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Guerreiro (Merriment)

Auto dos Guerreiros or Guerreiro is one of the most characteristic and important popular Christmas Cycle merriments in Alagoas.

Guerreiro (Merriment)

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 11/10/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Guerreiro (Warrior) is the brother of Reisado, cousin of Xango, of índios da montanha, of the Bahian women, of the TaieiraToré de índio, Cabocolinho, Bumba-meu-boi and Quilombo Pastoril. (Master Benon, from Guerreiro Treme Terra Alagoas).

Auto dos Guerreiros or Guerreiro is one of the most characteristic and important popular Christmas Cycle merriments in Alagoas.It appeared in Alagoas, in the early twentieth century (1920). It represents, through the religious syncretism, the arrival of the messiah and the homage of the three Magi. It is presented from December 24 to January 6, Three Kings Day.

According to Théo Brandão, it was described for the first time in Brazil by Arthur Ramos, who stated that its formative elements would be the Congos and Caboclinhos, European peninsular totemic plays of African and Amerindian origin, and it has Bumba-meu-Boi as its dominant element.

Songs are danced by the various characters of the play: the King, the Queen (sometimes three in number: Queen of the Guerreiros, Mestizos and Nation); the lira: the Indian Peri and his vassals: the Master: the Vice-Master; two Ambassadors; the General; two Matthews; two Clowns; Caboclinhos of the Lira; the Gold Star; the Bright Star; the Band of the Moon; the Republican Star; the Butterfly; the Mermaid and the figures, as in the reisados.

With multicolored costumes adorned with mirrors, beads, ribbons, sequins, bright sand, satins, seed pearl beads (a pearl type), men wear shorts and long white socks and women dresses with accessories, according to their characters. They wear Christmas tree ornaments on hats, tiaras or crowns, umbrella breasts, shorts and robes, in imitation of the ancient noble costumes of colonial Brazil. The hats or crowns are true masterpieces of folk art.

At the front, in two rows, one beside the other, are the Ambassadors, the Stars, the Butterfly, the Mermaid and other characters.

Between the two rows come the Master, the Vice-Master, King, Queens, the Lira, the Indian Peri and his vassals, the General, the Caboclinhos, and in the background, the two Matthews with charcoal-darkened faces and clowns with white and red painted faces. The accordionist and drummers and ganza players, in plain clothes, complete the procession, playing the characteristic ranches and street marches of the merriment, such as requests for the opening of doors or headquarters; the pieces for entering rooms or headquarters; the Laud to the Divine; plays about love affairs, praises; insertions such as the Toad, the Madman, the Boar, the Messiah, the Ox and the Mosquito Killer.

Open the door, oh shepherdess.
It's just that I come with joy,
The saintly kings were celebrated,
Celebrated on this dayDo kneel, Guerreiro
Go and fulfill your destiny,
Put your knee on the ground
Let's pray to the Divine.

The boar's ugly
Come see
My people come see
The boar’s dance
Mister mosquito eater, where do you come from?
I’m killing mosquitoes for your own good.
Mister mosquito eater, where are you going?
I’m catching mosquitoes for your father.

What is most characteristic in Guerreiro, however, are the so-called parts, the episodes originating in Caboclinho and Pastoral, which do not exist in Reisado. Some are shorter and simpler, such as the Stars, Butterfly, Mermaid, Moon Band, sung and danced by their characters or figures, in the center or between the two rows:

I am the Gold Star
I come to say good evening,
I want to know if there is a celebration here
Long live the Christmas night...

December twenty four
My Warrior comes out to the street,
I praise all the stars
And our Band of the MoonI am a Butterfly

I come from Maceio
Dancing in the middle of the room
Spiraling aroundGood night all
Please enjoy:
I am the Mermaid
From the sea waves.

The parts of the Indian Peri and Lira are larger and more complex, with several songs, dances and dialogues. The indian Peri part is based on the arrest of an enemy warrior (the indian), who tries to get into the camp of the Guerreiros. There are several embassies among the vassals of the Indian and of the Guerreiros. After a great struggle by the Indian, including dueling with swords, he is trapped under the swords of the Guerreiros. In the end, the Indian is freed and concludes his presentation or part dancing among his former enemies:

Long live the Lira, long live the Gold Star
Long live our Butterfly and the Imperial Queen.
Olê, olá long live our Indian Peri
He owns this village

A Lira part – an altered form of Lilia, a famous character from an ancient Portuguese song very decanted by Brazilian and Portuguese poets in the 17th century – is led by the King of the Guerreiros to the village and threatened with death by the Caboclinho, by order of the Queen, who is jealous of the King. Despite the threat the Caboclinho proposes to spare Lira’s life, on the condition she accepts him as her husband. The proposal is rejected and the Caboclinho kills her, but like in other plays, the Lira is resurrected by Matthew, who acts as a sorcerer and gives her a popular medicine.

After the presentation of the Lira part, the merriment ends and the group withdraws singing its goodbyes:
Oh I miss the Warrior that went away
When he left this special place
I’ll leave behind many beautiful brunettes
That my heart desires but whom I cannot take away

The Guerreiro has received influences from dances and songs such as the Baianas revelry - a rural modification of Maracatu, that originates from southern Pernambuco – and from the Xango yards.

The merriment is presented in several municipalities in Alagoas such as Arapiraca (Craibas), Atalaia, Boca da Mata, Branquinha, Cajueiro, Campo Alegre, Capela, Chã Preta, Delmiro Gouveia, Igreja Nova, Junqueiro, Maceió, Maribondo, Murici, Penedo, Piaçabuçu, Quebrangulo, Rio Largo, São José da Laje and São Luiz do Quintude.

Recife, 21 November 2011.

sources consulted

BRANDÃO, Théo. Folguedos natalinos: Guerreiro. [Maceió]: Universidade Federal de Alagoas; Museu Théo Brandão, [1976?]. (Coleção folclórica da UFAL, 23).

BRANDÃO, Théo. O guerreiro de Alagoas. Cultura, Brasília, D.F., ano 3, n. 11, p. 51-58, out./dez. 1973.

CABRAL, Marcelo. O guerreiro alagoano, 8 dez. 2006. Available at: <>. Acesso em: 18 nov. 2011.

O FOLCLORE alagoano. Available at: < Accessed: 18 November 2011.

how to quote this text

Surce: GASPAR, Lúcia. Guerreiro (folguedo). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple.: 6 August 2011.