Boi-Bumba Festival

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Boi-Bumbá Festival

***** Location: Northern Brazil
***** Season: Dry Season (Winter)
***** Category: Observance


Boi-Bumbá Festival

In Amazonas, the boi-bumbá festival, as it is commonly known, is traditionally held during June. It specifically involves the figure of two rival bulls, called Caprichoso (Capricious, believed to have been created in 1913 by Lindolfo Monteverde), and Garantido (Guaranteed, believed to have been created in 1914 by José Furtado Belém and Emídio Rodrigues Vieira), identified by blue details (especially a star on its forehead) over black and red details (especially a heart on its forehead) over white, respectively.

These bulls excite thousands of admirers when they compete against each other for the best performance of their ritual presentations during the programmed parades. In carnival style, these presentations mix dance with the sound of effervescent music known as "toadas" (tunes), accompanied by allegories that add refinement to the show. Both bulls are reproduced bigger than their natural size, using fabric to cover their frames, while their movements are provided by a man with appropriate physical heft and fitness to ''wear'' the bull and make it dance during the whole show.

Bull festivals are quite common in several parts of Brazil. This tradition was brought to Amazonia by immigrants from northeastern Brazil, who came in search of rubber and its fantastic profits at the end of XIX century. The boi-bumbá legend can be told in several ways, but the most common involves two characters. The slave Catirina, who is pregnant, wants to eat the tongue of the most beautiful bull on the farm, that was the pride of its owner. She asks her husband, Pai Francisco, to kill the bull and bring its tongue to satisfy her desire. He attends the woman's request and is arrested by owner, who, with the healer's help tries to resuscitate the bull. Fortunately, the bull is revived, and everybody celebrates the event with parties. Today, each boi-bumbá festival tells this history with different nuances, enriched with other characters and tales.

Festivity in Parintins

It is in the city of Parintins, Amazonas, 420 km east of Manaus, that the bull festival became best known, because the region was one of the first to adopt large scale cattle production. When Caprichoso and Garantido compete they gather more than 50 thousand people, between locals and tourists. Their presentations last three days, usually the last three days of the month, and they are held in the "bumbódromo", a word where ´bumbá´ replaces "samba" in "sambódromo" from Rio de Janeiro´s carnival. The "bumbódromo" is a wide arena flanked by bleachers, private boxes and stands for the visitors, organizers and reporters, who arrive from across the country, especially Manaus; large numbers of river boats bring thousands from central Amazonia. This is because Parintins is on "Tupinambarana Isle", so named because it was populated by Tupinamba indians when it was discovered. It is necessary to guarantee tickets well in advance because of the festivity's popularity.

Although the groups competed locally, professional competition between Caprichoso and Garantido only began in 1966. In the past the competition was a simple traditional festivity and restricted to a small area, like a corral. Today it is a mega-event similar in quality to the carnival in Rio de Janeiro. So much exuberance, allied to the sponsorship of major companies, turned the boi-bumbá from Parintins into a nationally known folkloric manifestation of Northern Brazil.

Rosa Clement
April 2008


Boi-Bumbá Festival / further reference

CLICK for more photos

The Amazonian Ox Dance Festival:
An Anthropological Account

The analysis of this festival raises wide-ranging questions concerning the study of folklore and popular culture. In the Ox Dance's recent development, the Brazilian national media, the culture industry, tourism, government agencies, and different social groups have all participated in an expansion that, until now, has managed to preserve strong traditional characteristics.

Read the article HERE
© Maria-Laura Cavalcanti
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Worldwide use

Bull Festivals

Things found on the way


foreigners´ footprints dry
in the muddy path

Rosa Clement
Manaus, April 2008

Related words

***** Bull Festivals

***** Brazil Saijiki


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1 comment:

Visit Brazil said...

Boi Bumbá is indeed a wonderful folkloric festival! Take a look at this video and pictures of past editions: http://migre.me/MZhF http://migre.me/MZEp