Who was Tia Ciata

Hilária Batista de Almeida (Aunt Ciata ou Aciata)

Hilária Batista de Almeida was born in Santo Amaro, Recôncavo Baiano, on January 13, 1854. At the age of 16 she participated in the foundation of the Irmandade da Boa Morte [Sisterhood of the Good Death], in Cachoeira, Bahia. The sisterhood still exists. Daughter of the African goddess Oxum, Ciata was initiated in the Candomblé religion at the house of Bambochet, from the Ketu nation. At the age of 22, bringing a daughter with her, Ciata arrived at Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro, where she formed a new family after marrying João Baptista da Silva, a public servant with whom she had 14 children. She continued the precepts of Candomblé at the house of João Alabá, as “Mãe Pequena” (the second most important person in a Candomblé house after the Ialorixá or Babalorixá). In Rio de Janeiro she initially lived close to Pedra do Sal, then at João Inácio alley, 304, Alfândega Street, General Pedra Street, Cajueiros Street and later – between 1899 and 1924 - at Visconde de Itaúna street, in the neighborhood of Cidade Nova (“New Town”). Tia Ciata was one of the “aunts” responsible for the sedimentation of samba in Rio de Janeiro (the so called “samba carioca”) and became a sort of first lady of the black communities of Little Africa.

Her last house was a tenement with 6 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, a long corridor and a backyard with trees (at least one avocado tree). Notwithstanding, part of the family continued to live at Alfândega Street: it was there that her grandson, the musician and composer Bucy Moreira was born in 1909. Ciata’s wish, however, was for her grandson to be born at the big house of Visconde de Itaúna Street.

Few months later, Moreira moved with his family to Minervina Street, near Praça Onze. Visconde de Itaúna street disappeared when President Vargas Avenue was opened.

A Woman of Great Initiative

Ciata made her life a constant work and became - with other aunts from Bahia - one of the pioneers of the tradition of “quituteiras” [Black women foodstreet sellers] in Rio de Janeiro, with their ornate clothes, necklaces and bracelets, developing an activity surrounded by strong religious influences.

Tias Baianas as entrepreneurs

In this context, Bahian aunts Ciata, Bebiana, Monica, Carmen, Perciliana and Amélia - among others - stood out in different kinds of organization and influence over the community. Thus, these women have received acknowledgement and respect for their central position in “terreiros” [candomblé sacred meeting places] and for their participation in ensuring the preservation of African traditions. Such traditions have been always reinvented and have contributed to open new possibilities for the revitalization of the city. The aunts transformed their houses around Praça Onze into points of reference and community life.

Innovative and criative

Tia Ciata also started to make and rent refined Bahian clothes, for plays and rich people who looked for fancy costumes for the carnival. Ciata’s passing, in 1924, was a milestone in the process of affirming the presence of the black population in the city's cultural and social life.

Religiosity and Samba

A famous “Mãe de Santo”, Tia Ciata praised both her Orixás and catholic feasts such as those dedicated to São Cosme and Damião and Nossa Senhora da Conceição.

At “partido-alto” samba parties, her skills as “partideira” were highlighted, and her grandson Bucy Moreira learned from her the secret of “miudinho”, a dancing style in which the feet move very close to each other, in a way that dexterity and elegance are required.

Right after the religious ceremonies, which were preceded by a Christian mass, musicians and capoeiras friends of the house set up a “pagode” with guitars, tambourines, ganzás and a lot of samba. Tia Ciata, a respected “partideira”, did not let samba die, providing that the pots were always warm and sometimes promoting in her house soirées with “chorões”, “maxixes” and dancing balls in the front hall. And in the backyard, a nice samba, always ended with a candomblé ceremony.

Famous samba players and composers at Tia Ciata’s house

Some people did go to another famous samba of the time - that of João Alabá – but it is certain that many preferred Tia Ciata’s new house at Visconde de Itaúna street, strategically located near Praça Onze and close to the headquarters of two carnival societies: “Paladinos da Cidade Nova” recreational society, and later “Kananga do Japão” (founded as “rancho” in 1910). And by "many" we really mean it: in the twenty years or so that Ciata lived in Cidade Nova, other famous Bahian aunts frequented her home such as Tia Dadá, Tia Amelia (Donga's mother), Tia Prisciliana (João da Baiana’s mother), Tia Veridiana (Chico da Baiana’s mother), Tia Josefa Rica and Tia Tomásia. Also journalist Vagalume, actor Alfredo de Albuquerque and important names of the Brazilian popular music such as Hilário Jovino Ferreira, Donga, Pixinguinha, João da Baiana, Heitor dos Prazeres, Sinhô, Caninha, Didi da Gracinda, Marinho que Toca (father of the composer Getúlio Marinho), Mauro de Almeida, João da Mata, João Câncio, Getúlio da Praia , Mirandella, Mestre Germano (son-in-law of Ciata), China (brother of Pixinguinha) and Catulo da Paixão Cearense.

Prestige with the Presidency of the Republic

If a measure of prestige is a good relationship with the Presidency of the Republic, it can be said that Tia Ciata had nothing to envy about Abedé. Once she was called to Catete Palace to treat a President Venceslau Brás’ wound, which resisted to all treatments indicated by doctors. Cured by Ciata, Venceslau Brás expressed his gratitude by transferring João Batista (Ciata’s husband) from the National Press to the Chief Police office. Thus, during the tenure of Venceslau Brás (1914-18), parties at Tia Ciata's house were allowed and even two soldiers were sent to provide security for the participants. The prestige of the family survived Ciata: in 1925, the Chief of Police managed to find a place for Bucy Moreira study at Bom Jesus School in Paquetá, where he stayed till 1927.

Tia Ciata's house, as described by Roberto Moura

It became the capital of Little Africa in Rio de Janeiro. This group of Bahian origin was an elite in this community that moved from the city center to its surroundings, forced to restructure itself in the context of great transformations in the international, national and local scenarios.


ALENCAR, Edigar de. O Carnaval Carioca Através da Música. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1985. V.1

ALMIRANTE. No Tempo de Noel Rosa. 2ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1977

ALVES, Henrique. Sua Excelência o Samba. 2ª ed. São Paulo: Símbolo, 1976

CABRAL, Sérgio. No Tempo de Almirante. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1990

CABRAL, Sérgio. As Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Lumiar, 1996

MOURA, R. 1983. Tia Ciata e a pequena África no Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro: Funarte/INM.

JOTA Efegê. Figuras e Coisas do Carnaval Carioca. Rio de Janeiro: Funarte

Vídeo Petrobrás Heróis no mundo



Eduardo Martins: "Bucy Moreira, o neto da Tia Ciata"