This year marked the fifth meeting of the Mestres do Mundo, the Masters of the World, an event where “masters of culture” from small towns are invited by the Ceará state government and other organizations to share their work, take pride in their skills as musicians, dancers, poets, actors, and artisans, and meet one another to form a community of regional culture bearers. People who are given the title, “master of culture,” also receive a salary from the state. The four-day event took place in the town of Limoeiro do Norte, and journalists, college students, scholars, and people taking advantage of the St. Joseph’s Day three-day weekend saw the masters of culture in action. Every morning, the masters performed. In the afternoons, they talked about their lives in one lecture hall, while folklore scholars from Fortaleza lectured and debated about regional culture in another. The theme of the multi-session academic symposium couldn’t have been more appropriate for my research: “Preserving the Environment, Humanity, and Culture,” and there was even a lecture on the role of drought in cantoria, a kind of regional music. Every night, huge concerts were held in the town square, with musical acts from around Brazil.
In Ceará, it is generally believed that if it doesn’t rain by São José—St. Joseph’s Day—it will be a dry winter. At the end of a lecture about the relationship between the environment and pottery making, it began to pour outside, raining for one of the first times all season; coincidentally, it was on São José. The professor shouted, “Chuva, meu povo! São José!” (Rain, my people! St. Joseph!) And everyone began to applaud.
Here’s my video of the event:
And a few of my photos: