The convergence of forces across the country that almost no one knows
A popular Bahian Festival full of meaning that has been rediscovered by tourists
In the dawn of 2 of July in 1823, Salvador city woke up almost deserted: the Portuguese army left in definitive the province of Bahia. They say* the day was beautiful, without the June rains. The sun was shining!
The Bahians know this date as the Independence of Brazil in Bahia, which celebrates the victory of the Brazilians in the war waged in the then province of Bahia, for more than 17 months (February 1822 to July 1823) against the Portuguese troops. With the victory of the Brazilian Army and Navy in Bahia, the political separation of Brazil from Portugal was consolidated.
Thus, based on the studies of Luís Henrique Dias Tavares, historian, professor emeritus of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), the 7 of September 1822 is a symbolic date, not the actual date of Brazil’s independence, especially because a huge part of the country (Northeastern region) was still not independent.
This subject is curious and even controversial for those who are not from Bahia. The fact is that you may have never imagined what happened in the independence war in the Northeast, with very different characteristics from the way Brazil was separated from Portugal.
The 2 of July remained in the patriotic reverence of the Bahians who have since established the tradition of celebrating it annually with the re-entry of the Peacemaker Army in Salvador city. Did you already know this story? So come with us and, even better, schedule yourself to see it live, attending the party!
Different points of view
This article tells the story through explanations of what happens on the city streets during the 2 of July procession. In addition to Luís Henrique Dias Tavares, three interesting people make reports that make us better understand this celebration.
Marisa Vianna, one of the greatest female photographers in Bahia, has been photographing the 2 of July Festivities for almost 20 years. Her great characteristic is to make documentary records in a light and poetic way, giving movement, warmth and feeling to every moment captured by her lens. Her images and stories inspired us to go to the street and really understand what the Independence of Brazil in Bahia is.
“Being able to transmit the feeling is what moves me. Being able to make another person feel the emotion”, tells Marisa Vianna about her almost 40 years of work journey.
With precious information and keen speech, Jaime Nascimento gives a real lesson on the subject. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the Catholic University of Salvador – UCSale associated with the Geographic and Historical Institute of Bahia (IGHB), where he is also Coordinator of Culture and Member of the Editorial Committee.
On the ceremony that takes place in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People, in Pelourinho, Ms. Cosma Pereira de Miranda explains the relation of the Rosary Brotherhood with the party. She is secretary of the Third Order and, for 24 years, she has been Sister of the Rosary. For those who don’t know, this is an Roman Catholic Apostolic brotherhood of African origin.
From the Beginning – The Symbolic Fire and Te Deum ** in the Basilica
The first step is the symbolic fire that represents the union of peoples who fought for independence. The fire is lit on June 30 in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, in Cachoeira, in the Bahian recôncavo. On the same day, the Te Deum is also celebrated for the Independence of Brazil in Bahia, a commendation in Salvador Basilica Cathedral, in Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.
The symbolic fire rite is represented by a flame in a torch that crosses several cities and is passed from hand to hand by amateur athletes, army officers, professional athletes, artists and political leaders to Salvador city in the neighborhood of Pirajá, where a pyre is lit on July 1.
To better understand the history, it was in this church, in Cachoeira, that on June 25, 1822, during the celebration of Te Deum, the gunboat schooner sent by the Portuguese Brigadier Madeira de Melo to close the city’s port fired the first shot against the village, and so the war was unleashed. For this reason, the Symbolic Fire leaves from there.
Salvador city was, in fact, freed by Brazilians, with weapons in their hands, starting in Cachoeira, Santo Amaro, Maragogipe, São Francisco do Conde, Nazaré das Farinhas, Jaguaripe, Saubara, forming an army in tatters. Then they joined the Brazilians who came down from Caetité and other parts of the hinterland and the Chapada.
The History Characters and Symbolic Figures
The 2 of July festivity has always been linked to popular causes. The figures of Maria Quitéria, Joana Angélica, Corneteiro Lopes and João das Botas speak of a very different imaginary from what we have of the independence of Brazil. The battle has generated its heroes, in this case, almost all originating from the population’s poorest sections, and honored until today with affection by the Bahians. They are unforgettable names in this saga that don’t exist in the Brazilian History textbooks and, therefore, are unknown for the majority of Brazilians. Later, the symbolic figures of Caboclo (male) and Cabocla (female) were added. Today they are “the stars” of the procession, going on emblematic cars.
Caboclo and Cabocla represent the army that fought in the war formed by regular and volunteer soldiers, poor white people, Tupinambás, freed black people and enslaved people sent by their masters. Along the way, these two symbolic figures receive flowers, fruit and messages with wishes from people. The famous Bahia expression “Go crying at the caboclo’s feet” came from there.
According to Jaime Nascimento, the first parade in 1824 had only the Caboclo representation, but not the Cabocla. The curious fact is that it was not yet a sculpture, but a mestizo sir (representing the people), carried on one of the cars abandoned by the Portuguese. In 1826, a sculpture of Caboclo was ordered. He was holding a spear, killing the serpent, which represented Portuguese tyranny. The historian goes on to explain the symbology of the characters:
“In 1846, the Province Governor, Soares de Andrea, proposes the replacement of the Caboclo by the Cabocla. It would be the image of Catarina Paraguaçu representing the first Brazilian mestizo family: an indigenous woman that marries the European Diogo Álvares (Caramuru), synthesizing the meeting of the nations. (…) From 1846 on, there have been the two of them, the caboclo and the cabocla”, explains Jaime, satisfying the curiosity of those who didn’t know the details about these symbols. “Over the years, they have become candomblé divinities, more specifically of the Angola nation. They recognize the caboclos first as an entity and second as an ancestor. That’s why they offer them fruit”, he explains.
As for Maria Quitéria, it’s easy to find people dressed up as she along the way, with a beautiful uniform and a gun in their hands. According to Luís Henrique Dias Tavares, she would have left her father’s farm when she heard news of the events of June 25, 1822, in the village of Cachoeira. With men’s clothing, provided by her brother-in-law, she volunteered. Maria Quitéria stood out in the defense of Barra do Paraguaçu, soldier of the Voluntários do Príncipe (Prince Volunteers) battalion.
“Maria Quitéria was recognized by the Brazilian Army as Patron of the Auxiliary Corps of the Brazilian Army for its relevance in the fighting. By determination of the army, it is obligatory to have an image (a portrait or a painting) of Maria Quitéria in all the Brazilian Army barracks”, explains Jaime.
The abbess Sister Joana Angelica became a martyr of independence for standing still in the Lapa Convent cloister door during the invasion attempt of Portuguese soldiers and sailors to the place. Through the streets, it is possible to find references to the religious woman, even in dressed up children.
João de Botas was a Portuguese sailor who adhered to Prince Pedro’s authority and, with his knowledge, instructed Cachoeira, Santo Amaro and São Francisco do Conde in the construction and command of the ships to combat the Portuguese fleet, being decisive for the war.
“João das Botas is revered by the Navy. Every year, between January and February, there is the João das Botas Regatta, in All Saints Bay, promoted by the Navy, in recognition of his achievements”, points out Jaime.
The bugler Luís Lopes may have stayed in the Bahian’s hearts precisely because nobody knows for sure whether the story told is true or not, which makes everybody more curious. No scholar has in-depth information, but what is known is that he has participated in the conflict that became known as the Battle of Piraja, where he probably played a decisive role. Legend has it that instead of the “retreating” command, he gave the signal of “cavalry advance” and then “to behead”. And those who ended up in retreat were the Lusitanian troops, imagining that the Brazilians had received reinforcements.
The “Leathered of Pedrão” today don’t participate in large numbers in the festivities. The Bahia Public Prosecutor’s Office has prohibited the participation of animals in the procession. In history, they formed a cowboys’ squad, from Chapada Diamantina, who also went to the fight. Therefore “leathered”, because their armors were made of leather.
It’s only been a few years since a woman named Maria Felipa began to have her story told and celebrated as one of the people’s heroines. Maria Felipa de Oliveira, a black woman, fisherman, shellfish gatherer and ganhadeira, fought in the battles of Brazil’s Independence on the island of Itaparica (Bahia – BA). She would have commanded a group of about 40 women to first seduce the Portuguese and then set their ships on fire. A famous beating of nettle on Portuguese soldiers is also attributed to her.
The path traveled by the procession
On July 2, the procession traces the way the army went through the streets, theoretically doing the same route they would have done when they arrived in the city, taking the forts and quartering in convents, churches and barracks.
The festival starts at Largo da Lapinha, where fireworks, the National Anthem and flag raising take place. There is also the placing of flowers, by the authorities, at the monument to General Labatut – French military who commanded the Peacemaker Army. In this walk, which passes through the Soledade Convent, towards the neighborhood of Santo Antônio Além do Carmo, you can see the houses decorated with the flags in the colors of Brazil and the state of Bahia. This is also due to a traditional award for the best façade, which encourages the residents to participate in the party.
Marisa Vianna says that in the course, people put in their houses allusive things to the 2 of July. “… I realize that this gesture is to be part of this celebration”, she says. The photographer gives the hint of the house she has already photographed for a few years:
“There is a house that I don’t think will participate in the contest, because it is super decorated, very close to the Boqueirão Church (in Carmo). An indigenous man and an indigenous woman are always placed, as well as Joana Angelica and Maria Quitéria, with people dressed up representing independence”, she says.
Afterwards, the procession continues stopping at several points until Pelourinho. When arriving at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People, there is a beautiful tribute. The Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People was founded in the year 1685 and elevated to the category of Third Order on July 2, 1899. A double festive date. The homage begins with a mass at 7am and then, with the arrival of the emblematic cars, they place floral wreaths in the images of Caboclo and Cabocla.
“We black rosarians are the only living black brotherhood in the world that is part of the Third Order of the Rosary. (…) We commemorate this elevation on July 2, and as Bahians, Brazilians and Soteropolitans, we also honor the caboclos in greeting and respect for independence”, explains Cosma Pereira de Miranda, secretary of the Third Order.
Going ahead from the Historic Center to Rio Branco Palace, the cars stop, returning around 2pm. It is at this moment that a Civic Ceremony takes place in the 2nd Naval District in Commerce. Afterwards, the procession continues to Campo Grande, where the flag hoisting by authorities happens, as well as the National Anthem execution by the Navy, Army and Aeronautics music bands. There’s also the placement of floral wreaths in the Monument on July 2 by the present authorities; lighting of the Symbolic Fire pyre – which is usually of a great Bahian athlete; and execution of the 2 of July Anthem.
At the end of the day, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., there is the Encounter of Philharmonics from Cachoeira, Saubara, Santo Amaro da Purificação, São Francisco do Conde, Candeias, Simões Filho and others.
It was on July 2, 1998, the date of the Independence of Brazil in Bahia, in the community of Pirajá, that the Cortejo Afro was created, a highlight among several Afro groups that participate in the Carnival of Salvador. The fact of being created within the confines of a Candomblé terreiro – Ilê Axé Oyá – attests its authenticity and strength of black culture under the inspiration and spiritual guidance of the priestess Mãe Santinha, one of the most respected Mothers of Santo in Bahia. (Source: www.cortejoafro.com.br)
The date of creation of the block was chosen because the Battle of Pirajá took place in the neighborhood, and was considered one of the main military shocks of the war for the Independence of Brazil in Bahia, taking place in the Cabrito-Campinas-Pirajá area. The main battle for independence, in which the Bahians defeated the forces of Portuguese colonialism, in 1823, was in the Pirajá Pantheon, located in Largo de Pirajá. Every July 1st, the place receives the Symbolic Fire coming from the Recôncavo, representing the revolutionary villages installed in the region. The remains of Pierre Labatut, French general who fought in the Battle of Pirajá, can be found in the pantheon of the neighborhood’s main square.
The Cabocla’s Return
After days of exposure in the Campo Grande square, for contemplation and popular devotion, the cars with the figures of Caboclo and Cabocla make the journey back on July 5th. The celebrations are closed with the procession of the emblematic cars to Lapinha, with the participation of Orchestras like Maestro Reginaldo de Xangô, fanfares and cultural groups.
Marisa Vianna says she has seen some very interesting things while the car is in Campo Grande. “The people who are most in need, the homeless people, can go there to pick up the fruits… and yet I don’t see anyone with bags, or grabbing everything from the car, on the contrary.” According to her, it is there that the symbol greatness is recognized, because, as she said:
“The Caboclo’s food feeds the people, this is very strong for me”.
The war for independence was a convergence of forces across the country that few people know about. The purpose of the party is to be from the people to the people, being one of Salvador greatest ones. Discovering the stories of Brazil’s first capital is to understand our own country formation.
By Fernanda Slama
Geographic and Historical Institute of Bahia (IGHB)
(Where the emblematic Caboclo and Cabocla cars are placed during the year)
Nº Piedade, Av. Joana Angélica, 43 – Nazaré, Salvador – BA, 40050-001.
More information by phone: (71) 3329-4423
Book: História da Bahia, by Luís Henrique Dias Tavares, historian, professor emeritus of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA).
Book: Irmandade do Rosário dos Pretos – Quatro séculos de Devoção – uma realização da Venerável Ordem Terceira do Rosário de Nossa Senhora às Portas do Carmo Irmandade dos Homens Negros.
Reading of the interview “Uma guerra na Bahia” (A war in Bahia), made by the journalist Mariluce Moura with the historian Luís Henrique Dias Tavares about the book: “Independência do Brasil na Bahia”, also by the historian.
Note: “They say* the day has risen beautiful, without the June rains. The sun was shining!” – The same story was told by different people in the construction of this article. Both in the books and in the interviews, as well as the curious and Bahia lovers, they told in their own way that the day raised without clouds and the sun reigned on July 2, 1823.
Note: Te Deum ** (To You, God!) is a hymn of the Liturgy of the Hours, prayed on Sundays and solemn days. This hymn was composed by St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, in the year 387, in Mission, on the occasion of St. Augustine’s baptism.
Institutional Repository of UFRJ – Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Geledés – Institute for Black Women.