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Iputinga (Neighbourhood, Recife)

Is a word from the Tupi language, used by the Indians to designate fields that flood with water during winter, remaining water logged for some time.

Iputinga (Neighbourhood, Recife)

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Last update: 17/09/2013

By: Maria do Carmo Gomes de Andrade - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Iputingais a Recife neighbourhood situated in the city’s northern zone on the banks of the Capibaribe River, known as the bairro dos artistas (artists’ neighbourhood). ‘Iputinga’, called ‘Ipueira’in old documents, is a word from the Tupi language, used by the Indians to designate fields that flood with water during winter, remaining water logged for some time.

By consulting books like Velhas igrejas e subúrbios históricos (Old Churches and Historic Suburbs) by Flávio Guerra and Arredores do Recife (Recife and Surrounds) by Pereira da Costa, it can be seen that there is no direct reference to the neighbourhood of Iputinga. In colonial times, around the mid-16th Century, it was the first land area divided among the colonials.

These lands were considered to be in a prime location and great for sugar production. Many plantations appeared on the Capibaribe plain, among them the São João, Santo AntônioandMeio plantations. Over time, on these plantations grew prosperous settlements that have given rise to the neighbourhoods of today.

lands of the Capibaribeplain contain what today are the neighbourhoods of Brasilit, Cidade Universitária (University City), Iputinga, Monsenhor Fabrício, Engenho do Meio, Bomba Grande, and the part of Cordeiro bordering Madalena and Torre, meaning that the origin of Iputinga most likely is the same as the other neighbourhoods on the Capibaribe plain, particularly the neighbourhood of Várzea itself.

Out of all the grand plantation houses from the golden age of sugar, only some ruins remain in Iputinga, such as the Barbalho plantation manor. The Capibaribe River, which has not had crystal clear water for a long time, favelas (slums) resting on its banks and periodical flooding, made its residents, especially those with better financial security, gradually leave the neighbourhood.

After the great flood of 1975 which almost destroyed the neighbourhood, this evasion increased greatly. Val Bonfim, an artist and teacher who was born and continued to live in the neighbourhood, created the artistic movement ‘Iputinga Bairro dos Artistas’ (Iputinga Artists’ Neighbourhood),whose goal was to bring back some of the old residents and artists and unite them with the same ideal, making their work more well-known and, consequently, increasing sales.

Little by little, the group was built up and gained support from governmental organisations. This movement worked as the fuel for the neighbourhood’s revitalisation. New artists appeared and former residents returned. Val Bonfimmanaged to identify artists residing in the geographical area that is understood to be Iputinga: Monsenhor Fabrício, part of Caiara, Engenhodo Meio, Cordeiro, Bom Pastor and adjacencies.

Among the accomplishments attributed to the cultural society of artists from the Iputinga neighbourhood, those that stand out include the de-centralisation of art along the Boa Viagem-City Centre-Olinda corridor, which attracts tourists to the city’s northern zone; the implementation of the only movement dedicated to artists, and the changes to the features of Caxangá Avenue, through permanent exhibitions of art in the central medians.

Artists from different schools and mediums are affiliated with the Iputinga Neighbourhood Cultural Society of Artists (SCIBA). There are sculptors, carvers, wood-cutters, painters, photographers and printers, opera singers, visual programmers, ceramists, poets. Among them, some are also teachers.

By sculptor and carver Corbiniano Lins, the Monumento aoTalento (Monument to Talent) stands on the central median of Caxangá Avenue, at the entrance to Monsenhor Fabrício. It is a 3.10m-high sculpture that, without doubt, is both a tribute to the artists and a postcard of the neighbourhood and the city of Recife.

Recife, 11 august 2004.
(Updated on 9 september 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.

sources consulted

COSTA, F. A. Pereira da. Arredores do Recife. Recife: Fundação de Cultura da Cidade do Recife, 1981.

GALVÃO, S. de Vasconcelos. Diccionario chorographico, historico e estatistico de Pernambuco. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1908.

GUERRA, Flávio. Velhas Igrejas e subúrbios históricos. Recife: Prefeitura Municipal, Departamento de Documentação e Cultura, 1970.

REINAUX, Marcílio. Iputinga bairro dos artistas. Recife: Ed. Comunicarte, 1987.

how to quote this text

Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Iputinga (Neighbourhood, Recife). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009