In today’s Dica, we will learn about a people of extreme importance to Brazil. They have composed Brazilian society since the first decades of Brazil’s colonization. We are talking about the caiçaras! They represent some of the most beautiful attributes of the Brazilian people, depicting respect, admiration, and appreciation of history and heritage. The caiçaras speak and propagate values of resistance and survival.
The Origins of the Caiçaras
Brazil was (and still is!) a country of a lot of miscegenation. From the mixture of indigenous and Europeans (especially the Portuguese), the caboclos were born. From the caboclos union among other caboclos, the caiçaras were born. In addition, the term caiçara is also connected to the location and territory in which these people live.
They live on the coast of the southeast part of Brazil, mainly between the south of Rio de Janeiro, extending to the coast of Paraná. Many caiçaras call themselves amphibious peoples (anfíbios), who live between land and sea, enjoying the wonders of nature, in a relationship of harmony that consists of regard and esteem for everything around them.
One of the most exciting aspects of this relationship is precisely to think that the regions of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the most populous states in Brazil. The caiçaras managed to maintain and resist in their territories, guaranteeing, even more, the propagation of its culture to future generations and keeping their history always alive.
The Caiçaras Live with the Nature
The caiçaras pass their heritage from generation to generation. From great-grandparents to their great-grandchildren, in knowledge and experience passed from father to son. For hundreds of years, the caiçaras learned to interpret and live together with nature.
They derive their livelihood from the environment’s resources, among one of the main activities we can mention fishing — the pescaria, how it is called in Portuguese. From the Caiçara heritage, they learned to build their own canoas, a means of water transport made of wood, which is a vessel that can be very fast, and that many use to carry out their fishing.
In addition to building their canoas from scratch, the caiçara also learn to make their own nets. Besides, they learn from popular tradition, various knowledge about fish and other marine beings in the region. They know the best fishing season for each species, taking care of the mating periods and fishes’ growth; making this activity a sustainable process, which does not harm the environment. The caiçara people only extract from the environment what they need for their own survival, without exaggeration or waste.
But it is not just from the sea that the caiçaras live. They also developed their techniques in the fields and with agricultura. They cultivate mainly mandioca (manioc), milho (corn), cana de açúcar (sugar cane) e feijão (beans). Those ingredients that are part of their cuisine and guarantee their nutritional sustenance. For example, mandioca is a nutritious plant that caiçaras can use for several dishes, such as preparing farofa or the tapioca.
The Caiçaras’ Name
With great care and respect, the caiçaras strive to preserve the heritage and indigenous culture. It has been passed on to them from generation to generation, in an ancient knowledge that crosses time. The caiçaras are descendants of a variety of different indigenous peoples, such for example, the Tupinambás. The word caiçara itself comes from a Tupi-Guarani term, the word caa-içara, which means: caa: branches and sticks and içara: trap.
Caiçara can refer to a style of fishing, which consists of setting up a fish trap, the armadilha para os peixes, most of the time made of bamboo, and it also is the name given to the type of fence that the indigenous would set up to protect their villages, which was made of branches and sticks. It is believed that in São Paulo, the people began to assign this term to those who lived close to the sea and survive from it.
The Caiçara Vocabulary Game
What do you think of practicing some of this new vocabulary with a fun game? Learn Portuguese by dragging and dropping keywords, so they are all next to the correct description:
There you go guys! We have just learned about the caiçara people, another important character in the history of Brazil! We hope you liked this Dica, and stay tuned daily! If you are in Rio de Janeiro, come to our school, meet our teachers and learn Portuguese with us!