The thesis of my research on Portuguese literary and folkloric traditions in Asia, initiated in Sri Lanka in , is that oral texts and music carried on Portuguese ships are indicators of culture, as theorized by Loman and Halifaz , and played a key role in creating and preserving a distinct Indo-Portuguese cultural expression, developed through decades of contact.
The resulting folklore text, defined following Elizabeth C. Fine as an interplay or translation between performance and print medium, spread throughout Indo-Portuguese society promoting new forms of cultural identity and social cohesion. The verses, stories, proverbs, riddles, and music that characterize Indo-Portuguese culture represent a syncretism of Portuguese, African, and Asian source materials. That such groups identified with Portuguese, as Ian R. Smith notes, 8 was not unusual considering that the Portuguese occupied the apex of the social order.
What was obscured by the simulacrum of Portuguese civilization, in the enigma of a new Afro-Asian paradigm, however, was an identity that crossed categories, belonging neither wholly to one or to another. Sri Lankan sociologist Michael Roberts studied his country's population of 'Burghers' as "people in between," who did not fit into any national context or category save their own. On a generic level, the term 'Indo-Portuguese folklore text' refers to a unified body of materials, still only partially collected, that constitutes a system of culture which is the expressive tradition over time of Portuguese communities throughout Asia.
Asian contacts opened a profound difference in the boundaries of Portuguese identity. Forts lining the Malabar coast of India maintained a maritime commerce stretching from Mozambique to China bread, porcelain, opium, indigo, coconuts, cinnamon, pepper, drugs, cloves, woven cotton, gold, ivory, African slaves and supported mixed communities of Portuguese settlers, Muslims, blacks, local Christians, and Hindus.
The characteristic population of the important city of Chaul was described by Bocarro in In a study of Sri Lanka Portuguese, Smith notes that by the early seventeenth century a Portuguese-based pidgin was in use in the littoral. Creole communities had formed, made up of Eurasians, 'topazes' mestizos , and East Africans for whom the Portuguese used the spurious Arabic term 'cafres' [kaffirs] , who brought a different Portuguese pidgin with them.
Children of Portuguese 'casados' would have been introduced to the pidgin or creolized language by black domestic servants, some of whom had been slaves in Goa.
When the Portuguese fort in the Batticaloa lagoon surrendered on the 18th of April , the Dutch Admiral Willem Jacobsz Coster found seven hundred inhabitants, described as fifty Portuguese and mestizos and the rest blacks, women, and children. Distinct groups of Dutch and Portuguese 'Burghers' in Batticaloa who spoke the creole joined together only in the last century, according to local Church records. Two principal points can be made about Eurasian Portuguese creole-speaking groups and their languages.
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First, the pidginized or creolized Portuguese dialects that were the mother tongues of these groups spread rapidly across Asia in the s and were used as the language of social intercourse, and often of religious and legal practices, in Dutch and English colonial societies up to the early twentieth century. The colloquial Anglo-Indian terms and etymologies studied by Yule and Burnell reveal an extensive influence and knowledge of Portuguese vocabulary.
The following creolized Indo-Portuguese folk quatrain sung in Sri Lanka, from the Hugh Nevill manuscript collection L in the British Library, represents the fusion of cultures and languages under the sign of maritime voyages:. My arm becomes a sail" The Portuguese language, undergoing creolization with contact languages in Africa and Asia, began to function as a lingua franca for commerce, domestic life, and religion, loaning extensive vocabulary to all the contact and related languages: chave key , vidro glass , camisa shirt , mesa table , alfinete pin , etc.
The only documents that will longer defy the action of time are coins. But when coins too shall have perished then the verbal tokens which have enriched the languages of the East shall still continue to exist and stand as witnesses to the Portuguese domination and influence of these parts in the past.
Cantigas Santa Maria by Alfonso Sabio
The lasting Portuguese contribution to Asian civilizations consists of the creation of a distinct Luso-Asian people, still largely unrecognized, whose language, cultural history, and identity is the product of cross-fertilization of European, African, and Asian sources. Malayan dutchese" Portuguese culture in Asia stems both from oral and written materials. Syncretism with African and Asian languages and cultures contributed structure, lexicon, and context to the growth of Indo-Portuguese dialects. Creolized verses, usually called 'cantigas' by the performers, reflected this diversity as a prominent aesthetic form of community expression.
Folk 'cantigas' are sung and danced with instrumental ensembles. Themes of the quatrains in creolized verse reflect meaningful cycles and rituals of Indo-Portuguese community life: A beautiful handmaiden" All are low caste" Until the priest marries them" Beats her breast wanting to die" I will carry you off' You will have a bad name" To sit down before us" Performance of creole verse by and within the group gives meaning to the celebration, reenactment, and renewal of community life.
Cantigas da Lua – Livraria Ler devagar
In the first half of the sixteenth century, Indo-Portuguese folklore texts spread to communities along the Indian coasts, then extended beyond Ceylon to Malacca, the Moluccas or Spice Islands, Macao, and Japan. Verses collected throughout the Indo-Portuguese world attest to the coherence of the folk text as a new Eurasian discourse. Sung to celebrate and to reaffirm identity, Indo-Portuguese verses cover the full range of the above mentioned themes of community life, exemplified by widely diverse examples. The extensive 'cancioneiro' of the blacks in Portuguese India celebrates birth in Dio,.
Verses of courtship reminiscent of the medieval 'cantiga de amigo' are subtly illustrated by Moniz's transcription from Daman, Oh!
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The motif of the golden ring was identified by the author in as a surviving fragment from the Iberian ballad known as Bela Infanta:. Misfortunes of love and poverty reflect both the pride and the low economic status of Indo-Portuguese people:. Above all, the folklore text is a constant invitation to the pleasure of the song, whose performance is both celebration and memory, novelty and reenactment:.
Indian west coast communities are a rich historical repository for Indo-Portuguese language, arts, and culture. The ancient port of Chaul, fifty six kilometres south of Bombay, became an important Portuguese trading and religious center in In the village of Korlai, settled in south of the Kundalika River near the ruins of 'Morro de Chaul' fort, when all the Portuguese who could afford to leave went to Goa, the existence of a lively creole Portuguese still spoken after another two hundred and fifty years came to light through contacts by Mitterwallner and Theban in the s and s.
In addition to its creole verse, the village is a repository of folk tales, extensively collected by J. Clancy Clements in Dressed to kill" Smith states to be the case in Batticaloacreole speech is commonly used in Dio, Daman, and in the village of Korlai, near the fort of Chaul Revdanda, Kolaba district , with vestiges in the Vypeen Island area of Cochin. A large ensemble in Daman recreates the songs of sailors returning to port singing of Luzi Maria da Luz :. Porto-Indian communities are now isolated or forgotten--Korlai, Daman, Vypeen--and speak with unrecognizable or dislocated voices from a remote past whose cultural history combines Portugal with India:.
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A Portuguese lady" The Indo-Portuguese practiced a religious and musical culture, rich in arts and architecture. It was a courtship dance by ladies using Chinese or Malay dress and accompanied by an earthenware drum. Miguel Vicente Abreu published verses satirizing use of the balloon skirt in Goan ballrooms:. Small musical ensembles accompanying songs in creole verse and dance are a sure sign of Indo-Portuguese peoples in Asia.
Even angels sculpted in ceilings of Daman's churches are playing string instruments. I come to marry you" Sri Lankan language, culture, and religion were decisively influenced by Portuguese rule in all areas except the Kandyan Kingdom from the late sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries, a presence still visible in widespread use of Portuguese surnames.
Ria Lemaire takes a novel reading of the context and the meaning of these cantigas as expressions of an oral tradition that is kept alive in the original territory and in the other places where it arrive, either by processes of colonization or taken by immigrants later.
In the musical focus the Brazilian singer-songwriter Socorro Lira, together with Portuguese-speaking artists, tackles a contemporary ready of the melody of the cantigas integrating Galician, Portuguese, African and especially Brazilian sonorities; spaces that share the cultural heritage of Galician-Portuguese lyrical tradition. Arranged by Jorge Ribas, Colors of the Atlantic integrates the sonorities of three continents united by a common cultural heritage: the lyrical tradition of Galician-Portuguese cantigas de amigo.
From Brazil, the singer-composer Socorro Lima brings together traditional voices such as those of Cirandeiras de Caiana de Crioulos together with the collaboration of Margareth Menezes, Maga and Cida Moreira. The artist Quique Bordell from Lugo makes his artistic contribution with illustrations that combine collage and superimposition in a Vanguardist proposal about the lyrics of the cantigas de amigo. Contactar PNO nos medios. Ponte… nas Ondas!
Dr S R Parkinson
Share on Facebook. A literary work The theoretical argumentation about the origin of an oral tradition sustained by women is a thesis defended by a specialist in medieval literature in Romance languages who received her doctorate from Utrecht University, Ria Lemaire.
A musical work In the musical focus the Brazilian singer-songwriter Socorro Lira, together with Portuguese-speaking artists, tackles a contemporary ready of the melody of the cantigas integrating Galician, Portuguese, African and especially Brazilian sonorities; spaces that share the cultural heritage of Galician-Portuguese lyrical tradition.