The armorial movement was born as an artistic initiative that created an elaborate art fed by the elements of the folk culture of the Brazilian northeast. The movement emerged so representatively of the entire regional culture that it grouped artistic expressions from music, dance, literature, plastic arts, theater, cinema and architecture. Although it began in the university world, the movement gained support from the city’s (Recife) and state’s (Pernambuco) government. The movement was born officially, in Recife, on October 18, 1970, with a concert and an exposition of plastic arts.
Open fair of Caruaru: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIHz4sh1lHs
The great mentor of the entire movement was the Brazilian writer and Professor, Ariano Suassuna. Suassuna poetically defined Brazilian Armorial Art as one connected to the magical spirit of “cordeis,” a local form of publicly displaying texts and images via sheets of paper connected by a cord. “Cordeis” are displayed in public at fairs, or in Brazilian Portuguese “feiras livres,” meaning open fairs, i.e. markets in open public space. These fairs also involve the sale of sculpture, painting, folkloric crafts, and many other things. They are really wonderful and often are accompanied by music. This music usually is the northeast’s folkloric “Romanceiro.” This style of music includes a viola, fiddle and maybe a flute, sometimes with singing. A key aspect of the “cordeis” is the book cover which often reveals the spirit and performance of folk presentations related with this same “Romanceiro.”.
The great aim of the armorial movement has been to increase respect, preservation and interest in our regional folk culture, making the popular culture of the Brazilian northeast region the object of study, knowledge and learning.
The term “armorial” originally indicated the collections of noble family’s crests and insignias, being, therefore, a noun referring to specific objects. However, its use as an adjective, to qualify a specific kind of art, was justified by Ariano Suassuna. He said that this term is connected with the colors and figures of these collections of insignias, with fabulous animals, surrounded by leaves, suns, moons and stars. By this way, kind of serious and at the same time joking he began to say that some poetry or song was “armorial”, which means, a poetry or song that shined in pure, metallic and colored enamels such as a flag from a noble family’s coat or the melody of a clarion.
The most intense and expressive moment of the Armorial movement was during the 70’s. Now, 30 years later, the Armorial movement still breaths inside of each artistic product from its members, including my father Miguel dos Santos.