The Carnival banner is a decoratively designed and embroidered flag, normally of rectangular cloth, suspended from a horizontal crossbar called a ‘travessa’ and a vertical pole called a ‘varão’, representing allegories and symbols of the associations.
It is generally made of velvet or taffeta with a satin lining. Its dimensions are variable and it can weigh up to forty or fifty kilos, reaching a height of over four metres when carried by its bearer, who is called the ‘porta-estandarte’ (standard-bearer).
The material used usually consists of golden thread, sequins, beads, seed pearls (small pearls), paintings and embroideries.
Always carried in the centre, it is the symbol of the association, be it a ‘frevo’, ‘maracatu’, ‘caboclinho’, ‘reisado imperial’ or ‘troça’ club.
The Vassourinhas have as their symbol an angel playing a trumpet; the Clube das Pás Douradas, a doll; Galo da Madrugada, a rooster crowing on a perch; Prato Misterioso, a silver plate; Troça Pitombeira dos Quatro Cantos, a stretch of Prudente de Morais St, in Quatro Cantos (Four Corners), Olinda; Turma da Jaqueira Segurando o Talo, a jackfruit.
The banner is considered to be a sacred element by the entire group, a symbol of honour and the group’s integration flag. Its location in the parade is previously decided: in the front or near the orchestra, always being protected by a “guard of honour”.
It is through the flag that the association pays homage to the authorities, to its guardians and salutes other friendly associations when they meet during the parades.
It is seen as an element in which lies the valour and grandiosity of the Carnival group it represents, made with extreme care as it needs to represent the group well in art, beauty and opulence.
The banners of the Pernambuco Carnival associations contain common elements in their use in religious processions, having incorporated most of those prohibited by the Church in the Ash Wednesday and Bonfire processions: Lancer cordons, devils, bats, leading ladies, fools and masks.
After the abolition of slavery in 1888, the number of Carnival groups multiplied in the Recife neighbourhoods of Santo Antônio, São José and Boa Vista, with, for example, Clube das Pás Douradas (1888); Vassourinhas (1889); Lenhadores do Recife (1897), and others at the beginning of the 20th century, Toureiros de Santo Antônio (1914); Pão Duro (1916); Prato Misterioso (1919).
One of the oldest associations, Lenhadores do Recife, was able to get authorisation by decree of the Pernambuco governor at the time, Sigismundo Gonçalves (1899-1900), to use the coat of arms of the State of Pernambuco on their banner.
The ‘porta-estandarte’ is responsible for the conduct, choreography and guarding of the banner. There is pride in the position they hold, as it bears an elevated status in the association. They carry the banner against one of their shoulders with the ‘talabarte’, a leather belt crossing the chest which has a metal socket where the banner’s pole is fitted.
Generally their costume is made up of a white or blond wig, a shirt with lace ruffles and cuffs, a satin jacket embroidered with golden thread and jewels, pantaloons that are fixed at the knees, silk socks and patent leather shoes with gold buckles.
The choreography, to a ‘frevo’ beat, resembles minuets, waltzes and other ballroom dances of the 19th century.
Recife, 27 November 2006.
(Updated on 28 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Porta-estandarte, presença medieval no carnaval de Pernambuco. In: SOUTO MAIOR, Mário; VALENTE, Waldemar (Org.). Antologia pernambucana de folclore. Recife: Fundaj, Ed. Massangana, 1988. p. 165-169.
VALENTE, Waldemar. Gonfalões, bandeiras e estandartes. In: SOUTO MAIOR, Mário; VALENTE, Waldemar (Org.). Antologia do carnaval do Recife. Recife: Fundaj, Ed. Massangana, 1991. p. 377-379.
how to quote this text
Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Banners of Carnival Associations. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.