Tia Boneca

People - Cabo Frio


It is at the comunidade quilombola (quilombo community - quilombos were hinterland settlements founded by fugitive slaves mostly, but also revolutionaries and refugees during colonization) Maria Romana the oldest inhabitant of Cabo Frio.

Tia Boneca - Photo: Tasso Marcelo Diadorim Ideias

Venância Barreto da Silva, known as Tia Boneca ("Aunt Boneca"), was born in 1904. "Meu dedo é de carne, minha unha de marfim. Não vou amar outro enquanto não ver o seu fim" (My fingers are made of flesh, my nails of marble. I won't love anyone else until I see the end of you), she recites. Tia Boneca hushes verses from her youth years, when she was considered the most beautiful woman in town. "Amor de perto exige cuidado. De longe, é mais estimado" (When love is close, one needs to be careful. At the distance, it is more cherished).

Tia Boneca is niece of Maria Romana, who is said to have died a maiden at 101 years old. She owned lands in the region and it is said her brothers made a "macumba" (a word used to refer to rituals or religions of African origin practices, usually in a pejorative manner) so she would not marry and her properties would not be transferred to her husband and children. Her possessions were inherited by her brothers and nephews. "Do you realize? She was sacrificed by her family and died as a child, having no intimacy with men", says Tia Boneca. 

Tia Boneca - Photo: Tasso Marcelo Diadorim Ideias

In 2002, she suffered a stroke which left her left arm and leg paralyzed. She is unable to walk. She also has difficulty speaking, but is still lucid. She lives with one of her four daughters, Nazaré, and her great skin does not reveal her age. "People enjoy taking pictures of me and so do I. There will be photos of Boneca everywhere", she says, looking straight to the lenses, which fail to capture the infinite stories she holds. 

"I worked hard, making flour and with the axe. The only thing I did not do was coal mining. I also flirted a lot. I was a storm in the hammock!", she laughs. Her nephew told her he lives with four women and she says, smiling "And what is the problem with that?", covering her toothless mouth with her hands.

At this point in life, everything seems to have the same unimportance. "Num corto cacha de banana. Tu mi ama com firmeza ou me larga de uma vez" (I don't beat around the bush. Either you really love me or you leave me), recites Tia Boneca, grandmother of 31 and a great grandmother already. She is proud to say she took the bus around the city until she was 98 years old. "Now I'm much less healthy If I have to think hard, I get dizzy. I believe if I'm still alive is because God loves me", and she ends the conversation. It's time for a short nap.

General Information

Phone: (+55 22) 2627-4072 / 7835-9700 /99857-1202 (nephew Lamiel Barreto)

Secretaria de Cultura do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Petrobras

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