The Blunderbuss is a firearm with a short barrel, also known as a grenadier, reiuna, reuna or riuna (musket), especially, in northeast Brazil.
The muskets or blunderbusses used in the Paraguay War of 1865 were modified so that the weapons were adapted for use by ‘blunderbussers’ at parties in the interior of Pernambuco. Since the end of the 19th century, groups of blunderbussers perform in Caruaru at bonfire parties.
In general, the merriment consists of men carrying blunderbusses, which are fired by charges of gunpowder, in honour of patron saints or in civic and political ceremonies.
In Caruaru, blunderbussers get together in groups, mockeries or battles, under the leadership of a sergeant and the general control of a commandant, who answers for, in the eyes of the authorities, the shots fired during the presentations.
The way in which blunderbussers come together is very basic. There are no formalities or regulations. All is needed is to possess a blunderbuss, obey the sergeant and know how to handle a firearm. A concertina of 8 basses, a triangle, a tanned-leather drum and a wooden flute band, accompany the blunderbussers of Caruaru, with the sound ‘xaxado’ (a type of regional music and dance) melody, which speeds up the parades or slows them down, at the presentation of arms in front of churches, and at the start of the ‘saves’. The costume is made up of ‘zuarte’ or blue, cotton clothes, a neck scarf, a leather hat, leather shoes and tin cartridges. Blunderbussers from the swamp areas wide-brimmed hats with the middle folded up and decorated with wild flowers. They also put flowers in their gun barrels.
The Commandants wear stars on their shoulders and hats and use canes or umbrellas as a symbol of their command. Despite Caruaru being the main centre for blunderbusses in the State, there are also groups in other Pernambuco towns like Cabo, Limoeiro and Belo Jardim.
Recife, 15 July 2003.
Updated on 21 August 2009.
BONALD NETO, Olímpio. Bacamarte, pólvora & povo. Rio de Janeiro: Arquimedes Edições, [19--?].
LIMA, Claudia. História junina. Recife: PCR, Secretaria de Turismo, 1997. p. 27. Edição especial.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Bacamarteiros. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.