Shrovetide scene in a street in Rio de Janeiro, portrayed by Jean Jean-Baptiste Debret – Photo: Reproduction

Shrovetide It sounds like a bad word, but it's just the name of the precursor party of Carnival in Brazil. Inspired by medieval practices, the entrudo had nothing to do with the masked balls of Europe. In Rio de Janeiro, revelers took to the streets to wet and smear others, at first with lemons, as the wax balls filled with perfumed water, produced especially for the occasion, were called.

The problem is that instead of lemons, some splashed other liquids, such as currants, coffee and even pee. To complete, they threw flour, flour or other powder that they had on hand. In the streets, the carnival was a game that brought together only freed slaves or blacks. One of the best known images of the party is the watercolor Carnival scene, 1823, by the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Debret.

Debret not only painted the watercolor, but described the image in the book Picturesque and Historical Travel to Brazil: “The scene takes place at the door of a store, installed as usual on a corner. The black woman sacrifices everything to balance her basket, already full of provisions that she brings for her masters, while the boy, with a can of serine in his hand, throws a jet of water that floods her and causes one last accident in this carnival catastrophe”.

Part of the elite also celebrated, but indoors, as shown by Earle’s engraving – Photo: Reproduction

“Sitting at the door of the store, an even older black woman, a seller of lemons and flour, already smeared, with her tray on her knees, holds the money for the lemons paid in advance, which a black boy, voluntarily tattooed with yellow clay, chooses, as enthusiastic champion of prospective fights”, continued Debret.

It was up to another renowned artist, the Englishman Augustus Earle, to leave among his legacy an engraving (believed to be from 1822) about the Carnival among members of the elite of the time. This is because part of the elite also joined in the game, but at home. Considered violent and offensive, Shrovetide was banned in the mid-XNUMXth century.
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