Capoeira Angola listed as UNESCO Intangible Heritage

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian cultural practice – simultaneously a fight and a dance – that can be interpreted as a tradition, a sport and even an art form. Capoeira players form a circle at the centre of which two players engage with one another. The movements require great bodily dexterity. The other players around the circle sing, chant, clap and play percussive instruments. Capoeira circles are formed by a group of people of any gender, and comprise a master, counter-master and disciples. The master is the bearer and guardian of the knowledge of the circle, and is expected to teach the repertoire and to maintain the group’s cohesion and its observance to a ritual code. The master usually plays a single string percussion instrument, starts the chants, and leads the game’s timing and rhythm. All participants are expected to know how to make and play the instrument, sing a shared repertoire of chants, improvise songs, know and respect the codes of ethics and conduct, and perform the movements, steps and strikes. The capoeira circle is a place where knowledge and skills are learned by observation and imitation. It also functions as an affirmation of mutual respect between communities, groups and individuals and promotes social integration and the memory of resistance to historical oppression.

Criteria for inscription on the Representative List

In nomination files, the submitting State(s) Party(ies) is (are) requested to demonstrate that an element proposed for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity satisfies all of the following criteria:

  • R.1 The element constitutes intangible cultural heritage as defined in Article 2 of the Convention.
  • R.2 Inscription of the element will contribute to ensuring visibility and awareness of the significance of the intangible cultural heritage and to encouraging dialogue, thus reflecting cultural diversity worldwide and testifying to human creativity.
  • R.3 Safeguarding measures are elaborated that may protect and promote the element.
  • R.4 The element has been nominated following the widest possible participation of the community, group or, if applicable, individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.
  • R.5 The element is included in an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage present in the territory(ies) of the submitting State(s) Party(ies), as defined in Article 11 and Article 12 of the Convention.

Quoted from ‘Capoeira Circle’, UNESCO.org: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00892