This candomblé rhythm comes from the Ketu and Ijesha nations, and was played for the orishas Oxum and Logun-Edé, and later for Exu, Ossaim, Ogum, Oyá, Obá, Oxalá and Orunmilá.
Ijexá is played in terreiros (places of candomblé worship) and is only played with the hands, without the need to use aguidavis (a special type of drumstick). This smooth, paced rhythm serves as a framework for Oxum and Logun-Edé's charming and sensual dance. The gã ( agogô) accompanies the atabaques, marking the tempo.
Due to the strong presence of candomblé in Bahia, ijexá made its way into Carnival through the creation of Bahian afoxés toward the end of the nineteenth century. Therefore, this musical procession is often confused with the rhythm itself: afoxé is the procession, whereas ijexá is the rhythm that goes along with that procession.
The term comes from the Yoruba word àfose, which means enchanted by sound. This meaning must have led to another use of the same name, because xequerês, gourds covered with a net of beads with a rattling effect, ended up being called afoxés.
Afoxé is a street parade that traditionally goes on during Carnival in Salvador, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro. It looks like a Carnival group, but, according to anthropologist Raul Lody, it is a "street candomblé". It is characterized by clothing with the colors of Oxalá, songs in the Yoruba language, and the use of percussion instruments from candomblé: atabaques, agogôs and xequerês.
The Filhos de Gandhi afoxé, for example, was founded in Bahia by the candomblé ogãns in 1940. Today, the group performs at the Salvador Carnival to the sound of the ijexá, beginning its procession with the famous "padê de Exu", an offering made to the orisha, who opens or closes all roads. The rhythm of this street dance and the melody sung to go along with it are the same ones used in terreiros. Songs are led by a standout solo singer and then repeated by everyone in the group, including the instrumentalists.
In popular music, this rhythm became well known via recordings and compositions by artists such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gerônimo, Vevé Calazans and Clara Nunes, among others.