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    Festival History-Carnival History of Brazil

    Posted on 08 April 2016

    On this section you will see photos, two rare carnival videos, and the chronology of events of this historic and unique Brazilian festival.  The description of the Brazilian Carnival origins and history is not an easy task, even for us Brazilians.  The main reasons for this observation are twofold: first, the Carnaval was not formally defined until the 20th century.  The big question was what exactly could be considered a true activity or expression of the Brazilian Carnival, (and not for example a European or African ritual).   What was the Carnival of Brazil composed of?  Which popular events and rituals could be classified or minimally labeled as part of our Carnaval.

    Below, a 1963 video of Brazilian Carnival parade already in color.  At this time, samba-schools and the main parade itself started to gain popularity and followers.  Many people, even Brazilians, don´t know that until 1940´s most of the Carnival activities and events happened outside the "parade limits".  Please see below second carnival videos to see early 20th century Carnaval´s expressions.

    Here we see one of the first Warnercolor Documentaries on Rio Carnival, in English, around the 50´s.

    The second reason naturally derives from the first one. Historians who have described Brazil´s early days, simply couldn´t associate at the time, those events to which we today identify as part of the Brazilian Carnaval.  To make this easier, Brazil Carnival Ooah! will chronologically list episodes and events which contributed to the organization of the Brazilian Carnival as we know today.   We hope you will have fun in this reading as we did during our research!

    Below, one of the first depictions about the Brazilian Carnival made by a famous painting in Brazil, Debret.

    O entrudo no Rio de Janeiro, 1823
    Jean-Baptiste Debret ( França 1768-1848)
    Aquarela sobre papel
    Museu da Chácara do Céu
    Rio de Janeiro

    Brazil Carnival Chronology

    1600    For the first time, a playful popular party is registered in Brazil, with the development of the Entrudo, imported from Portugal.  In this violent, rough, yet playful activity, foliões (name given to people who have fun during carnival days) threw water and lemon at each other using buckets, barrels and cans.  Some more fanatics threw stones and wastes…! 

    1604    Due to the aggressive manner the foliões were having fun, the local government decided to prohibit the Entrudo for the first time.

    1608    After 1605, several groups insisted on going out to streets “playing” at the Entrudo. Again, the government disallowed these manifestations.

    1641 D. João IV’s coronation to Portugal´s throne celebrated in Rio de Janeiro.  The préstitos, a type of musical procession go to public streets.  According to historians, this was considered the first carnival expression in Rio de Janeiro.  Thus, many Carnaval scholars consider the year of 1641 the starting point for Brazilian Carnival.

    1680    Entrudo partying is once again prohibited by authorities.

    1689    For the first time in Rio do Janeiro, police forces make illegal masquerades and hooded people on the streets.

    1691    Once again, Entrudo was banned although it could still be seen in Rio de Janeiro streets.

    1700    A new governmental decree prohibits hooded and the masquerades in Rio de Janeiro.

    1711    A masquerade group killed Francisco Duclerc, French Commander who was living in Rio de Janeiro after a failed invasion attempt in Brazil.  He was killed in one of the most important streets in town: Quitanda Street.

    1720    Martinho Vieira, commonly referred to as the “hated magistrate” in Brazil, was killed by a group of carnival fans at Morro Velho – Old Mount in Rio de Janeiro.

    1734    Once again, local authorities ban the Entrudo partying. The main reason continued to be its violent character.

    1748    The Folia Negra da Coroação dos Reis do Congo (Black Festival of Congo’s King Crowning Ceremony), performed at Rosario and Saint Benedict Fraternity, established and now officially recognized as typical festivity.  Congos and Cocumbis originated thereof.

    1763    A festival celebrating the birth of D. José, (D. Maria’s first son), was performed, presenting floats (carros alegóricos) at the parade.

    1786     Celebrations in homage of D. João and Dª. Carlota’s wedding in Lisbon, lasted for the first time for 3 consecutive days, in Rio de Janeiro.  At this commemoration, “parade type” processions were organized with music, dances and different kinds of floats. These first parades were called préstitos. These specific parades could be considered the true origin, inception of modern day carnival parades in Rio Janeiro. Merry makers marched in festivity for hours, from city´s center all the way to the old Gipsy Park (today Santana Park).  The floats were designed and crafted by an army Lieutenant called Antonio Francisco Soares.

    1790    During the pre-Lent days in Rio do Janeiro, a group of people started to practice “Serração da Velha” (a playful activity and expression where people literally saw a doll, representing rejuvenation and renovation).   Some considered this event the beginning of carnival due to its music and dance, but most of all, because of the period when it was organized.

    1800    Religious processions grew in size and popularity and became regular festivals. The most representative ones, marched through Rio do Janeiro´s streets with carnival personas and performances.

    1808     New Vice-King decree prohibits the Entrudo manifestations in Rio.

    1810    Again, a new law forbade the Entrudo, even though police force was used to curb these events.

    1816    Ferdinand Denis, famous traveler, historian and French writer specialized in Brazil, writes a full Opera during carnival based on the Entrudo theme.

    -    In Rio de Janeiro, Frenchmen Debret (painter), Taunay (painter) and Grandjean de Montigny (architect) arrive in Brazil in a French mission to spread European art. Brazil was still a Portuguese colony, but soon to become independent in 1822.

    1825    Balls given by traditional families like Carneiro Leão’s and Baron of Rio Seco’s become extremely coveted and well known.

    1831    Brazilian newspapers announce once again Entrudos as a main popular entertainment.

    1834    First carnival masks are sold at Ouvidor Street shops.

    1836    Before the Lent period, several shops begin to market carnival masks and costumes for the upcoming carnaval celebrations.

    1840    Singing and Jongo (African derived type of dance) start to be performed in Rio de Janeiro.  In fancy carnival celebrations, the use of carnival costumes and masks substitute the rough Entrudo activity.

        - In a famous hotel in Rio called Hotel Itália, the first carnival ball for the general public is performed. The music played on this event was the waltz, habanera, quadrille, and the schottische.

    1845    The ‘polka’ is introduced in Rio de Janeiro and played at local ballrooms. The Brazilian Polka Society is created.

    1846    Actress Clara Delmastro organizes a carnival ball in the São Januário Theater in Rio.  Many historians call this event as the first private carnival ball in Brazil.  Masks, costumes and even a supper were provided to the invitees.

    1848    José Nogueira de Azevedo Paredes, a common Portuguese shoemaker, walks off Rio de Janeiro streets with a bass drum and creates a fictional character called “Zé Pereira”. 

    Some historians affirm this carnival manifestation gave origin to blocos de rua (street groups), since many people “would follow” Zé Pereira; wherever he was.

    Below, a Brazilian Carnival  video edited in "Black and White" photos!!


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