The upper Jequitinhonha Valley was settled because of its mineral wealth, as evidenced by the names of many of its towns: Turmalina, Berilo, Rubelita, and Diamantina. Gold was found at the beginning of the 18th century. Shortly after, diamonds were found. The district was then sealed and administered under tight control by the Portuguese crown. Within this confined cloister the region developed a distinctive Afro-Brazilian culture. When the deposits of gold and diamonds were exhausted, the area gradually fell into economic decline. Today much of the Jequitinhonha Valley’s economy is based on the planting of eucalyptus, used mainly to provide fuel for the steel industry. The valley’s residents find their lands made ever more desolate by this voraciously thirsty crop in an already arid land.
The wealth of the region is in the hearts of its people and their traditions, including their music and dance, as well as some of the finest crafts in Brazil.
To experience the traditional regional music and dance try to time a visit during one of the Congado festivals. The celebrations derive from African coronation festivals with European elements and are devoted to the traditional protector of blacks in Brazil, Our Lady of the Rosary, and to various black saints, especially Saint Benedict the Moor and Saint Ephigenia. The celebrations involve singing, dancing, drumming, street processions, live bands, and general revelry.
In addition to the ...(Continuar Lendo)
One of Brazil’s culturally richest regions, the Jequitinhonha Valley in Minas Gerais, is also among its economically poorest; so poor in fact that two of its principal cities, Araçuaí and Itinga,