•  The Capoeira Game, Carybé 

    "One day, the first book about me was published that was called "Brazilian bay area", that Carybé wrote together with Mário Cravo. From then on I was making my name."

    M Waldemar, 1990


      Caribé's drawings

      Reconcavo collection nr 3

    • Inside the slaveships of the XVI century, the first capoeiristas arrived to Bahia.

      They were the Angola negroes, maybe warriors, players of this fight where the feet and the head have the maximum importance and the hands are left on the second stage. Most efficient fight against the europeans who almost only used the hands in the defence and attack.

      This had to be the principal motive of repression that capoeira suffered in the times of the Masters of the mill, of imperial police and of the republic, but the negroes did not delay in finding a solution: in the same manner that they camuflaged their religion with that of their masters, they camuflaged the capoeira fight with pantomimes, mimics and dances, accompanied by music.

      They formed rodas where the fighters practised to the sound of the mouth-berimbaus and hand-claps. The supervisor passed by, liked the negroes "playing Angola". They found it beautiful. They clapped hands also, and the players continued their pantomimes, threw themselves on the ground, looked from upside down, laughed and danced an exquisite dance of gingas and jumps, or rolled on the ground better than the snakes.

      The Masters and the Mistresses like what they saw.

      The negroes did not loose the opportunity to pratise and when they were pounding corn, they squatted and the corn-stompers hitted in an array of blows accompanied only by their song:

      Break the corn like people.
      Monkey who breaks dendê.

      And two of them undid themselves to the ground, exchanged the feet for the arms or threatened the companion with the head, always laughing, playing, inventing gestures.

    • And so, playing, was grown this very beautiful fighting style in the bahian bay area; legendary names appeared; men who had the closed body against the bullets and white arms and who challenged full platoons of police, men who had dealings with mandinga, powerful amulets; who became forest plants in times of pressure and appeared later in Cachoeira or in Santo Amaro. Men who untangled any trap or siege to kicks of rabo-de-arraia, leg-sweeps and headbutts. Names that stayed in the brave history of capoeira.

      Bahia contributed alot, in the musical part, introducing the pandeiro, caxixi and the réco-réco, substituting the hand-claps; and the stomach-berimbau with steel wire, with a louder voice and more resources than the mouth one.

      They invented songs and made rules to the game that begins with the basis-chula sung by the master:

      Senhorina what do you sell there?
      I sell the rice from Maranhão
      My Master sent me to sell
      In the land of Salomon


      The choir responds:

      ê, ê

      The rooster sang

      ê, ê
      the rooster sang


      ê, ê

    • Starch to strach

      ê, ê
      starch to starch

      Gun to kill

      ê, ê
      gun to kill

      E' dagger-knife

      ê, ê

      Lets go away

      ê, ê
      lets go away

      To the world beyond

      ê, ê
      to the world beyond

      Give the world a turn

      ê, ê
      give the world a turn

      The ones that start to fight, listen to the songs crouching, in front of the berimbaus, maybe praying their "strong prayers" to free themselves from bullets, in an ambush or from knife; they get to the center of the roda turning the body on top of their hands and start to ginga that is at the same time a guard and a dance step.

      The Berimbau is the one that dictates the game. When "São Bento Grande" plays the game is fast, eye-catching. When the rhythm is "Banguela"

    • is "jôgo de dentro", with knife. If it's "Santa Maria" it's a low game, slow, where the Comrades wind themselves like worms on the ground, without touching, falling softly, as if they were of cotton. If it's "São Bento Pequeno" the fight is almost a samba.

      Under the penalty of getting disqualified, the players can only touch the ground with the hands and the feet. The good masters play in white clothes, make a certain distance on the red land of the rodas, turn around in the air over one hand, go through one another in an incredible entanglement of arms and feet and when the stop to play there aren't any stains on the whiteness of their Sunday suit.

      There were and are many masters in Bahia: Pantalona, Zé Doú, Sessenta, Samuel querido de Deus, Zé Quebra Ferro, Gazolina, Bilusca, Chico Porreta, Cazumbá who was a butcher and only cut the beef in a suit and with a pistol on the belt. Besouro, who was a good angola knife-user, but a scarce player, Tibiri de Folha Grossa, Ajé, who was a painter, Betinho, and from the contemporary Pastinha, Onça Preta, Reginaldo, Valdemar, Juvenal and Mestre Bimba, who is like a type of capoeira Fighter, because he introduced modifications to the traditional Angola.

      Many basis-chulas contained deeds and exploits of the masters who had troubadours singing their glories, not with a languid voice of lutes, but with rustic sound of the berimbaus and the hits of caxixi.

      Torpedo-ship Piaui
      Battleship in Bahia
      They killed Pedro Mineiro
      Ay, ay
      Inside the Police quarters



      BERIMBAU – There’s the „mouth-berimbau“ and the „stomach-berimbau“.

      The „mouth-berimbau“ was used by the old „angoleiros“ in Bahia. It’s an arc with a timbó-plant chord, the resonance box is the mouth and the percussion on the chord is made by a knife.

      The stomach-berimbau, that is used today, is a stick of „Pombo“-wood, that keeps a steel wire under tension. The resonance box is a small gourd that is attached to the wire with a string. The hitting-stick makes the sound and the modulations are managed by a penny and with moving the mouth of gourd closer to or farther from the stomach.

      CAXIXI – The right hand, that holds the hitting-stick between the thumb and index finger, also holds the Caxixi, with the middle and ring finger. In this way, every hit of the stick over the chord is accompanied by the dry and natural sound of the Caxixi. This instrument is a small bambu-basket which has Tiquim-plant seeds inside and is closed at the bottm with a piece of gourd.

      RÉCO-RÉCO – It’s a large piece of bambu with incisions crossing it. Over these incisions a piece of wood is passed.

      PANDEIRO – It’s an ordinary pandeiro, it’s arc is made of jenipapo-wood; it has a goat skin and the JINGLES are of tin plates.


      SÃO BENTO GRANDE – fast game.
      SÃO BENTO PEQUENO – capoeira samba.
      BANGUELA – jogo de dentro, with a knife.
      SANTA MARIA – slow game.
      AVE MARIA – capoeira hymn.
      AMAZONAS - middle-paced game.
      IÚNA – ground-game.
      CAVALARIA – Was a warning rhythm for when somebody strange approached to the roda.

    The Capoeira Game

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