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Jaguar Magazine #08

  • Text
  • Salvador
  • Materials
  • Morris
  • Cultural
  • Ahmed
  • Mestre
  • Arts
  • Galway
  • Capoeira
  • Jaguar
In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.

Travel cuts a dramatic

Travel cuts a dramatic path through Atlantic forest, brilliant white sand dunes and elaborate strata of warm pink rock. Road signs warn of donkeys and sloths, but my biggest challenge is to slalom round an army of frogs stuck to the tarmac, attracted by the heat it retains from the day. Some 12 hours from Salvador, gliding by sugar cane and cattle fields, we arrive in União dos Palmares. The town is scrappy but bright. Horse-drawn carts rule the road, and curious eyes follow me from the windows of chalky mint and yellow homes. I’ve arrived just in time to join a procession commemorating the last battle of Palmares. The quilombola settlers, led by their pioneering commander Zumbi, had resisted countless incursions, but in the final assault of 1694 the settlement was decimated. Every year the survivors’ descendants gather here to honour those that fought. They slowly climb four kilometres up Serra da Barriga hill, stopping at various points to dance, drink, share poetry and speeches and, of course, perform capoeira. The tone is celebratory but solemn, too. We walk through the night, everyone dressed in white, ghostly against the dense black sky. The darkness seems to pull us closer together. We end high up on the hill at dawn, at the Memorial We walk through the night, dressed in white, ghostly against the dense black sky Horse power (Above) The XE settles into the pace of life in União dos Palmares (Top) Keeping the spirit of capoeira alive at the historic Memorial Quilombo daughter of Mestre Pequeno, another of Pastinha’s students. She represents the younger generation of teachers but is dedicated to her grandfather’s legacy, proud that he did not discriminate against women in the roda. She struggled as a teenage mother and speaks movingly of how capoeira instilled her with confidence and the sense she could take up some space in the world. These days, she teaches capoeira as a route to equality and an inspiration to fight violence against women. As I leave the city the next morning, the traffic quickly thins. I’m heading further back in time, to União dos Palmares, once home to the largest known slave settlement in the Americas, the fabled Quilombo dos Palmares. Quilombos were settlements of fugitive slaves, and this one had an estimated 30,000 people. I’m hoping it will bring me closer to the earliest origins of capoeira. Stop-light street vendors crowd the car offering windscreen cleaning and jackfruit snacks. I pass countless petrol stations, and police checkpoints are frequent. Soon I reach the Rodovia Estrada do Côco and Linha Verde – the Coconut Highway and Green Line – or the rather less lovely BA-099. The Green Line Quilombo, a kind of living model and museum. It is impressive but sobering. I take time to sit and reflect. A coppery hummingbird, known in Portuguese as a beija-flor or flower-kisser, keeps me company. His more vocal compatriots screech from the trees but otherwise this is a peaceful place – a monument to the unimaginable suffering of Afro-Brazilian’s enslaved ancestors but also to their extraordinary endurance and courage. I’d read that the slave-owners would separate families and tribes to discourage fraternisation. It’s easy to imagine that capoeira was a way for people from very different places to communicate without words, to come together. The people here feel strong ties to their history and see capoeira as a direct link to their forebears. It still serves for many as a potent symbol of resistance, a touchstone against social inequality. There is symmetry in knowing that this once-outlawed art now plays a crucial role in helping young people stay away from criminality. Some want to innovate, some to capitalise, some to honour and preserve. Whatever happens next there is only one thing that is certain about the future of capoeira – it will never stay still. 30 / Jaguar Magazine Jaguar Magazine / 31

 

JAGUAR MAGAZINE

 

Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.

In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.

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