Possibly the most emblamatic of all Capoeira Songs, Paranauê is a song that every Capoeirista must know.

Despite consiting of only one word, when I first heard the song and tried to sing along with the chrous, I was singing “Banana way…”, oops.

So what does Paranauê actually mean?

As with pretty much all capoeira history, no one really knows for sure the exact origin of the song.

Paranauê Version 1

Panaorama of the River Paraná by Luis Argerich from Buenos Aires, Argentina [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
O Río Paraná is a huge river in South America which crosses Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, forming the border between the later two countries. It is the second largest river in South America after the Amazon.

Etymologically, the word Paraná omes from the indigenous Tupi Guarani langage and means “Like the sea/As big as the sea”.

Paranauê is a contraction of Paraná with the Tupi Guarani greeting Auê.

This river has special signicance for capoeira, due to the Paraguayan War 1864 to 1870 which was one of the largest and bloodiest wars of South American history, fought between the triple alliance of Brazil, Aregenina and Uruguay, against Paraguay.

Brazil sent many slaves to fight in the war with Paraguay, promising that when (if!) they returned they would be emancipated and could live as free men.

Those lucky enough to survive the war returned to Brazil from Paraguay following the River Paraná, and sang the song in celebration. Many of fighters acredited their survival to having trained capoeira.

“Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná                                   “Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná                
vou mi bora desta terra                                             I am leaving this land
eu aqui não volto mais paraná                                  Here, I’ll never return, Paraná
“Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná                                    “Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná 
eu aqui não sou querido                                            Here I am not loved,
mas na minha terra sou , paraná”                            But in my Land I am, Paraná”

Paranaué Version 2

The second version gives credit to the creation of the song to Mestre Genaro. Apparently one day his friend Mestre Paraná (Osvaldo Lisboa dos Santos) did not appear at the roda of Mestre Arthur Emídio, where he was expected.

Mestre Genaro spontaneously began to sing “Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná! ê cadê você Paraná, Paraná ê, Paraná…”

The second story not quite so romantic as the first! Quite possibly it’s more accurate though…?

Which is correct?

Maybe it just took Mestre Genaro to invent the unmistakable melody for the chorus, which was then combined with the original verses referring to the war.

Perhaps it could be that this combination of a great tune, with the history and emotion of the story, that made Paranauê such a classic?

Whether the verses really date back to the 19th Century, or were composed later will remain a mystery.

If you take the time, however, to read about the war (which was truly horrific), and imagine the story of a slave, sent to a brutal war to fight for his oppressors, who has survied all odds and is returning as a free man thanks to his capoeira training, it will surely give the song new meaning!

Paranaué Common Lyrics and English Translation

(It is very common for experienced capoeiristsas to improvise the verses to this song, but below are some of the more common, traditional lines).

Vou dizer minha mulher, Paraná (I’m going to tell my wife)
Capoeira me venceu, Paraná (Capoeira saved me)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

Vou me embora pra favela, Paraná (I’m going now to the favela)
Como já disse que vou, Paraná (As I already said I’d go)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

E desvera que o morro, Paraná (And deserves that the hill)
Se mudou para cidade, Paraná (Changes for the City)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

Vou me embora dessa terra, Paraná (I go now from this land)
Como já disse que vou, Paraná (As I already said I’ll go)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

Eu aqui não sou querido, Paraná (Here I am not loved)
Mas na minha terra eu sou, Paraná (But in my land I am)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

Cantando com alegria, Paraná (Singing with joy)
Mocidade es que mata, Paraná (Youth is what kills)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

O enfeite de uma mesa, Paraná (The decoration of a table)
É um garfo e uma colher, Paraná (Is a fork and a spoon)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

O enfeite de uma cama, Paraná (The decoration of a bed)
É um homem e uma mulher, Paraná (Is a man and a woman)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná

Mulher pra ser bonita, Paraná (A woman, to be beautiful)
Não precisa se pintar, Paraná (Doesn’t need make up)

Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná
Paranauê, paranauê, Paraná



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3 thoughts on “Paranauê, Paraná – Capoeira Song Lyrics, Meaning and English Translation”

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