August 19, 2006
Bumba Meu Boi
Since my first visit to Maranhao, I had heard alot about the Bumba Meu Boi celebrations in that region. On this last visit, I had the opportunity to see a couple of them up close, and to learn alot more about them.
I learned, for example, that there are several sotaques (accents, or versions) of the dance. Some show a more African influence (Boi de Matraca), some are more native Brazilian in character (Boi de Índio), while some have decidedly European traits (Boi de Orquestra).
All of them, however, represent in some form or another the story of a slave (Sr. Chico) and his pregnant wife (Catarina)--who suddenly has a craving for the tongue of a bull. Sr. Chico, in order to please his wife, tries to get the tongue from the prize bull of his master. The master finds out about it, and tells Chico that if he does not bring the bull back alive, he will kill him. Chico then seeks the help of an indian chief to heal the bull.
This story is acted out in various ways over several weeks. The lyrics of the songs that accompany the actions can include anything from culture to current events to politics.
There are two strong undercurrents which are evident in all the celebrations: Roman Catholicism and Spiritism. Here in Brazil, these two currents are often found together in syncretistic harmony.
In the above video, we see excerpts from two performances of Boi de Matraca (one is a neighborhood celebration, and the other is a more professional performance), and one of Boi de Índio. In between, there are a couple excerps showing highlighting individual performers and their costumes.
I am told the Boi de Orquestra is the best, but I did not get a chance to see it.
If you have trouble seeing this video, you can try the youtube version.
Posted by Andrew on August 19, 2006 9:51 AM.