 m², the terreiro is the oldest and of the most important Afro-Brazilian shrines of Pernambuco. Of Nagô-Egbá nation, it follows the tradition of the Yorubá people. It is consecrated to Iemanjá, deity of the waters, linked to the city of Recife, intersected by rivers and bordered by the sea.


The Sítio de Pai Adão consist of a main building, two sacred trees and residences. The main building is composed of a chapel dedicated to Santa Inês, some sacred rooms (Peji, Balé, dance hall, indoor and outdoor kitchen and support rooms) and three small residences. These rooms are connected by a terrace. There can also be found ten residences, a large sacred tree at the entrance, a gameleira, and another in the back, an Iroco.


The great symbolic importance of the Iroko, a tree from the mulberry family, is linked to its origin. In one version of its story, the purchase of the land was due to the existence the tree and the fact that during the 1930s and 1940s, time of great police repression against Afro-descendant religions, garments and images of the Orixás were hidden inside its hollow trunk. In another version, Iroko’s seeds were brought from Africa by Tia Inês. The tree is considered a temple where the ancestors, Eguns, are worshiped.


The chapel built by the terreiro’s founder, Tia Inês, contains catholic artifacts, such as saints’ images, along with Xangô, such as symbols, garments, and crockery. The building is currently somewhat a memory space, since it’s diverging with Catholicism.


According to Lody (1993), the terreiro has a strong influence on the neighborhood and city of Recife, integrating, participating and acting in the life of the locals. Located in a region of strong popular culture, it maintains close connection with the Carnival and São João festivities. In addition to serving the community, providing and celebration sites and promoting citizenship actions, the terreiro maintains a relationship with Afro-Brazilian religious houses from other nations, forming a network. It has nineteen affiliated houses in Brazil and abroad, whose babalorixás and ialorixás were initiated in the Terreiro de Pai Adão.


The celebrations promoted by the Terreiro de Pai Adão are open to anyone, including regulars and members of other terreiros. The festivities started on Saturdays and ended on Mondays, however, due to urban violence, they are now being held on Saturdays from 4pm to 11pm, except for the Festa de Iemanjá which starts at night and ends at dawn. Among those events stand out the Festa de Ogum, in April, the Festa de Oxum, in July, and the Festa de Iemanjá, the most important of all, since Iemanjá is the orisha of the house. Additionally, the festivity is the first gift to Iemanjá in the state.


As Raul Lody affirmed in a request for the building to be listed by the government, the Terreiro de Pai Adão is a “a true hub, a catalyst and at the same time an irradiator of African culture” “present in the cultural physiognomy of the city” (LODY, 1993).


In 1985, the Terreiro de Pai Adão was established as a historic site by the Fundação do Patrimônio Artístico e Histórico de Pernambuco (Fundarpe) on the purpose of “recognizing the legitimacy of a traditional culture that until recently had been the object of discrimination and even official persecution” (LODY, 1993).


There is currently an in-progress process so the Ilê Obá Ogunté can be recognized as a historic home by the federal government, a precious place of memory and action for Afro-Brazilians.



Recife, May 20, 2014.

sources consulted

BRANDÃO, Maria do Carmo; MOTTA, Roberto. Adão e Badia: carisma e tradição no xangô de Pernambuco. In: SILVA, Vagner Gonçalves da (Org.). Caminhos da alma: memória afro-brasileira. São Paulo: Summus, 2002. p. 48-87.

IPHAN. Relatório Analítico. Inventário Nacional de Referências Culturais (INRC) do Ilê Obá Ogunté/Sítio de Pai Adão (PE). Recife, 2012. v. 1.

LODY, Raul. Terreiro Obá Ogunté: Seita africana Obaoumin – um estudo sobre a organização do Terreiro, sua importância para o Xangô Pernambucano e para a cidade do Recife. 1993. Mimeo. Não paginado.


how to quote this text

MORIM, Júlia. Sítio De Pai Adão/ Terreiro Ilê Obá Ogunté. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2014. Available at: Accessed on: month day year. (Ex.: Aug. 6 2009.)