||If you ask Abel Teixeira whether he makes masks he will deny it.
“I make ‘caretas’ (funny or ugly face), which is what Cazumba wears in the Ox festival.” Born in 1939, in Viana (MA), he started taking part in the Ox festivals from a very early age.
“The careta used to be made of fabric, and the oldest ones were also made with babaçu palm fibre. The costumes were made of old fabric, or straw, and were very simple. Anything would do, because the most important thing was to play. We were the artists.”
Abel has lost count of how many caretas he has made. “They have even taken me to Europe. But Cazumba will always be local. He is the one who plays the most. The careta made of wood started because I found them beautiful. I heard about festivals that featured other animals, like jaguars, so I decided to make a careta of wood, with the face of a dog. A friend of mine saw it and the following year he made one just like it, so we could wear them together to the party. At first only the mouth was made of wood, later the entire face, but to be honest I wear the fabric ones to the festival. The wooden ones are just for decoration. Now, living in the city, I miss all the rituals. We had a great time. Nowadays the Ox groups perform in two or three places on the same day, so it’s tiring.”