This feature is designed to spark your interest in researching the world of capoeira's vocabulary, history, and philosophy.

Our Capoeira Wiki-Word series invites you to research the word of the week and post your definition(s) and translations. At the end of each week, the entries will be reviewed and then summarized into a translation and a definition of the Capoeira Wiki-Word of the week.

Submit your entries in the comments section below!

This week's Capoeira Wiki-Word is:





Don't forget to cite your sources!






To start... From

The atabaque (Brazilian Portuguese: [ataˈbaki], English pronunciation: /ɑːtəˈbɑːkiː/) is a tall, wooden, Afro-Brazilian hand drum. The shell is made traditionally of Jacaranda wood from Brazil. The head is traditionally made from calfskin. A system of ropes are intertwined around the body, connecting a metal ring near the base to the head. Wooden wedges are jammed between this ring and the body and one uses a hammer to tighten or loosen the ropes, raising or lowering the pitch of the drum.

The atabaque is used in Capoeira, Maculelê and the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. It is considered sacred in Candomblé.

There are three types of atabaque:

Rum: Tallest with the lowest sound. Rum-Pi: Medium height, with medium sound. Lê: Shortest with the highest sound.

In Maculelê and the rituals of Candomblé, as many as three atabaques are used (usually one of each type), but in Capoeira, traditionally only one is used.


A side note... by Guatambu

Mestre Bimba did not have an atabaque in his bateria.  The reason I have heard from his students was based on the perception of the instrument as sacred in candomblé.   Mestre Bimba's religion was candomblé, and he was well versed in it.  In a shrewd move for the adoption of capoeira by people of many different walks of life, Mestre Bimba wanted some separation between the worlds of candomblé and capoeira.  He deliberately did not include the atabaque in the bateria of his capoeira academy to avoid any misconceptions about capoeira and candomblé.  Again, this is what I have heard from students of Mestre Bimba, not any quote from the man himself.


Espantalho has some great insights into the drum's roe in African cultutes in the comments section below.


If you are feeling handy, you can try making one yourself...