Tag Archives: Salvador

Mestre Moraes

moraes

Now, as we have heard a lot about the old mestres, both dead and alive ones. After these I want to focus on some masters of the younger generations. When Mestre Pastinha, the Velha Guarda and the Joao’s were responsible for Capoeira Angola’s survival, then the younger mestres (and many more) were responsible for Capoeira Angola’s worldwide success since the 1980’s. One of the first names I have to mention here is Mestre Moraes.

The person

Mestre Moraes was born as Pedro Martinez Trindade in Ilha de Maré on the 9th of February, 1950. His father, who is nowadays blind, was a Capoeirista himself and did introduce him to Capoeira at the age of 7. He started to learn Capoeira Angola in Mestre Pastinha’s academy, but back then Mestre Pastinha was already getting blind and his students, Mestre Joao Grande and Mestre Joao Pequeno, were running the school. In 1970 he joined the marines and was sent to Rio de Janeiro. There he started training some students which are nowadays known as masters, like Mestre Braga and Mestre Cobra Mansa. In 1980 he founded the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho, one of today’s most known Capoeira Angola groups. When he came back to Salvador in 1982, he did notice that Capoeira Angola was almost extinct, the old mestres losing ground against the new elite of modern Capoeiristas. So he started organising rodas and trainings and did fight for the recognition of Capoeira Angola as the traditional art form underlying Capoeira. In the mid-80’s he and his Contra-Mestre Cobra Mansa were able to convice Mestre Joao Grande to get back to Capoeira Angola, with which they managed to bring back some heavy history into Capoeira. Today, GCAP does still exist and is one of the most traditional schhols of Capoeira Angola. Mestre Moraes himself did study English and does work as a teacher of English and Portuguese at a public school – alongside him being the Mestre of GCAP of course.

Embranquecimento

moraesde25

Everybody who knows a bit about the modern history of Capoeira Angola knows that Mestre Moraes did have a major in the resurrection of Capoeira Angola in the 1980’s. But, most people consider the person Mestre Moraes as being a bit difficult at best, outright annoying and racist at worst. Now how did this happen? First of all, Mestre Moraes is a guy who doesnt shut up when others would. He also does talk out when nobody wants him to. For him, this is his way to express what he considers to be important for Capoeira. That it doesnt get ripped of its African roots, that it doesnt turn into a sport practised by anyone without recognizing the blood and sweat people went through because they practised African rituals on Brazilian soil. One of the main points of his critics is that since Mestre Bimba’s introduction of “Capoeira Regional” Capoeira did undergo several changes in its perception and philosophy. As it got accepted in Brazilian society and also promoted as “the only true Brazilian national sport”, people started to introduce all kinds of novelties into Capoeira. I will name only a few: a cord system, Capoeira competitions and the reglementation of Capoeira in the National Boxing Federation. Today one word does express these changes: “whitening” of capoeira, or the Portuguese word “embranquecimento”. But the worst thing was not what they did introduce, but what was being neglected and oppressed in those times. That was the traditional Capoeira, the old mestres, the street rodas and the Afrobrazilian rituals in Capoeira Angola. Besides being neglected, during the times of the dictatorship, traditional street rodas were disrupted by the police. Everything which wasnt suiting the state’s policy was oppressed. Dictatorship went on in Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Thus, exactly the time when Capoeira Regional grew in extremo and Capoeira Angola shrinked to almost extinction.

African Movements

By the end of the dictatorship Mestre Moraes arrived in Salvador and saw everything being on the downslope. Now I dont know him personally and in those times when he was struggling with “the establishment” I was just being born. But I doubt that Capoeira Angola today would have been so strong if Mestre Moraes would just have sit back and opened up a small Capoeira Angola school in the Pelourinho neighborhood. His radical commitment to Afrobrazilian culture and the African values of traditional Capoeira was possibly the only response to the mainstream back then, which had a chance to survive. More than this. Capoeira Angola itself was so small back then that it was hardly possible to have its voice being noticed. This is the reason why the Angoleiros around Mestre Moraes established connections to Black Power movements like Ilê Aiyê and Olodum. Since then the connections between GCAP and black movements is pretty strong and pretty much stays like that. Surely, there are legitimate Capoeira Angola groups which are less radical in advocating African traditions in Capoeira Angola, but GCAP does have a strong influence in the whole Capoeira Angola scene – and is not only a legitimate, but also an important part of it. And Mestre Moraes, with all his radicality, is and stays one of the most important Mestres of Capoeira Angola.

And as it is with a lot of mestres, there is much more to tell about Mestre Moraes than his strong opinion about Embranquimento and Africanidade. He is, by the way, known for his excellent music. His first CD is a must in every Capoeiristas CD collection and his CD “brincando na roda” was nominated for the Grammy Award in 2004. In the field of music he did also codify the musical outfit of a Capoeira Angola bateria.

Other than that he is also known for his elaborate philosophy derived out of African spirituality. If you want an example of his philosopy just check the interview translated by Shayna McHugh on her Capoeira Connection site. Plus he is of course a very good player of Capoeira Angola and is known for his dominance in the Roda. And to finish this post, you can watch him play yourself, on the video below.

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Today is Carybé Day

É argentino, é brasileiro, é quichua,

é asteca, é inca, é carioca por bossa

mas baiano por fé.

É amigo do mundo inteiro

menos de quem náo dá pé.

Canta cantigas de Cuzco

da Havana e do Tremenbé.

É um sambista milongueiro

Bate um violáo de terreiro.

E é santo de cadomblé.

–Vincius de Moraes

 

On the 1nd of October 1997 a guy named Hector Julio Paride Bernabó died while attending a Candomblé ceremony in the city of Salvador, Bahia. With his dead Salvador lost one of its big recent artists. Capoeiristas, Brazilians and artists around the world know him more under his name Carybé.

First of all, I have to admit, I am illiterate in terms of art. You cant possibly walk through a museum faster than I do. It’s not a lack of interest, I am usually not even aware of arts – as long as it is not Capoeira-related. So you can guess now why this guy fills a whole post in this blog? Well, because this guy had a unique ability to capture the beauty of Salvador, of Afrobrazilian culture and, of all, of Capoeira (Angola) in his pictures. I had one of his pictures on my shirts before I knew who this guy was. And as such, and as it is now 11 years ago that he died, I thought it would be great to acknowledge his life and art on this blog!

The person

 

At the 7th of February, 1911 in the city of Lanús a boy named Hector Julio Páride Bernabó was born. Lanús is a city in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentine. In Rio de Janeiro he worked as an errand boy and earned his name Carybé, which is a type of a piranha. When he was 14 he started engaging in artwork in his elder brother’s atelier in Rio and 2 years later he started studying in the Escola National de Belas Artes. After his studies Carybé did work as graphic artist for different journals and eventually visited Salvador for the first time. This was in the year of 1938. Only after many other travels and jobs he had, visiting all over South America, he was invited to stay in Bahia in the year 1950. And there he stayed till his death in the year of 1997. Here he produced his greatest artworks, like As Três Mulheres da Xângo and worked together with great contemporary artists like Pierre Verger or Jorge Amado. But Carybé was not only a famous artist, but he was also an Oba de Xângo, a Candomblé priest till his very end. At the 1st of October 1997 he died during a ceremony.

His art

 

Carybé was priest, painter, graphics artist and sculptor. His most known artswork does picture Afrobrazilian culture as he has seen it in his 47 years of Salvador, Bahia – and thus, is one of the most valuable sources of information on life in late 20 centuries Bahia. Of special mentioning are his pictures about Candomblé and of Orixás, which does leave us insight into a culture most non-Candomblistas won’t see much (especially us Gringos who are not even living in Bahia, let alone in Brazil!). Beautiful examples are his sculptures of Orixás, like the one of Oxun you see below.

 Capoeira

Carybé did also visit Rodas de Capoeira Angola, like Mestre Waldemar’s Roda in the Liberdade neighbourhood. Here he was in the 60’s and made his drawings, which are nowadays known in the whole Capoeira Community. I have seen a lot of them without noticing that it was actually Carybé. But next time one of you sees one of these pictures, or one which does look alike, maybe you will remember one of the few artists who was able to capture Capoeira’s beauty with only a few lines on paper. And now I will leave you alone with a couple of Carybé’s Capoeira pictures. Sit back and enjoy!

 

So, that’s it. No, it’s for sure not all the artwork you can find of Carybé. On the site of Capoeira-Info.org you can also read and see one of his booklets “A jogo da capoeira” with many beautiful drawings of Capoeira. Carybé was extremely active and I leave it to you people to look further and jump into this tiny, but strong, bits of Afrobrazilian culture Carybé is presenting us with his artwork.

 

In memoriam:

Carybé, 1911-1997

 

Sources:

Wikipedia

http://www.pinturabrasileira.com/artistas_bio.asp?cod=81&in=1 (Portuguese)

 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6415/carybe_opener2.html

http://capoeira-infos.org

Pictures:

www.artenet.com.br

www.macacocapoeira.free.fr

www.uniflorgta.edu.br

www.vitorbraga.com.br

www.nzinga.org.br

http://musibrasil.net

www.gruposenzala.com

www.pitoresco.com.br

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