Build your Own Archive: The "Velha Guarda" According to Rego

“Capoiera Angola - Ensaio Sócio Etnografico” written by Brazilian ethnologist Waldeloir Rego and published in 1968 is one of the seminal studies regarding the art form and one of the most important documents that exists today about capoeira.

The book is packed with a lot of information about capoeira, including the history of capoeira, the origin of the word and basics about the instruments played, but perhaps most interesting to us capoeiristas is the long compilation of songs and the following discussion about the capoeiristas mentioned in each song, from the chapter “Famous Capoeiras and their Behaviour in the Social Community".

We've already published his writings about Mestre Joao Grande
. Here is what Rego had to say about some other capoeiras of the time:
Pedro Mineiro was well-known among the capoeiristas… Also making a name in Bahia were Chico da Barra, Ajé, Chico Cazumbá, Ricardo das Docas, Antônio Maré, Zé Bom Pé, Vitorino Braço Torto, Raimundo Cachoeira, Zacaria Grande, Nôzinho, Bilusca, Piroca Peixoto, Zé do Saco, Samual da Calçada, Sete Mortes, Aberrê, Patu das Pedreiras, Hilário Chapeleiro, Cassiano Balão, Bigode de Sêda, Doze Homens, Tiburcinho de Jaguaripe, Zeca Cidade de Palha, Nô da Emprêsa de Carruagem, Pacífico do Rio Vermelho, Bichiguinha, Chico Me Dá, Edgar Chicharro, Inimigo Sem Tripa, Giote, Neco Canário Pardo, Bôca de Porco, Dendê, Gazolina, Espinho, Dadá e Siri de Mangue.

Pedro Porreta became a synonymous with disorder and bullying. When I was a young boy, I heard many older people speak of this capoeira and when a child was difficult and liked to beat up the other children, they would reprimand him by asking whether he was Pedro Porreta.

Canjiquinha (Wasington Bruno da Silva) told me that Chico Três was an enemy of another capoeirista called Matatu. One day, he set a trap for his enemy. He hid around the corner of Rua do Engenho Velho, right at the entrance for those who were going to Boa Vista mansion, today known as the São João de Deus asylum, and when Matatu approached, distracted, he stabbed him in the chest, put the knife hit his clavicle, breaking it into three pieces. Matuto escaped death and the other became known as Chico Três Pedaços.

Najé was another famous capoeirista from Coqueiro de Paraguaçu, but because he liked to go the city of Najé, this became his knickname. He was also close with people who practiced candomblé, so much so that when they saw him they used to joke, singing:

Najé, Najé
Ogun Já orô!

This song relates to Ogun Já, an aspect of Ogun whose principle characteristic is the sacrifice of dogs, a rare practice, whose processes and songs differ from the rest, although here I do not have the space to go into further detail.
How did the people in your group get their knicknames? Hopefully in a less dramatic and painful way than Chico Três Pedaços.

This book is actually out-of-print and very difficult to find. There are some downloadable versions out there. If you do come across a hardcover copy, protect it with all your pieces, as it is an important part of our heritage.

We'll present more about the "velha guarda" of capoeira from this great book in the future.

No comments: