Maranhão’s Bumba Meu Boi now cultural heritage of humanity

It is the sixth Brazilian item to make the international list

Published in 12/12/2019 - 13:44 By Agência Brasil - Brasília

The Bumba Meu Boi cultural complex of the Brazilian state of Maranhão was hailed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity, during a meeting in Bogota, Colombia, on Wednesday (Dec. 11). The celebration was unanimously acknowledged with honors by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

“Bumba Meu Boi from Maranhão consists in a cultural complex encompassing a range of styles and a diversity of groups, as it forges an intrinsic link between faith, festivities, and art, based on the devotion to the saints of the festas juninas, the belief in divinities of African origin and in the local cosmogony and legends,” Unesco reported.

A Câmara dos Deputados realiza sessão solene em homenagem ao Dia do Bumba Meu Boi.
Bumba Meu Boi from Maranhão consists in a cultural complex encompassing a range of styles and a diversity of groups - Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

Hermano Queiroz, director at the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage, Iphan, described Bumba Meu Boi as one of the most important expressions in Brazil and now the whole world. In 2011, the Bumba Meu Boi cultural complex of Maranhão attained countrywide recognition, and an application was filed for Unesco’s list a year later.

“This diversity is organized across ten touristic aspects, each having its natural, cultural, and architectural branches. Bumba Meu Boi portrays all of this diversity, because it brings together goods under a single expression: musical and theatrical performances, design, and handicraft. It summarizes all of the cultural wealth our country has,” sad Tourism Minister Marcelo Álvaro Antônio.

The decision bolsters existing initiatives and should promote heritage education actions, expand documentation efforts, and foster research and local culture.

The complex is the sixth Brazilian item to make the international list, along with oral and graphic expressions of the Wajapi (2003), the samba de roda of the Recôncavo of Bahia (2005), frevo: performing arts of the Carnival of Recife (2012), the Círio de Nazaré (the taper of Our Lady of Nazareth) (2013), and the Capoeira circle (2014).

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Fernando Fraga / Nira Foster

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