The Tailors' Revolt

Carybé (Hector Julio Páride Bernabó), "Bahia", 1971.


Comment on the book “Esconjuro!”, by Luís Pimentel

Few Brazilians know in any depth the Conjuração Baiana, which bears the poetic (and somewhat derogatory) name of Revolta dos Alfaiates, due to the large participation of artisans, small traders, shoemakers and tailors. For intimates, it was the Revolta dos Búzios, an identification code for the participants, who wore a small buzio tied around their wrists.

The independence movement, promoted in Salvador in 1798, had a great difference in relation to the Inconfidência Mineira, which had taken place a few years earlier (1792): the large participation of blacks and mulattos. The great value given to Tiradentes and his colleagues, and the historical contempt for the four Bahian martyrs (Lucas Dantas, Manoel Faustino, Luís Gonzaga and João de Deus) says something about the current racism in our country. All were hanged and quartered, but only the miner became a “saint”, being idealized as a kind of Christ in the graphic representations (all absurd, by the way).

The Baiana Conjuration, in addition to wanting independence from Portugal, preached the end of slavery. Here came the news of the first successful revolt of slaves, in Haiti, against French rule (1794). Leaflets placed in churches in Salvador by the conspirators announced: “Take heart, people of Bahia! The happy time of our freedom is about to arrive, the time when we will all be brothers, the time when we will all be equal!”.

The miners did not reach such boldness. Their issue was the collection of taxes, so that everyone could continue to keep their slaves safe. They were liberals, shall we say. This made it easier for them to be sung in prose and verse, becoming national symbols. And, in the literary field, few homages were as successful as the Romance of Inconfidence, by Cecília Meireles.

Because the Bahian-carioca Luís Pimentel decided to approach the Revolta dos Alfaiates, creating a hybrid work I banish!, which uses several languages. It aligns historical facts with fictional characters, proposes a beautiful dialogue with Daniel Viana's illustrations and creates situations mixed with theater and poetry, closer to Northeastern roots than to Cecília's mimetic erudition. No wonder the subtitle of the book is “the rope and the string”, a reference to the gallows and the popular form of poetic expression.

The great ideologue of the Revolt, Cipriano Barata, was a fervent supporter of the ideals of the French Revolution. Doctor in Surgery, Philosophy and Mathematics from the University of Coimbra, Freemason, he was a great propagandist of independence, founding opposition newspapers, exchanging ideas with Frei Caneca in Pernambuco, passing through several prisons in Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. But he was white and a doctor, so he was left with the string. For your fellow blacks, the rope.

Pimentel skilfully outlines the profile of this and other characters, invents a few more, emphasizes the participation of women in the movement and produces an original work that mainly encourages young people (for whom the book is intended) to learn more about history. More than that: it crosses timeless poetic references (Gregório de Matos, Dorival Caymmi), alternates narrative voices and creates a captivating narrative, where the pleasure of reading is mixed with intimate revolt against the injustices of the world.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.


Louis Pimentel. I banish!: the rope and the twine in the Revolt of the Tailors. Foreword: Chico Alencar. Rio de Janeiro, Editora Pallas, 2021, 88 pages.

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