Imagem card

Carlos Ivan de Melo: from procession litters to momo revelries in Olinda - PE

Birth Date:

Death Date:


Plastic artist


Carlos Ivan de Melo: from procession litters to momo revelries in Olinda - PE

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 28/02/2023

By: Cirinéa Amaral - Music Teacher at CAP / UFPE and Specialist in Music and Performing Arts,
Rúbia Lóssio - Coordination of Studies of Popular Cultures at Fundaj - PhD in Sociology

Olinda is one of the oldest cities in Brazil. It was founded by the Portuguese Duarte Coelho, who turned it into the capital of the most prosperous captaincy of Colonial Brazil, being for centuries the center of the sugar aristocracy.
The sugar cycle brought the big sugar mills to Olinda, with much wealth and refinement, contributing for the creation of the first course of Juridical Sciences in Brazil.
To this day, the city has an atmosphere full of intellectual discussions and a spirit of freedom of thought. At the same time, the former burgo Duartino (Village of Duarte) coexists with the ancient monasteries and old churches, built on the cliffs and adorned by the romantic and famous slopes from where one can see the blue sea that once brought the first Portuguese caravels.
Those who were born in this bucolic city say that “being from Olinda is a state of mind.”
Besides housing artists and poets in its heart, the city also presents every year one of the most lively carnivals in Brazil, in which the clarions of the King Momo announce the spontaneity and contagious joy of its inhabitants, mixing the sounds of the musical instruments of the blocos, troças, carnival clubs, afoxés, and maracatus with those of the bells of monasteries and old churches; thus craving in the soul of all inhabitants the certainty that Dionysus and Apollo live very well together in this city where the Sacred and the Profane make it one of the most democratic and beautiful cities in the land of brazilwood. This is the scenario in which the work of Carlinhos (as his friends call him) emerged and spread. Dichotomous and beautiful, religious and playful, Olinda is eternal (as Capiba said). And certainly Apollo, Euterpe, Terpsichore, and Dionysus would like to have been born in burgo Duartino  had they not been born in the Olympus.
Today, Olinda is the primary Brazilian Capital of Culture. According to Silva (2006, p. 35), the city is also all carnival and joy in the people’s elaborate costumes. As in the frevo by Severino Luiz Araújo and Nelson Luiz Gusmão, “...é lindo o carnaval de Olinda / E quem não viu ainda/ Não sabe o que é paixão / A vida esquece a saudade / Tudo é felicidade / E amor no coração.” (“The Carnival of Olinda is beautiful / And those who have not seen it / Do not know what passion is / Life forgets nostalgia / All is happiness / And love in the heart.”) This city has the enchantment and magic of cheerful and critical people that during the Carnival are induced by the ecstasy of the games that take place on the famous narrow slopes, in its landscapes that meet the sea, historical churches between Rua do Amparo, Rua da Bica, and Alto da Sé. The São Bento Monastery, Praça do Carmo (Carmo Square), Praça do Jacaré (Jacaré Square), Varadouro among others are part of Olinda’s physical and poetic beauty. A cozy city flanked with squares, hills, the sea, and trees. It is the place for many artists to show their talent.


Hino do Elefante de Olinda (Hymn of the Elephant of Olinda) (Composition: Clídio Nigro / Clovis Vieira):


“Olinda! Quero cantar a ti esta canção.
 Teus coqueirais, o teu sol, o teu mar.
 Faz vibrar meu coração, de amor a sonhar
 Em Olinda sem igual
 Salve o teu Carnaval!”


Its landscape has resisted for several centuries, where a reunion with the past full of traditions occurs, which is explained and praised by Carlos Pena Filho in his poem:


 “Olinda é só para os olhos,
  Não se apalpa, é só desejo.
  Ninguém diz: é lá que eu moro.
  Diz somente: é lá que eu vejo.

  Tem verdágua e não se sabe,
  a não ser quando se sai.
  Não porque antes se visse,
  Mas porque não se vê mais.
  As claras paisagens dormem
  No olhar, quando em existência.
  Diluídas, evaporadas,
  Só se reúnem na ausência.” 


The plastic and carnival artist Carlos Ivan de Melo contributes to this architectural space of vibration and euphoria with his dedication and perfection to creative works praising what is beautiful.


Carlos Ivan de Melo is the son of Ms. Antônia da Paz Vieira de Melo and Mr. Manoel Vieira de Melo and was born in Olinda, at Rua Coronel João Lopes, formerly known as “Beco da Poeira” (Dust Alley), on the outskirts of Varadouro. In his childhood he admired the work of his aunt Julinha, a lady skilled in the arts of sewing and decoration and observed the creativity of the artists around him. His school was the city that served as his cradle, and his art teachers were the artists around him. Gradually, he acquired his own language and art style, combining a fantastic creativity with a refined and aristocratic style. He traveled to other lands, especially Portugal, where he went several times, including to present works such as the “Grupo de Canto e Dança de Olinda” (Olinda Song and Dance Group).

Professor Cirinéia met Carlos Ivan and his wife, Sílvia Melo (of blessed memory), in a presentation at Clube Atlântico, where many remarkable moments of the people of Olinda occurred. What drew her attention to his works, beyond his religiosity and involvement with the Roman Catholic Church, was his passion for Carnival and, especially, his extraordinary memory. Carlos Ivan clearly remembers facts, songs, and games from Olinda.

His love and admiration for Olinda’s past led him to organize for some years the “Baile das Sinhazinhas” (Little ladies’ ball), all dressed up, with Olinda’s youngsters, where he revived the old soirees of his beloved city. To explain his passion for music, Carlos Ivan recalls that, in Olinda, every song had a story, as was with Banho de Conde, written by Clídio Nigro and Wilson Wanderley. Organized by Iracema Lima Pires Ferreira, the Informativo para Escolas – Frevo e Maracatu (Informative text for schools – Frevo and Maracatu), from the 1994 Carnival, shows that “this composition from the old carnival of Olinda, with an allusive meaning to Mr. Ficher, the ‘bloco Guaiamu na Vara’ denounced the failure of its main competitor ‘Batutas de Olinda’.”


Vou formar a turma
Pra tomar banho na beira do mar
Vou ficar molhado
Eu vou dar água pelo carnaval

Vem padroeiro “fiche”
Que, acendi no “painé”
Não mergulhei, mas me afoguei (BIS)
Banho de maré tomei


Carlos Ivan’s work is also found in the litters and processions of Olinda and Recife, such as the processions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Passos (Recife) and the processions of Olinda, especially of the city’s patron saint, São Salvador do Mundo (Holy Savior of the World). His ornamentations of churches and other environments are recognized due to their good taste and respected by those who understand beauty and refinement.

Besides all this production, Carlos Ivan is also dedicated to the Carnival of Olinda and Recife. He is also an amateur musician, a carnavalesco (artist responsible for producing the plot and parade of a samba school), and a craftsman, having designed many costumes and themes for several blocos and troças of Olinda and Recife, including their standards. He was the carnavalesco of Pitombeira de Olinda and of many other clubs and troças. Currently, he is dedicated to Bloco da Saudade, for which he has been developing the most varied themes and designing their costumes, embroidery, and props for 13 years. Carlos Ivan de Melo deserves public recognition for the work he has done for the culture of Pernambuco.




Recife, 2006.

sources consulted

CARLOS Ivan de Melo [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 03 nov. 2019.


SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. VERAS, Luciana. A Primeira Capital Brasileira da Cultura – Olinda. Revista Continente Documento. Recife: CEPE, a. 4, n. 42, p. 1-35, 2006.

how to quote this text

AMARAL, Cirinéa; LÓSSIO, Rúbia. Carlos Ivan de Melo: dos andores das procissões às folias de momo em Olinda - PE. In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2006. Available at: Access on: day month year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2020.)