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Badia: the great lady of Recife’s Carnival

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Mother of Saint

Badia: the great lady of Recife’s Carnival

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 31/05/2022

By: Cláudia Verardi - Librarian at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco - PhD in Librarianship and Documentation

“Oh Mother Badia
Daughter of Oxum
Aê, êô
Miss Oxum aê, êô
Daughter of heaven for us to see”
(Rivaldo Pessoa).


Granddaughter of Africans, Maria de Lourdes Silva, known as Badia, was born in Recife on April 9, 1915 and became a symbol of the city’s black identity and culture and one of the main representatives of religiosity and popular tradition.


Badia lived her entire life in the São José neighborhood in Recife (a stronghold of descendants of freed slaves who became low-income workers). The place where she lived became known as Axé das Tias do Pátio do Terço or Casa das Tias, having been organized and led by her and other xangozeiras (Xangô followers)


The Church of the Terço was built by slaves and, according to some historians, the nearby area would have been a cemetery for enslaved blacks.


Some scholars consider that the Casa das Tias do Pátio do Terço corresponds to the oldest model of the xangô of Pernambuco and cannot be seen only as a space of religiosity, but of social influence.


African culture has always had a great influence on Brazilian regions, as it is the country with the largest population of African origin outside Africa, mainly the Northeast region of Brazil.


African manifestations, rituals and customs were prohibited in the early 19th century, as they did not belong to the European cultural universe and did not represent its prosperity. They were associated with cultural backwardness. From the 20th century, however, they began to be considered genuinely national artistic expressions and became part of the national calendar.


It was during the 20th century that religions of African origin began to be studied, which consequently became known from the 1930s onwards as Xangôs.
“In Pernambuco, religions of Afro-Brazilian origin are called Xangô. This word specifically refers to one of the orixás belonging to the Afro-Brazilian pantheon, god of lightning and thunder. The Xangô religion, therefore, is equivalent to the so-called Candomblé in Bahia, Tambor de Mina in Maranhão, Batuque in Rio Grande do Sul, among other names. (MASCARENHAS; CAMPOS, p. 345-346).”


The Pernambuco’s Anthropology linked to Afro-Brazilian religions was built by names such as Ulysses Pernambucano (1932), Gilberto Freyre (1998), Gonçalves Fernandes (1937), Vicente Lima (1937), René Ribeiro (1952), Roberto Motta (1977 – 1978), and Maria do Carmo Brandão (1986).


The African culture, so ingrained in our culture and so present in music and dance makes Maracatu a religious manifestation.


Badia was a saint-mother who advised many people. The seamstress, married and childless, who from an early age began to make costumes and ornaments for carnival groups, was also one of the main mothers of maracatu and became a prominent figure in Recife’s Carnival.


Maracatu, a folk dance typical of the State of Pernambuco, emerged in the mid-eighteenth century, from the cultural miscegenation of African, Portuguese and indigenous music.


The dance consists of a kind of procession to the King of Congo. With the abolition of slavery, the institution of the king of Congo disappeared, and thereby maracatu began to parade its drumming and dances on the days of Santos Reis, on the feasts of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and at carnival. This folkloric manifestation was listed in 2014 by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan) as a Brazilian intangible heritage.


There are two types of maracatus:


1) Rural Maracatu, also known as baque solto maracatu;
2) Maracatu Nação, also known as baque virado maracatu.

Rural Maracatu or Baque Solto Maracatu:


It is a folkloric manifestation originating in the state of Pernambuco whose main symbol is the spear caboclo.
According to Portal (2017, p.1) the Rural Maracatu, which is a tradition in the interior of Pernambuco, is a popular cultural event that takes place during Carnival and also during Easter.


Maracatu Nação or Baque Virado Maracatu:


Being considered the oldest Afro-Brazilian rhythm, it is a folkloric manifestation originating in the state of Pernambuco, formed by a percussive musical ensemble that accompanies a royal procession.


The maracatus dance to the sound of Tarol, zabumba and ganzás and the dances are marked by very specific choreographies and the participants represent historical characters such as Kings, Queens and Ambassadors.


The maracatus ceremonies aim to obtain the protection of the Orixás, the success of the presentations and the good performance of the parades without any incident. The calungas, which are initiated puppets, represent the ancestors and their orixás using the names of noblemen and women and pay religious obeisances.


“It was Badia who established, together with the sociologist and journalist Paulo Viana, in the 1960s, the meeting of the maracatu nations in the Pátio do Terço for the ceremony of the Silent Drums Night” (MASCARENHAS; CAMPOS, 2011).


What is the Silent Drum Night? The event, which always takes place at Pátio do Terceira, in downtown Recife, on Carnival Monday, is a mixture of religiosity with popular artistic expression, it is actually a meeting of maracatus from various parts of Pernambuco. At midnight, when the lights in the neighborhood are turned off and the alfaias (musical instruments) are silenced, the most awaited moment of the event takes place, the participants begin chanting and praying to honor the enslaved blacks and ask the orixás for protection. In 2017, celebrating the 57th anniversary, 28 nations of baque virado maracatu got together.


According to Silva (2016, p. 325), Badia liked to call herself “Carnival seamstress” and took part in several carnival associations, including the samba school Students of São José, the Verdureiras de São José group and the Vassourinhas club. Nevertheless, she did not like to associate her image with any particular group.


From a very early age Badia began to sew costumes, at the age of twelve she sewed for a child’s mockery, the Fumaça não assa carne (Smoke cannot roast meat), by Coqueiros.


The 1970s marked the beginning of the phenomenon of spectacularization of Recife’s Carnaval, when the clubs made their presentation with the aim of pleasing and attracting the spectators. In this scenario, the samba schools became the main attractions of the local Momo revelry to the detriment of the legitimate representations of Pernambuco culture.


According to Silva (2016, p.333), the representatives of Fundação de Cultura, whose main mission is to recover the “originality” of Recife’s Carnival, that is, to give it back its popular aspect, decided to pay tribute to Badia, one of the main figures of the city’s Carnival. Therefore, the 1985 carnival was in her honor.


Badia’s choice was based on her leadership in black culture in Recife, affirmed, among other aspects, by the São Bartolomeu Society (which would meet at her house) and the Silent Drums Night, and her undoubted popularity acquired through her connection with carnival associations.


“The connection of Badia with several carnival associations, perhaps, is associated with her relationship with the São José neighborhood. For many years, this locality concentrated a high number of carnival associations, in addition to being a space of strong commercial activity. It had a high population concentration of individuals who worked in commerce and lived in the neighborhood itself” (Silva, 2016, p. 334).


Badia’s entire trajectory occupies a place in the memory of her connection with the Tias do Pátio do Terço and some of the most important events linked to popular black culture maintained year after year reflect her importance as one of the main figures of Recife’s carnival.


“The great Lady of Recife’s carnival” or the “First lady of Pátio do Terço Carnival,” Badia, died at the age of 76 on July 17, 1991.



• In 1997, the carnival preview known as Baile Perfumado was created in honor of the founder, director, godmother, seamstress and embroiderer of several carnival groups, mother Badia.



Recife, July 30, 2017.


sources consulted

Amaral, Rita. Povo-de-santo, povo de festa: um estudo antropológico do estilo de vida dos adeptos do candomblé paulistano. Dissertação de Mestrado, FFLCH / USP, São Paulo, 1992.

CHAVES, Leonardo. 2017. A Noite dos Tambores Silenciosos no Carnaval de Pernambuco. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 31 jul. 2017.

MONTEIRO, João. Casa das Tias, Casa de Badia: Pré-ruina da Memória Africana do Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 31 jul. 2017.

MASCARENHAS, Maria Gabriela Borges; CAMPOS, Zuleica Dantas Pereira. A espetacularização da noite dos tambores silenciosos e o xangô pernambucano. In: Anais Eletrônicos do V Colóquio de História “Perspectivas Históricas: historiografia, pesquisa e patrimônio”. Recife, 16 a 18 de novembro de 2011. p. 345-354. ISSN: 2176-9060. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 31 jul. 2017.

PORTAL Brasil. Maracatu Rural de Pernambuco é um dos patrimônios imateriais do Brasil. 2017. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 3 ago. 2017.

SILVA, Augusto Neves. É carnaval no recife de 1985, a alegria é que impera! oh que beleza, tem festa, tem magia e tem mãe badia nesta folia!. CLIO: Revista de Pesquisa Histórica, n. 34.1, p. 324-345, 2016. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 08 ago. 2017.

SILVA, Vagner Gonçalves da Silva (Org.). Caminhos da Alma: memória afro-brasileira. São Paulo: Selo Negro Edições , 202. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 3 ago. 2017.

how to quote this text

VERARDI, Cláudia Albuquerque. Badia: the great lady of Recife’s Carnival. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2017. Available from: Accessed: day month year. (Exemple: Aug 4. 2020.)