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A currently in-vogue identity reference for people from Pará, carimbó is a form of expression marked by rhythm and dance.


Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 27/09/2016

By: Júlia Morim - Consultant Fundação Joaquim Nabuco / Unesco - Social Scientist, Master in Anthropology

Pescador, pescador porque é que no mar não tem jacaré,
Fisherman, fisherman why does the sea have no alligators,
Pescador, pescador porque foi que no mar não tem peixe-boi
Fisherman, fisherman why is it that the sea has no manatees
Eu quero saber a razão que no mar não tem tubarão
I want to know the reason that the sea has no sharks
Eu quero saber porque é que no mar não tem jacaré
I wonder why the sea has no alligators
Ah! Como é bom pescar à beira mar,
Ah! How good it is to fish on the shore,
Em noite de luar
On a moonlit night

(Pescador, pescador – by Mestre Lucindo/Canarinhos)

A currently in-vogue identity reference for people from Pará, carimbó is a form of expression marked by rhythm and dance. The playing of the curimbó (a type of skin drum), the rattle of maracas, the strings of the banjo and, in some locations, the sound of the flute are accompanied by pairs of dancers – the women with full and flowery skirts and men with short pants, like those of fishermen. Mostly present in the Atlantic region of the state, known as ‘Salgado Paraense’ or ‘Salty Pará’, and in the metropolitan area of Belém, no one knows for sure where or when it appeared, although some municipalities call themselves the “cradle of carimbó”.

From the oldest reports, it is known that meetings to play the curimbó, the instrument that gave its name to the form of expression, occurred after fishing and planting. According to older musicians, carimbó was once considered a “black party” and was repressed by police forces. Today carimbó is associated both with religious festivities, especially in the period from the end of the year until Epiphany, such as the celebration of St Benedict, and with secular celebrations like birthdays and gatherings (IPHAN, 2013). Festivals like the Marapanim Carimbó Festival are also important for the diffusion and continuity of the event, as well as being a time for groups to meet and exchange, encouraging them to produce new compositions in order to participate in competitions (when it is the festival’s purpose). During the holidays, there is often a covered, temporary or permanent structure or shed with a space for dancing where the performances of carimbó groups take place.

To play carimbó, one, two, or (rarely) even three curimbós are needed. The drums are handmade from the excavation of a tree trunk and covered with animal hide. From the Tupi Korimbó, the name is a combination of curi (hollow wood) and m’bó (bored, dug), meaning “stick that produces sound.” (IPHAN, 2013, p. 15). The players, or drummers, sit on the instrument and play with both hands. Completing the carimbó instrumental group (with variations), are the banjo, tambourine, maracas, milheiro drum, guiro, flute (or other wind instrument) and onça drum. The introduction of guitars in the ensemble – which is uncommon – brought a variation considered more “modern” as opposed to the more “traditional” form that the players call ‘stick and rope’ carimbó, i.e. that in which groups use only handmade, not electric, instruments. The lyrics of the songs mostly speak of flora, fauna and work, as most composers are fishermen or farmers.

Learning of both the music and dance is through participation and observation. Some groups have created projects for children, in which they are taught to do what used to be learned in practice: playing the instruments and the dance steps. Examples of this initiative are the Tio Milico Citizen’s Spatial Project in the Fortalezinha community on Maiandeua Island (or Algodoal), the Uirapuru Mirim group in the municipality of Marapanim, and the Trica Ferro Mirim, in Novo Santarém municipality.

Initially the result of meetings between friends, family and/or neighbours, performing carimbó gradually changed and groups were formed that have become famous and have specific formations. In the 1960s and 1970s, carimbó became more popular, common on the radio and at dances. Many artists have recorded LPs, such as Pinduca, Cupijó and Verequete and his group O Uirapuru. At this time, “researchers and artists became involved in national promotional projects for the art form, as a national genre of music and dance, with the promotion of show circuits for the carimbó groups.” (IPHAN, 2013, p. 97).

In 2008, the Irmandade de Carimbó de São Benedito de Santarém Novo (Carimbó Brotherhood of St Benedict of Novo Santarém) and the groups Raízes da Terra (Earth Roots), Japiim and Uirapurí requested recognition of Carimbó as a Cultural Heritage of Brazil. Since then the Carimbó Cultural Heritage Campaign has mobilised groups and supporters in the manifestation of the heritage process, which is being finalized.



Recife, 29 May 2014.


sources consulted

CARIMBÓ.Image in this text. Available in: <>. Accessed: 27 september 2016.

CARIMBÓ–Patrimônio Cultural Brasileiro. Available at: <>. Accessed: 28 may 2014.

IPHAN. Dossiê Carimbó (versão preliminar). Belém, 2013.

how to quote this text

MORIM, Júlia. Carimbó. In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, 2014. Available at: Access on: day month year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2020.)