Jun 20

The dobrão

The original dobrão, with a value of 20 mil-réis. This was the most valuable coin in the Brazilian colonial era.

A dobrão is the thick coin used to play the berimbau, and mine had gone missing after our street roda. I had others at home... but for capoeiristas, it's more than just a piece of lost property. You develop a certain affinity with your dobrão; it's the part of the berimbau you always carry with you. Baquetas are a dime a dozen, but losing a dobrão is almost like losing a patuá, a protective amulet.

In this ladainha, M. Poloca includes the dobrão among the mystical factors for maintaining acorpo fechado (literally, a "closed body," one that is supernaturally protected):

Eu tenho corpo fechado
Por olho não morro não
Eu tenho meu protetor
Me pegar não é fácil não
Contra faca de ticum
Aprendi uma oração
Sapato com presa dentro
O meu pé não boto não
Não uso roupa dos outros
Nem empresto o meu dobrão
Não como comida alheia
Roupa minha, vendo não
Dia de roda não bebo
Em mulher não ponho a mão
Camará
I have a closed body
I cannot be killed by the evil eye
I have my protector
It's not easy to catch me
Against knives made of ticum
I learned a prayer
A shoe with a bird's claw inside
I do not put on my foot
I don't wear others' clothing
Nor do I lend my dobrão
I don't eat strange food
Nor do I sell my clothes
On the day of a roda, I don't drink
Nor do I touch a woman
Comrade

Do I believe a dobrão has real magical powers?

Not really.

Am I still influenced by the superstition?

You bet.

I’ve had a terrible last couple of days and so yesterday when I found my lost dobrão, I took it as a sign that maybe my luck is turning!

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