Popular expression known in the capital cities and in the countryside of the states of Sergipe and Alagoas, the Lambe-Sujo versus Caboclinhos Party alludes to the destruction of quilombos in indigenous lands.
In Aracaju, the Party took place on the 24th October. In the city of Laranjeiras – founded in 1605, in the region of the Cotinguiba Valley, about twenty kilometers from the Sergipe capital –, for more than a hundred years, it has been preserved and staged once a year, on the second Sunday of October.Considered as one of the places in Sergipe where the black culture flourished, Laranjeiras shows traces of this culture both in ethnic representation as in a number of parties and rituals of the local calendar, and in the Taieiras parade and the Lambe-Sujo Party, both deriving from nagô tradition.
From the first records of this popular expression until today, the Party has gone through several changes or adjustments of places, rites and shocks.
Currently, the stages of the Lambe-Sujo versus Caboclinhos Party are developed in this way:
The first stage of the Party is called Esmolado. A ritual which starts at five o’clock on the eve of the main parade. It symbolizes the shock between black and indigenous people: a black man tied around the waist is conducted by an indigenous. They go around the streets of Laranjeiras asking traders for food which will be used to prepare a feijoada that will be served on the day of the party. Together with the collected food there is always an amount of money which is divided between the two characters of the Esmolado.
After lunch, still on the eve of the party, the lambe-sujos go to the forest to get taquara (a kind of plant similar to bamboo) and, in the middle of the afternoon, with this material, they build a tent which will hold the final battle. Currently, the place where the tent is built, due to the demands of urban refurbishment, is different from the first lambe-sujos demonstrations. Some stages of the party have disappeared, such as for example: the practice where the population had to leave food on the sidewalk for, at sunrise on Sunday, the black people would steal it to negotiate afterwards the devolution to the owners.
The movement for the party on Sunday is intense. The beginning is marked by the Sunrise that is the symbol of the Laranjeiras land taken by the black people. The concentration of lambe-sujos starts at three o’clock, in front of the house of the group coordinator. To prevent the members, who are standing in line, from moving allowing the population to invade that space, the presence of taqueiros is necessary. Armed with whip and wand they look like the foreman or capitão-do-mato that is recorded in history as the chiefs of mamelucos warriors, the destroyers of quilombos. Whipping the floor and the air he keeps the lambe-sujos in order and also opens the way for the parade to go on.
When the parade arrives in the city, one of the attractions is the action of the taqueiros: the population instigates them, with irony, smiles and sensuality, spreading whippings. The route is part of the urban center of Laranjeiras and it takes about an hour and a half. The population is present, following or observing from the sidewalk in front of their homes. Songs are sung and they have the rhythm of maxixe and maracatu. One of the most heard songs is: Samba nêgo / branco não vem cá / se vier /pau há de levar (Dance samba black man/whites don’t come here/if you do, we will beat you).
The group plays percussion instruments – atabaque (similar to primitive conga), tambourine, cuíca (kind of friction drum), shaker – which, in the beginning, were handmade and today they are manufactured.
In mid-morning on Sunday, the second parade of the party happens. The bodies of lambe-sujos are painted for the fight. They use a mix with black powder and soap and water, to make the dark foundation on the skin and they add cabaú honey (a thick sugar cane syrup which is a residual part of that put in sugar containers and which flows through the holes, then it is stored in tanks and used) to ensure the strong brightness that is characteristic of the group. In the beginning, the painting was done with ground and sieved coal; afterwards they started using a kind of black powder ink which the masons use to paint floors. Accessories (pipes, pacifiers with strong colors, large silver necklaces and sunglasses) complete the clothes made up of large cotton shorts (in the past, they were made of burlap, painted with mangue de sapateiro ink) and a red gurita (cap). They carry in their hands, a wooden sickle painted black.
The parade (‘invasion’) starts with the group led by the prince of the lambe-sujo and the taqueiros open the way. They receive blessings from the mãe-de-santo in the Saint Barbara Virgin grounds and from the church parish in the church at the central square. They continue throughout the city, printing their hands wherever they go, legitimating hence the ‘invasion’.
The ritual of fight between black and indigenous people in Sergipe land becomes stronger here when the indigenous (caboclinhos) know about the ‘invasion’ of the blacks. The group of caboclinhos gathers in a large number of children and adolescents who use the cabaú honey and the red color to paint their skin. To assemble their clothes they use belts, bracelets and headdresses, bows and arrows. The parade is organized in a line and the members sing songs and play war marches, using the drum and the box as percussion elements.
The two groups go around the city. They have a break for lunch and stop in the place where the feijoada is served. After that, they return to the parade (now, in its last stage), which aggregates other characters, such as the king who comes in combat clothing and leads the group of caboclinhos; and the healer Pai Joá, from the group of lambe-sujos. During the parade they - caboclinhos and lambe-sujos – provoke each other and the tension increases for the final fight. When they get to the banks of the Cotinguiba River, the queen of the indigenous is locked in the tent built by the lambe-sujos on the eve of the party. The indigenous send some commissions to the blacks with an ultimatum to surrender.
The caboclinhos besiege the town and it culminates with the combat re-enactment where there is fight and the lambe-sujos are imprisoned and tied up. Afterwards, they go out asking the population for money to buy their freedom. The party finishes with the burning of the tent.
The folklorist Luís da Câmara Cascudo points to a variant of this party in Alagoas where it is known as Quilombos. There, the ‘lambe-sujos’ (black people) wear a straw hat to cover their head, instead of a cap, and they have a king and a queen. Contrary to the current ritual of the Laranjeiras Party, the queen of the blacks is kidnapped by the caboclinhos. There is no comission to negotiate the rendition. There is dance from the black people singing Samba nêgo / branco não vem cá / se vier /pau há de levar (Dance black man/whites don’t come here/ if you do/ we will beat you), and sword dueling (with the king) and with the sickle (with the other elements of the group). In the end, the caboclinhos enter the ‘quilombo’.
Recife, 27 August 2012.
CÂMARA CASCUDO, Luís da. Lambe-Sujo. In: ______. Dicionário do folclore brasileiro. 4. ed. rev. e aum. São Paulo: Melhoramentos; Brasília: INL, 1979. p. 426-427.
LAMBE-SUJO e Caboclinho. Disponível em: <http://www.conhecasergipe.com.br/folclore_sergipano.asp#parafusos>. Acesso em: 23 ago. 2012.
LAMBE-SUJOS e Caboclinhos. Disponível em: <http://revistaraiz.uol.com.br/portal/index.php?option=comcontent&task=view&id=718&Itemid=181>. Acesso em: 22 ago. 2012.
LIRA, Ana. Sergipe: o embate entre negros e índios. Continente, Recife, ano 10, n. 120, p. 50-57, dez. 2010.
how to quote this text
Source: BARBOSA, Virginia. Lambe-Sujos versus Caboclinhos Party. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescola>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.