The Art of Carnival: Maracatu
Maracatu has its origins in the old institutions of the Black Kings, well known in France and Spain as early as the 15th Century and in Portugal from the 16th Century. In Pernambuco, explorers were already documenting the presence of the Black Kings as early as 1666. Documents on the history of slavery dating from 1674 can be found at the church of Our Lady of the Black Men’s Rosary, Saint Antônio, Recife. They recount coronations in the Congo and Angola.
The various Maracatu groups each represent “Nations” of Africa. The most famous include Elephant Nation (1800), Crowned Lion Nation (1863), Shinning Star Nation (1910), Indian Nation (1949), Porto Rico Nation (1915) and the Camninda Star Nation (1953). Each group preserves the African traditions of their ancestors.
The assembly of each Maracatu Nation usually comprises a deep bass drum, a tarol (a kind of trombone), two war drums and nine bongos. Sometimes a ganzá (large maraca) is also included. A musical climax is followed by a single beat, increasing violently with each new beat. The queen is group leader, and her first whistle blow indicates the music is coming to a stop. The second whistle signifies the complete stop which is executed with careful precision by the whole group.
This gallery illustrates some fo the characters and characteristics of Maracatu.
Dupla de caboclos de lança mostra toda a sua exuberância, originally uploaded by Prefeitura de Olinda.