Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Zé Pelintra - A Brazilian Saint of the Streets

Seu Zé Pelintra is a modern day Brazilian Nkuyu. In Kongo traditions, the nkuyu is a spirit which may be worked with as either an ancestor or a spirit of the environment who often was at one time a living person. While in Africa, these were often spirits who resided in the forest, in the diaspora, especially in contemproary Brazil, these entities have adapted to the urban and suburban environments in which the marginalized blacks and other poor live. This type of entity is called Malandro, which is usually translated as Bohemian, is an artistic, stylistic outsider, who lives a pleasure driven and non-conventional lifestyle. First appearing in a Catimbó song collected by the MPF folklorists in 1938 in Paraíba from mestre Manuel Laurentino da Silva, Zé pelintra has spread from being a Northeastern Spirit of Catimbó (an Afro-Indian religion) to being found in most Afro-Brazilian religions today. He is most widely known in Umbanda and Quimbanda, traditions in which he appeared somewhat later and continues to be popular as both a Caboclo spirit and as an Exú spirit, and is called upon for both good and ill.

In Life, Zé Pelintra loved to drink, smoke fine cigars and cigarettes, play cards, in fact one form of divining with cards is credited to him, and kept the company of women of the street. He is called upon to resolve love affairs, for luck with money and is an ardent protector of women. He is closely associated with Santo Antonio de Padua, who was widely known as "Santo Antonio, o santo Congo".

Many stories of his life include violent encounters with the police in which he annihilated all his opponents only to escape capture. He was famous as a capoeirista. One story common in Rio is that he died when he was crushed by a trolley car he was trying to jump on sometime in the 1920s. Shortly after his death he began to possess various mediums in macumba rites, and eventually became one of the most beloved spirits in Umbanda and Quimbanda. His figure was the inspritation for Chico Barque's widely successful Opera do Malandro, set in Rio de Janeiro and which was based upon Brecht's Three Penny Opera. Zé Pelintra even provided the inspiration for the character Jose Carioca in Walt Disney's 1944 animated film, The Three Caballeros.

Recognized for his distinctive white suit, red tie, red hatband and often wearing a red flower in his lapel or jacket pocket, Zé Pelintra is a powerful spirit who is called upon and loved by many. He is renouned for performing many miracles.

Sarava Seu Zé Pelintra!

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9:25 PM  
Blogger CLAUDIA said...

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8:45 PM  
Blogger Luciana said...

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Blogger Sancista Brujo Luis said...

I find it beautiful how its similar to Sanse, which is often called Puerto Rican Umbanda, many similarities.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Camila said...

Saravá seu Zé! Estamos pensando em mudar para os EUA, que bom saber que há templos por aí!!

5:15 PM  

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