Seven years after receiving the title of Cultural Heritage of Brazil, the Bumba-Meu-Boi Cultural Complex, one of the most outstanding cultural manifestations of the state of Maranhão, is poised to receive international recognition.

Last April 5th, the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (Iphan) presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) the application dossier for the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The title is conferred by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). Learn more about Bumba-Meu-Boi:

What is it?

The Bumba-meu-boi is a presentation that mixes playfulness, music, dance and performing arts. Participants dramatise the story of characters Father Francisco and his pregnant wife, Mother Catirina. Father Francisco steals the tongue of one of the oxen of

the farm where he worked to satisfy Catirina’s craving, but the owner of the ox ends up forgiving the worker for the theft after faith healers recover the health of the ox. The story ends with a party to celebrate the happy ending.

Cultural Wealth

The cultural manifestation is so rich in expressions that the Bumba-Meu-Boi is considered a Cultural Complex, since it comprises multiples styles, groups, and elements of Maranhão’s culture. It also congregates elements such as faith, celebration, art, devotion to Catholic saints, belief in Afro-Brazilian religious entities and legends.

The application dossier presented by Iphan highlights that “the cultural manifestation, which brings with it a symbolic charge that reproduces the cycle of life (birth, life and death), is a metaphor for human existence itself.


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