26.11.2014 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

Capoeira becomes Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© UNESCOYouth practicing Capoeira - Open School Programme - Brazil.

The Capoeira Circle was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The announcement was made today, 26 November, in the 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Chaired by José Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros (Peru), the Session was opened at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France) on 24 November.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian cultural practice, simultaneously a fight and a dance, that promotes mutual respect and social cohesion. Players form a circle at the centre of which two players engage with one another. The movements require great bodily dexterity. The other players around the circle sing, chant, clap and play percussive instruments. Capoeira circles comprise a master, counter-master and disciples. The master is the guardian of the knowledge of the circle that is learnt by other participants through observation and imitation.

The practice now joins Círio de Nazaré (PA), Frevo (PE), the Oral and Graphic Expressions of Wajãpis (AP) and Samba de Roda of the Recôncavo Baiano, which are already recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

For the vice-director of UNESCO Office in Brazil, Marlova Jovchelovich Noleto, inscribing the Capoeira Circle in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO acknowledges the relevance to one of the most expressive popular manifestations of the Brazilian culture and gives value to the African influence inherited in our history and culture.

According to Marlova, “the recognition assures more visibility to capoeira, raises the awareness to its importance and provides ways for dialogue in relation to the respect for the Brazilian cultural diversity.   We hope that this acknowledgement can contribute not only to the promotion of capoeira, but especially to stimulate the adoption of public policies for safeguarding and sustainability of this important cultural heritage by the governments and by the organized civil society,” she concludes.

During the 9th Session, which has 950 participants and lasts until the 28 November, besides examining the nominations, the Committee is examining 27 reports on the implementation of the Convention and eight reports on today’s status of the inscribed elements on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Representing Brazil in this meeting there are the President of the Institute of the National Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN), Jurema Machado; the Director of the Intangible Heritage Department (DPI-IPHAN), Célia Corsino; the diplomats of the Permanent Delegation of Brazil to UNESCO, and Brazilian capoeirists, among them, the masters Cobra Mansa, Pirta, Peter, Paulão Kikongo, Sabiá, and Master Janja. The sound of the atabaque and of the berimbau moved the present country representatives in the capoeira presentation at UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, on 25 November.

According to IPHAN, the organ connected to the Ministry of Culture in Brazil and responsible for presenting the nomination of the Capoeira Circle to UNESCO, the practice of capoeira is present in more than 150 countries besides Brazil, among them, the United States, France and Belgium. (source: Communication Advisory of the Ministry of Culture).

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