Afro-Brazilian Art Form Par Excellence

 Salvador da Bahia, Capoeira
Capoeira in Salvador da Bahia - © Christian Kniepper/Embratur

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art developed originally by African slaves in Brazil.

Initially, it was a deadly martial art used by the slaves to fight the Portuguese Army. It was their weapon, their symbol of freedom.

In modern times, it incorporates fight, game and dance. A way to build physical, mental and spiritual strength.

Members swing from side to side and hit acrobatic blows using mainly their legs.
Other members surround them in circle while singing accompanied by percussion instruments such as berimbau, agogós and atabaques.

The origins of this particular martial art still remain unclear.
There are those who believe that originated in Africa and was transported along with the slaves when they were brought to Brazil.
In fact, during the history of slave travel, an estimated 4 million slaves arrived from Africa and were distributed in three main ports: Bahia, Recife and Rio de Janeiro.

Others believe that the art form originated amongst the Afro-Brazilians in the "zengalas", lump quarters for the slaves on Brazilian sugar plantations.
For some others instead, it was used to fend off attacks by Portuguese slaves in Palmares, Brazil's most infamous "Quilombo" maroon colony of escaped slaves.

It doesn't seem to be historical evidence to support one or another opinion, however, there is evidence and agreement that this is aesthetically and philosophically an Afro-Brazilian Art form.

Brazil Travel: Salvador da Bahia, Capoeira
Capoeira - © Christian Kniepper/Embratur

Salvador do Bahia is the city where the African cultural influence is most noticeable, through religion, arts, food and many other aspects of daily life.
Capoeira is another symbol deeply rooted in Salvadorians life, and together with afoxé, Folia de Reis, Maculelê, and Samba da Roda, are among the most popular manifestations passed on from generation to generation.

It's performed in the streets, because is there where Salvadorians make their parties, particularly in the period between New Year's eve and Carnival.

Pelourinho, the Old City, the old heart of Salvador is the place of music and Capoeira, the stage for people to preserve its cultural roots and take them to the streets.
Pelourinho means "whipping post".
This is the place where slaves were tortured and sold - whipping of slaves was legal in Brazil until 1835.

The first school - with Government permission - was opened in Brazil in 1937 by Mestre Bimba, one of the most important masters at that time.
In the mid-1970s, masters capoeristas began to emigrate and teach this Art form in United States.
Even though today is practiced all over the world, Bahia remains Capoeira's cradle.

Brazil Travel: Salvador da Bahia, Pelourinho
Pelourinho, Salvador da Bahia - © Christian Kniepper/Embratur

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