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Congada (also called congado or congo), a Brazilian folk dance and music form of African, Portuguese, and Spanish origin. First observed among African slaves during the late seventeenth century, the congada is a processional dance, fusing elements of Iberian popular drama and Catholicism with African indigenous ceremonies. Dressed as members of the royal court, the participants of the congada enact such themes as military victory and the crowning of Queen Nginga Nbandi of Angola.

While the congada is indigenous to central and southern Brazil, the congo is found in the northern sections of the country. Because women were historically excluded from participating in the congo, the coronation theme has centered around King Henrique. In the congo procession dancers sing to the sounds of drums, chocalhos, pandeiros, and violas.

Congadas are observed during the Christmas season and are often enacted throughout the year depending upon region and symbolic significance. Although the congada originated among African slaves, it has been known to include Indian participants who have incorporated their own native dances. According to scholars the congada, despite its distinctly African thematic and stylistic influences, is a uniquely Brazilian art form; no performances of the congada have been found on the African continent.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


Gilbert Chase, The Music of Spain, 2d rev. ed. (1959).

David P. Appleby, The Music of Brazil (1983).

Chris Mc Gowan and Ricardo Pessanha, The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Kinn, Marli Graniel. "Negros congadeiros e a cidade costumes e tradicóes nos lugares e nas redes da congada de Uberlandia-MG." M.A. Diss. São Paulo, 2006.

Souza, Marina de Mello e. Reis negros no Brasil escravista: História da festa de coroacão de rei congo. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG, 2002.

                                John Cohassey