Imagem card

Bears of carnival (Ursos do Carnaval)

Some Carnival icons - caboclinhos, Indian tribes, carnival bears, carnival ox

Bears of carnival (Ursos do Carnaval)

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 06/06/2022

By: Claudia M. de Assis Rocha Lima - Researcher at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - PhD in Sciences of Religion



HISTORY - One of the most beautiful expressions of the Pernambuco carnival is in the evolution of the caboclinhos tribes that pass almost in a rush through the streets of the center and suburbs to the sound of a small group and the marking sound of preacas, which produce a characteristic click in the arrow's percussion against the bow, with its fluttering banners and the beauty of its costumes. If in maracatu there is all the heritage of black nations, in caboclinho we find the presence of the Indigenous man who, as the primitive owner of the land, maintains during carnival his dances and legends that tell the glory of their ancestors.


BACKGROUND - Caboclinhos, or as in the popular saying “cabocolinhos”, is a kind of group of men and women, wearing eye-catching ostrich and peacock feather headdresses, with feather skirts, carrying ornaments on their arms, ankles and necklaces, (also of feathers). They parade in two lines making rich evolutions to the sound of the dry clicks of the preaca, lowering and rising with agility, as if they had springs in their legs, at the same time they twirl, leaning on the balls of their feet and heels.


FIGURATION - Caboclinho is certainly one of the most original presences in Recife's carnival, the group being formed by: chief, mother-of-the-tribe, shaman, matruá, captain, lieutenant, standard-bearer, perós (boys and girls), caboclos-de-baque, cord of caboclos and cord of caboclas and in general four musicians. The set is formed by the inúbia (a small piccolo of bamboo), caracaxás or mineiros, snare drum and bass drum. The plastic beauty of the young Indigenous women, the strong choreography of the caboclos and the variety of colors in the group stand out.


Caboclinhos Canindés - founded in 1897
Carijós - founded in 1897
Taperaguases - founded in 1916
Caboclo Tupy - founded in 1933
Caboclinhos Tabajaras - founded in 1956
Tapirapés - founded in 1957


These are some of the caboclinhos tribes that have made/make the joy of Pernambuco carnival.




HISTORY - It is a party originating in the State of Paraíba that today reaches a large number of fans in the Carnival of Recife. In the Indigenous tribes, the organizers are called masters and are almost always followers of indigenous cults such as Pajelança, being from the Catimbó line, they give a mystical touch to the merrymaking where, according to them, they sometimes parade “acted” (incorporated) by the spirits of caboclos.


BACKGROUND - Arranged in two rows, with Indigenous people on one side and Indigenous people on the other, the first carrying hatchets and the second carrying small spears, the Indigenous Tribes are often confused with the Caboclinhos tribes. One of the striking features of the difference is the non-use of preacas by the Indigenous tribes, common to caboclinhos. They paint their faces red, with headdresses made of heron, emu or chicken feathers, and use small shields. The ensemble has a varied choreography, with a number of four to nine dances for each tribe, always accompanied by a group of musicians formed by two harmonicas, two ganzás and three surdos.



Paranaguases – founded in 1953
Tupy-Guarany - founded in 1956
Tupy Papo Amarelo - founded in 1962
Tapajós - founded in 1985


These are some Indigenous tribes that have made/make the joy of Pernambuco carnival.




HISTORY - One of the most esteemed games and in fast evolution in the carnival of Recife is La Ursa. The carnival bear originated with gypsies from Europe who roamed the city with their animals, tied to a chain, who danced from door to door for a few coins, to the sound of the order: “Dança la ursa!”.


BACKGROUND - The central figure is the bear, usually a man wearing an old overall covered in burlap, velvet, plush or agave with his papier-mâché mask painted in various colors, fastened by a rope around his waist, held by the tamer. This figure dances for everyone's joy to the sound of the group's own tunes or hits from the carnival parades, which can vary to baião, forró, xote and even polka. The carnival bear orchestra is usually formed by accordion, triangle, bass drum, reco-reco, ganzá, tambourine; there are other more elaborate ones in which guitars, cavaquinhos, clarinets and even trombones appear. Sometimes the ensemble brings, in addition to the tamer, the bear and the orchestra, the treasurer (with his money-raising folder), poster or banner holder, goals and other elements that are there just to play carnival.



Polar de Areias – founded in 1950
Preto da Pitangueira - founded in 1957
Texaco - founded in 1958
Branco da Mustardinha - founded in 1962
Popular da Boa Vista - founded in 1964
Minerva - founded in 1969


These are some of the bears that have made/make the joy of Pernambuco carnival

- The auto do bumba-meu-boi, present in the Christmas cycle, becomes carnival, and comes to the streets of Recife in a colorful and choreography proper to the days of revelry. Bois, Burras, Calus, Mateus, Catirina, Sebastião, Mané Pequenino, Babau, take to the streets of the suburbs during Carnival and, under the command of the captain on his seahorse, put children in an uproar and make the humblest classes happy.


FIGURATION – Sometimes the carnival oxen come out with more than 50 figures, with an orchestra made up of bass drum, harmonica, gongue, bass drum, snare drum, banner, board, sorcerer, among other components


Boi Misterioso – founded in 1927
Boi da Cara Preta - founded in 1950
Boi Teimoso - founded in 1956
Boi Estrela - founded in 1985
Boi Manhoso - fundado em 1986


These are some of the oxes that have made/are making the joy of Pernambuco carnival.


Recife, June 29, 2010.


how to quote this text

LIMA, Cláudia M. de Assis Rocha. Bears of carnival (Ursos do Carnaval). In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2010. Available from: Access on: Month. day, year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2009.)