The tangibility of the intangible: ringing bells and cities
ABSTRACT This article aims to contribute to the reflection about the bells and their materiality. Around the object, there is a system that involves aspects of its confection - casting and tuning -, its uses as a liturgical and civil instrument, as well as practices and representations about this cultural asset, whose functions are no longer essential for life in contemporary society. Thus, we make use of national and foreign bibliography on the theme. By presenting different aspects of the materiality of bells, we seek to shed light on the need for further research on the different mechanical trades in colonial towns and cities and on the development of archaeological studies on bell casting in Brazil. Attention is also drawn to the documentation regarding the subject held in the archives of the brotherhoods in different Brazilian cities. Finally, this article seeks to highlight, with the baptism or blessing of the bells, some uses, practices, and representations of the “bronzes.” These elements helped us to identify some answers, even if provisional, about the maintenance of social practices around the bells, giving the groups that cultivate them a sense of belonging to the community besides offering a content to human experiences with time.