Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil

The complex history and artistic expression of this region’s popular art.

Did you know that 10 times more Africans were brought in bondage into Brazil than into the United States? Did you know that the Northeast of Brazil has the largest population of those of African descent outside Africa? Do you know how deeply the African heritage has influenced the culture of present-day Brazil?

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints explores how the ancient cultures of Africa blended with indigenous and colonial Portuguese traditions to form the vibrant and complex cultural mosaic of modern Brazil. Engaging photographs and works of popular art, including sculptures, paintings, prints, religious objects, toys, and booklets of poetry will draw visitors into the complex and vibrant culture of the Northeast of Brazil and introduce the festivals, heroes, and spiritual traditions that give shape and meaning to the daily lives of the Nordestinos, common people of Brazil’s Northeast.

The exhibition explores how diverse traditions come together in the region and uses work by historical and contemporary artists to illuminate a fascinating history that reaches into modern Brazil. Throughout, the exhibition explores the resilience and vitality of modern-day descendants of Africa.

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints is an exhibition in three parts:
“The Land & its People” presents the complicated history of sugar plantations and African slavery in colonial Brazil. It introduces the parched backlands of the sertão and the challenging life of the vaqueiros (cowboys), retirantes (migrant workers), and the heroes of the ordinary people of the Northeast.

“Expressions of Faith” presents the rich African-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, exploring its historic African roots and its intersection with Roman Catholicism. Photographs, paintings, and sacred objects show colorful processions, festivals, and pilgrimages of these two religious traditions.

“Poetry, Celebration & Song” features literatura de cordel (literature on a string) produced by singing poets who “sell” their songs in small chapbooks in markets and fairs. Poetry, prints, and sculptures inspired by folk legends and current events signal the dynamic fusion of tradition and improvisation in the culture of the Northeast.

Throughout the exhibition, the design will make use of colorful immersive environments. Hands-on interactive, music, and video components will combine with large-scale photographs and original artifacts to show the complex history, religious devotion, and artistic expression that come together in the popular art of the Northeast of Brazil.

Read More


Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints will tour from September 2015 through August 2020. Dates are subject to change; please call for current availability.

This exhibition will be awarded first to new venues, particularly those in Hawaii and Vermont.

Contact: or (800) 473-3872, ext. 208

  • September 1–October 20, 2015 Culture Lab at Mid-America Arts Alliance
    Kansas City, MO
  • November 10, 2015–January 7, 2016 Bravos Valley Museum of Natural History
    Bryan, TX
  • January 28–March 26, 2016 Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art
    Fayette, MO
  • April 6–May 25, 2016 Interlochen Center for the Arts
    Interlochen, MI
  • June 18–August 14, 2016 American University Museum
    Washington, DC
  • September 1–October, 2016 Kean University
    Union, NJ
  • November 10, 2016–January 7, 2017 Wyandotte County Historical Society
    Bonner Springs, KS
  • January 28–March 26, 2017 Worcester Center for Crafts
    Worcester, MA
  • April 6–May 25, 2017 University of New England Art Gallery
    Portland, ME
  • June 18–August 14, 2017
    Ocala, FL
  • September 1–October, 2017 Lyman Allyn Art Museum
    New London, CT
  • January 28–March 26, 2018
    Las Cruses, NM
  • April 6–May 25, 2018
    Alexandria, VA
  • June 18–August 14, 2018
    London, KY
  • September 1–October, 2018
    Geneseo, NY
  • November 10, 2018–January 7, 2019 Ouachita Public Library
    Monroe, LA
  • January 28–March 26, 2019
    Joplin, MO
  • April 6–May 25, 2019 -
  • June 18–August 14, 2019
    Sioux City, IA
  • September 1–October, 2019
    San Diego, CA
  • November 10, 2019–January 7, 2020 -
  • January 28–March 26, 2020
    Kansas City, MO
  • April 6–May 25, 2020 -
  • June 18–August 14, 2020 -
  • September 1–October, 2020 -

Exhibition Details & Specifications

  • Curated By

    Barbara Cervenka and Marion Jackson, directors, Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas

  • Organized By

    Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance
  • Content

    The exhibition will feature several freestanding units focused on thematic areas; a collection of objects, artifacts, photographs, and paper ephemera; audio/video features; interactive elements; semi-immersive environment settings; and wall-mounted banners and graphics.

  • Duration

    7 weeks

  • Rental Fee


  • Grant


  • Support

    On-site support is free to the opening venue for every new NEH on the Road exhibition and to first-time hosting venues on a limited basis.

  • Shipping:

    The maximum out of pocket shipping expense is $1,000. Exhibitor will coordinate with the M-AAA registrar for all outgoing transportation arrangements.

  • Security


  • Square Feet


  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    21 crates and 1 tub/6,570 pounds

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by NEH on the Road at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.


Download the glossary here.

Afoxé—A Carnival parading tradition practiced in Bahia to express African identity through singing, drumming, and dancing.

Agogô—A metal bell that is used as a percussion instrument in Candomblé ceremonies.

Anastácia—She a legendary enslaved African princess now regarded by many in Brazil as a popular saint. She is depicted wearing a face mask as she was punished for resisting the advances of her master. She is a symbol of resilience and resistance in Brazil.

Antonio Conselheiro—This was the religious leader of a group of peasants and the hero of the community called Canudos.

Arte Popular—This literally means “popular art’” or art of the common people (not academically trained artists) in the poorer, less educated sectors of Brazilian society. In South America, the word “popular” refers to ordinary. Arte popular includes objects created for use in daily life and or for celebratory occasions in the community or objects intended to illustrate and communicate community history and stories.

Axé (Ah SHAY)—A force, energy, and spirit in the universe.

Bahia—The largest state in the Northeast of Brazil.

Baiano—A male person born in Bahia.

Baiana—A female person born in Bahia. This is also the term commonly used to refer to women of Bahia who dress in white lace dresses and sell traditional African foods in the streets and squares of the city of Salvador.

Baião (by-OUN)—A popular form of syncopated dance music of the Northeast.

Bendito—A praise song, linked with popular Catholicism and devotional music of pilgrimages in the sertão.

Berimbau—A single stringed percussion instrument of African origin that is commonly incorporated into the performance of capoeira.

Caatinga (ka-TING-ah)—The thorny underbrush of the sertão. Also known as a biome or ecosystem in which this thorny brush resides.

Caboclo—A person or mixed race, usually drawing from Portugese and indigenous roots; also the name of a deity in some houses of Candomblé honoring the indigenous spirit in Brazilian history.

Candomblé (kahn-dom-BLAY)—An African-Brazilian religion formed mainly from religious traditions of Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu people (traditions from the Congo and the Gulf of Benin in Africa). Music, dance, and ecstatic ritual are used as a means for Candomblé practitioners.

Cangaceiros (kon-ga-SEHR-oh)—These were outlaws in Brazil’s backlands who attacked towns, burned ranches, and stole from the rich. At times the crimes of these bandits were met with sympathy and even admiration from the poor. They wore a distinctive dress including colorful kerchiefs and leather hats with upturned brims and cartridge belts across their chests. Lampião is a famous and colorful cangaceiro.

Cantoria—A stylized singer/poet tradition in the northeast region of Brazil in which singers improvise to comment on and offer humorous criticism of social issues and public figures.

Capoeira (kop-o-WAY-ra)—This is a form or martial art that was often masked as a dance. It focuses on the legs and feet and capoeiristas are forbidden from striking with their hands.

Carranca (ca-HAHN-ka)—This is a wooden carving attached to the front of a riverboat. These figureheads depict human or animal faces that traditionally have a scowl or menacing face to frighten away intruders. The carrancas served as guardians and also identified different merchants travelling on a waterway.

Church of the Bonfim—This is a Catholic Church in the city of Salvador, dedicated to the Crucifixion of Jesus. Both Catholics and initiates of Candomblé revere the church as a place of miracles.

Cruzeiros—A currency in Brazil that circulated from 1942–86 and 1990–93 and was replaced by the real.

Engenhos—Plantations in Brazil that produced sugar for export. Fields of sugar cane were planted and harvested; mills with heavy presses were used to grind juice from the cane, and huge boilers boiled the juice into syrup and refined raw sugar. Slaves worked on the sugar plantations and sugar was traded for slaves.

Ex-votos—These are symbols of prayers offered or answered that are made of carved wood or wax that represent hands, feet, heart, or eyes. Often they are hung from the ceiling or posted on walls as a sign of prayer or petition. Ex-votos are sold in local markets to religious pilgrims paying homage to a saint.

Exu (e-SHU)—In Candomblé, this mischievous spirit is the messenger who travels between the orixás and believers. Exu loves to play tricks and his colors are red and black.

Ferramenteiro—An artisan who works in iron.

Ferramentas—These are hand-wrought iron symbols of African deities called orixás in the African-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. Ferramentas are abstract representations of spirits and are often found in shrines or altaras.

Filha de santo—A female initiate of Candomblé.

Filho de santo—A male initiate of Candomblé

Forró (fo-HO)—A popular Brazilian northeastern dance music.

Ganho—This was an earning system typical of urban slavery in Brazil.

Irmandade da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of the Good Death)—This is the oldest functioning women’s mutual aid society in Brazil. It was established by free and enslaved black women in the early 1800s to care for members in illness and death.

Lampião (lahm-pee-OUN)—A famous bandit or cangaceiro of Brazil’s Northeast. His band of outlaws terrorized the backlands in the 1920s and 1930s for nearly twenty years until he was killed by the state militia in 1938.

Literatura de cordel (lit-er-a-TUR-ah de cor-del)—This refers to stories on a string; a popular literature tradition featuring small inexpensive pamphlets of poetry that were sold clipped to strings in markets.

Lula da Silva—Lula was the founding member and later President of the Workers’ Party. He ran for president of Brazil three times and was elected in 2002. He emphasized social development and initiated a campaign to eradicate hunger.

Malês—This term is from the Yoruba word imale which means Muslim—malês were black Muslim slaves in Brazil and because they were literate, were able to organize a number of slave revolts.

Mamulengos—Marionette-like figures with articulated joints and chins that are sold in markets of Brazil.

Maria Bonita—She was a famous cangaceiro, one of Lampião’s gang members and his beautiful consort.

Movimento Sem Terra—The Movement of the Landless, or MST was founded in 1984 by landless workers to demand a more equitable distribution of land.

Naná (na-NAH)—Orixá of the moon who is the eldest of the female orixás and identifies with death and life, rain and earth. Her color is purple.

Nordeste (nor-DEST-chee)—The Northeast region of Brazil.

Nordestinos—These are the ordinary people of Brazil’s Northeast region. There are 53 million inhabitants of the Northeast region.

Ogum (o-GUM)—Orixá of iron and blacksmiths. This is the strong and fearless orixá of iron and war who protects workers, especially those who work with metal. His colors are blue and green.

Omolú (o-mo-LU)—Orixá of pestilience and healing. He is covered in a straw garment and is bent over by his wounds. His colors are red, black, and white.

Orixás (o-ree-SHAS)—These are the deities in the Candomblé religion that reflect different aspects of God. Each orixá has its own story, own temperament, own color, and own symbols such as fans, swords, bows, and arrows etc.

Ossain (o-sigh-IN)—The orixá of medicines and herbs who wears the colors of the forest (green and brown) and carries a bird on his staff.

Oxalá (o-sha-LA)—The father of the orixás who is connected to wisdom, creation, life and death, and associated with the color white.

Oxossi (o-SHOW-si)—Orixá of the Hunt who carries a bow and arrow. His colors are blue or green.

Oxum (o-SHOOM)—Orixá of fresh waters whose colors are gold and yellow. Oxum is connected to beauty.

Oxumaré (o-shum-a-RE)—The orixá of the rainbow and serpents. He/she is clothed with many colors and is always in motion. He/she carries a serpent, sometimes on his/her head.

Padre Cicero—Cicero Romão Batista (1844–1934) is widely known as Padre Cicero and was a Catholic Priest and civic leader in Juazeiro do Norte. He was loved by the poor and known as a worker of miracles. A 75-foot statue of Padre Cicero stands in foothills outside of Juazeiro do Norte. Every year, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to this city in his honor.

Pai or Mãe de Santo (Pai or Mãe rhymes with why) (father or mother of saints)—The priest or priestess of Candomblé religion.

Pelé—Born in 1940, he is regarded as the best Brazilian soccer player of all time. Now retired, he once received the International Peace Award for his work with UNICEF and in 1999 was named Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football.

Pelourinho (pel-oo-REEN-yo)—This is the historic center of the city of Salvador and since 1985 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 1500s, it was an important public square in the city of Salvador. It contains the largest concentration of colonial architecture in the Americas.

Quilombo—The quilombo is a runaway slave community. The most famous is located in Palmares, which was called an African slave state. A famous hero of the quilombo is Zumbi.

Repentistas (he-pen-CHEE-stas)—These are improvisational singing poets found at markets or fairs.

Retirantes (hey-chee-RAHN-tes)—These are people who have fled the sertão region due to drought and move to the South to larger cities in search of work.

Rosario—The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks is known as Rosario and stands in the historic Pelourinho square in Salvador.

Seca (SHE-kah)—A period of drought in the sertão.

Senzalas—These were plantation slave quarters where enslaved blacks of different ethnicities and from regions in Africa lived. Senzalas were located a distance from the house of the landowner.

Sertão (ser-TOUN)—This is the desert-like, dry, and sparsely populated place that comprises the interior of the Northeast of Brazil. It’s also known as the backlands. Historically, cattle ranchers, poor farmers, and fugitives from enslavement have lived in this region.

Terreiros—A house of Candomblé or a temple. The terreiros preserved African religion, language, cuisine, ornament, rhythms, dance, song and poetry. One of the oldest houses of Candomblé in Salvador is Ilé Axé Opo Afonja.

Xangô (shan-GO)—The orixá of Justice and fire who carries a double-headed axe. His colors are red and white.

Xilogravura (shee-low-gra-VU-rah)—These are woodblock prints created and valued as works of art, but sometimes sold in the markets. Woodblock prints were used for the covers of literatura de cordel.

Yansan (yahn-SAN)—Orixá of the Wind and Storms thunder, wind, and lightning. Yansan is known for her fiery temper. Her colors are red and white.

Vaqueiros (va-KEHR-ohs)—These are the cowboys of the dry backlands of the Northeast of Brazil, in the sertão region. They often dressed in leather, drove cattle over large tracts of land, and had the responsibility of caring for them and ensuring their survival.

Yemanja (ye-man-JA)—Orixá of the seas who is also the orixá of motherhood and protectress of sailors; she is associated with the colors silver, white, rose, or light blue.

Zumbi—He is a legendary hero among African Brazilians that was born in the quilombo of Palmares in 1655. Zumbi was born free but was captured by the Portugese and was given to a priest at age six. He escaped and returned to the quilombo of Palmares at age fifteen. He became a leader of the quilombo and was killed in a battle with the Portuguese in 1697. November 20 is known in Brazil as the Day of Black Consciousness in celebration and honor of Zumbi.

Exhibition Reference Materials

Download this bibliography here.

Books for Adults

Almeida, Bira. Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form. Berkeley: Blue Snake Books, 1993.

Almeida, Livia Maria de, and Ana Maria Portella and Margaret Read MacDonald, eds. Brazilian Folktales (World Folklore Series). Westport:  Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

Andrews, George Reid. Afro-Latin America. 1800-2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

*Arons, Nichaolas Gabriel. Waiting for Rain: The Politics and Poetry of Drought in Northeast Brazil. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 2004.

Aronson, Marc and Marina Budhos. Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science. New York: Clarion Books, 2010.

Barickman, B. J. A Bahian Counterpoint: Sugar, Tobacco, Cassava, and Slavery in the Recõncavo, 1780-1860. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Benjamin, Thomas. The Atlantic World: Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Their Shared History, 1400-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Bergad, Laird W. The Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Brecht, Fatim. House of Miracles: Votive Sculptures of Northeastern Brazil. New York: The Americas Society, 1989.

Burns, E. Bradford.  A History of Brazil.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 3rd edition, 1993.

Capone, Stefania. Searching for Africa in Brazil: Power and Tradition in Candomblé. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

*Chandler, Billy Jaynes. Bandit King: Lampião of Brazil. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1978.

*Crook, Larry. Focus: Music of Northeast Brazil. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Cunha, Euclides da. Rebellion in the Backlands (Os Sertoes). Translated by Samuel Putnam. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1944.

Curran, Mark J. Fifty Years of Research on Brazil: A Photographic Journey. Victoria: Trafford Publishing, 2014.

*Curran, Mark J. Brazil’s Folk-Popular Poetry—A Literatura De Cordel. Bloomington: Trafford Publishing, 2010.

Dawson, Allen Charles. In Light of Africa: Globalizing Blackness in Northeast Brazil. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.

*De Queiros Mattoso, Katia M. To Be a Slave in Brazil: 1550–1888. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987.

Dinneen, Mark. Brazilian Woodcut Prints. London: Routledge, 2000.

Dinneen, Mark. Listening to the People’s Voice: Erudite and Popular Literature in North East Brazil. London and New York: Kegan Paul International, 1996.

Dow, Carol L. Magic from Brazil: Recipes, Spells, and Rituals. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2001.

Fausto, Boris. A Concise History of Brazil. Translated by Arthur Brakel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

French, Jan Hoffman. Legalizing Identities: Becoming Black or Indian in Brazil’s Northeast. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

*Galembo, Phyllis, ed. Divine Inspiration: From Benin to Bahia. Brooklyn: Athelia Henrietta Press, 1993.

Gates, Henry Louis Jr. and Donald Yacovone. The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross. New York:  Smiley Books, 2013.

Gates, Henry Louis Jr. Black in Latin America. New York and London:  New York University Press, 2011.

*Graden, Dale Torston. From Slavery to Freedom in Brazil: Bahia, 1835-1900. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

Harding, Rachel E. A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2000.

Hawthorne, Walter. From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600-1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Ickes, Scott. African-Brazilian Culture and Regional Identity in Bahia, Brazil. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013.

*Jackson, Marion and Barbara Cervenka, eds. Bandits and Heroes, Poets and Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil. Detroit: Con/Vida, 2013.

Johnson, Paul Christopher. Secrets, Gossip, and Gods—the Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

*Kerr, Gordon. A Short History of Brazil: From Pre-Colonial Peoples to Modern Economic Miracle. Harpenden: Pocket Essentials, 2014.

*King, Lindsey. Spiritual Currency in Northeast Brazil. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014.

Kraay, Hendrick. Afro-Brazilian Culture and Politics: Bahia, 1790s to 1990s. London: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

Landes, Ruth. City of Women, 2nd ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

Levine, Robert M. The History of Brazil. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.

Levine, Robert M. and John J. Crocitti, eds. The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, and Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999.

*McGowan, Chris and Ricardo Pessanha. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009.

Matory, J. Lorand. Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Mello e Souza, Laura. The Devil and the Land of the Holy Cross: Witchcraft, Slavery, and Popular Religion in Colonial Brazil. Translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

Merrell, Floyd. Capoeira and Candomblé: Conformity and Resistance through Afro- Brazilian Experience. Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2005.

Myscofski, Carole A. Amazons, Wives, Nuns, and Witches: Women and the Catholic Church in Colonial Brazil, 1500-1822. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013.

Murphy, Joseph M. Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995.

Omari, Mikelle Smith. From the Inside to the Outside: The Art and Ritual of Bahian Candomblé. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, 1984.

Press, Smithsonian Institution. Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press in association with the Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, Virginia, 2002.

Thomas, Hugh. The Slave Trade: The Story of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440- 1870. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Reis, João José. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Translated by Arthur Brakel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

*Rocha, Jan. Brazil in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture. Brooklyn: Interlink Books, 1997.

Rodman, Selden. Genius in the Backlands: Popular Artists of Brazil. Greenwich: Devin-Adair Publishing, 1977.

Rogers, Thomas D. The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Romo, Anadelia A. Brazil’s Living Museum: Race, Reform, and Tradition in Bahia. The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Sansi, Roger. Fetishes and Monuments: Afro-Brazilian Art and Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Berghagn Books, 2007.

Schwartz, Stuart B. Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550- 1835. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Selka, Stephen. Religion and the Politics of Ethnic Identity in Bahia, Brazil. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009.

Slater, Candace. Stories on a String. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982.

Sullivan, Edward J., ed.  Body and Soul. New York:  Guggenheim Museum, 2001.

Thomas, Hugh. The Slave Trade: The Story of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440- 1870. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

*Tribe, Tania Costa, ed. Heroes and Arts: Popular Art and the Brazilian Imagination. Cambridge: The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2001.

Voeks, Robert A. Sacred Leaves of Candomblé: African Magic, Medicine, and Religion in Brazil. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

Wafer, James. A Taste of Blood: Spirit Possession in Brazilian Candomblé. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.

Books For a Younger Audience

Aloian, Molly. Cultural Traditions in Brazil. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2012.

Auch, Alison. Welcome to Brazil. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2003.

Barber, Nicola. Brazil. London: Arcturus, 2010.

Bauer, Brandy. Brazil: A Question and Answer Book. Mankato: Fact Finders, 2004.

Bojang, Ali Brownlie. Destination Detectives: Brazil. Chicago: Raintree, 2007.

Boraas, Tracey. Brazil. Mankato: Capstone Press, 2002.

Campos, Maria de Fatimo. B is for Brazil. London: Frances Lincoln, 2005.

Campos, Maria de Fatimo. Cassio’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a Brazilian Village. London: Frances Lincoln, 2010.

Dahl, Michael. Brazil. Mankato: Bridgestone Books, 1999.

Deckker, Zilah. Countries of the World: Brazil. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2008.

DeSpain, Pleasant. Dancing Turtle: A Folk Tale from Brazil. Little Rock: August House LittleFolk, 1998.

Dicks, Brian. Brazil. London: Evans Brothers Limited, 2006.

Forest, Christopher. Brazil. Edina: Abdo Publishing Company, 2012.

*Freeland, Francois-Xavier. Kids Around the World: We Live in Brazil. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2007.

Gerson, Mary-Joan. How Night Came from the Sea: A Story from Brazil. New York: Little Brown and Company, 1994.

Goldsworthy, Steve. Brazil. New York: Weigl Publishers, 2014.

Green, Yuko. Camina from Brazil: Sticker Paper Doll. New York: Dover Publications, 2004.

Haskins, James and Kathleen Benson. Count Your Way Through Brazil. Minneapolis: Carolrhonda Books, 1996.

Heinrichs, Ann. Brazil: A True Book. New York: Children’s Press, 1997.

*Heinrichs, Ann. Brazil: Enchantment of the World. New York: Scholastic, 2008.

*Hollander, Malika. Brazil: The Culture. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2003.

Hollander, Malika. Brazil: The People. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2003.

Jones, Caryn Gracey. Teens in Brazil. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2007.

Kalman, Bobbie. Spotlight on Brazil. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2011.

Lynch, Emma. We’re From Brazil. Portsmouth: Heinemann Publishing, 2005.

Maldonada, Cristina Falcon. 1, 2, 3 Suddenly in Brazil: The Ribbons of Bonfim. Hauppauge: Barron’s Educational Series, 2011.

Morrison, Marion. Brazil. Chicago: Portsmouth: Heinemann Publishing, 2012.

Parker, Ed. Discover Brazil. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2010.

Richard, Christopher and Leslie Jermyn. Cultures of the World: Brazil. Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2002.

Roop, Peter and Connie Roop. A Visit to Brazil. Portsmouth: Heinemann Publishing, 2008.

Seidman, David. Brazil ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of Brazil. Mankato: Picture Window Books, 2007.

Shields, Charles J. Brazil. Broomall: Mason Crest Publishers, 2008.

*Streissguth, Thomas. Brazil in Pictures. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2003.

Tieck, Sarah. Brazil. Minneapolis: Abdo Publishing, 2014. Viera, Michelle Pinzon. Let’s Play Capoeira! Book 1: Training. New York: Capoeira Center New York, 2012.*

Walters, Tara. Brazil. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2008.

Weitzman, Elizabeth. Brazil. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2008.


Black in Latin America. DVD. Directed by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arlington: PBS, 2011.

*Brazil: An Inconvenient History. DVD. Directed by Phil Grabsky. Brighton: Seventh Art, 2008.

Bye Bye Brazil. DVD. Directed by Carolos Diegues. 1979; New York: New Yorker Studios, 2007.

Central Station. DVD. Directed by Walter Sales. 1998; New York: Sony Pictures, 1999.

A Dog’s Will (O Auto da Compadecida). DVD. Directed by Guel Arrares. Rio: Globo Filmes, 2000.

Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilé Aiyé. DVD. Directed by Carolina Moraes-Liu. 2010; Bahia: Documentario, 2012.

Ilé Aiyé (The House of Life). DVD. Directed by David Byrne. 1989; New York: Plexifilm, 2004.

Me You Them (Eu Tu Eles). DVD. Directed by Andrucha Waddington. 2000; New York: Sony Pictures, 2001.

Moro No Brasil. DVD. Directed by Mike Kaurismäki. Burbank: Milan Records, 2002.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. DVD. Directed by Henry Louis Gates Jr. 2013; Arlington: PBS, 2014.

The Middle of the World. DVD. Directed by Vincente Amorim. 2003; New York: Film Movement, 2005.

Quilombo. DVD. Directed by Carlos Diegues. 1984; New York: New Yorker Films, 2005.


Bethânia, Maria. Amor, Festa, Devoção. AIS, 2010. Compact disc.

Brown, Carlinhos. Omelete Man. London: EMI, 1998. Compact disc.

Caymmi, Dorival. The Essential Dorival Caymmi. Recorded 1954-85. New York: DRG, 2014. Compact disc.

Costa, Gal. Brazil A Todo Vapor. Recorded 1971. Lisboa: Universal Portugal, 1997. Compact disc.

*Djavan. A Voz, O Violão, A Música de Djavan. Recorded 1976. Brazil: Som Livre, 1996. Compact disc.

Djavan. Alumbramento. Recorded 1980. London: EMI, 1992. Compact disc.

———. Djavan. Recorded 1978. London: EMI, 1992. Compact disc.

———. Luz. Recorded 1982. New York: Sony Music LP, Reissue Sony CD, 1996. Compact disc.

———. Seduzir. Recorded 1981. London: EMI, 1991. Compact disc.

*Gil, Gilberto. As Canções de Eu Tu Eles. Recorded 2000. New York: Warner Specialty, 2001. Compact disc.

———. Early Years. Recorded 1967-70. Surrey: Wrasse, 2008. Compact disc.

———. Louvação. Recorded 1967. Amsterdam: Phillips, 2007. Compact disc.

Gil, Gilberto and Jorge Ben. Gil E Jorge. Recorded 1975. New York: Verve/Reissue Polygram, 1992. Compact disc.

Gonzaga, Luiz. Volta Pra Cutir. Berlin: BMG International, 2001. Compact disc.

*Various Artists. Brazil Classics 3: Forró, Etc. Compilation. New York: Luaka Bop Records, 1991. Compact disc.

Veloso, Caetano. The Best of Caetano Veloso. New York: Nonesuch Records, 2003. Compact disc.

Zé, Tom. Brazil Classics, Vol. 4. Compilation. New York: Luaka Bop, 1990. Compact disc.

Online Tools

Brazilian Music

Afro-Pop Worldwide is a radio program and online magazine dedicated to music from Africa and the African disaspora. It is distributed on Public Radio International and launched by NPR as a weekly series. Their website contains an excellent education resource that shares the history of samba in Brazil.

Forró is a style of Brazilian dance that developed from classic styles of folk music. This website provides an in-depth explanation of forró history and style.

The Brazilian Music Day is an online effort to identify and catalog all the recordings of Brazilian Music throughout the world and this website contains an online database that describes all genres of Brazilian music with definitions.

This article featured on public radio describes forró music and contains a video of Luiz Gonzaga performing.

This site describes the history of forró and other styles of Brazilian music. It also features a list of artists, albums, and genres and movements.

This YouTube page features a documentary produced in 2008 that presents a filmic look at Brazilian Forró, the people who perform it and places where it is from and performed today. The 27-minute film Por Amor ao Forro (For the Love of Forró), is in Portugese, but has English subtitles.

This website defines maracatu music/dance/performance.

This website defines varied instruments used to create styles of Brazilian music.


The World Wildlife Fund publishes a page about the caatinga—the natural habitat of scrubland in northeastern Brazil.

Candomblé religion

Capoeira Sul de Bahia San Francisco’s website contains information about Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé, and its history and orixás.

The BBC has an online archived webpage that shares information about Candomblé beliefs, practice, history, and worship.


Culture Trip shares information about the art, food, culture and traveling in Brazil. A portion of the site describes a history of capoeira.

The Brazilian Arts Foundation features a thorough description and history of capoeira on this website.

ConVida: Popular Arts of the Americas

ConVida, the originating curators of Bandits & Heroes, published a website that contains information about the northeast of Brazil and specific links to some of the artists featured in the Bandits and Heroes exhibition.

Cordel Literature

This website of the Fundaçao Joaquim Nabuco Library provides an excellent description of cordel literature or literature de cordel.

Professor Mark Curran, author of several books about Brazil’s folk-popular poetry, shares a great online introduction to cordel literature, its role, value, and status in Brazil today.

General Brazil Information

This website features comprehensive information about geography, history, culture, cities and more with links to particular regions of Brazil.

Encyclopedia Brittanica’s website contains general information about land forms, population, politics, and other geographical facts about Brazil.

This site contains interactive links to additional information about regions in the country of Brazil.


This site features general information about Exu who serves as a messenger spirit in the African-Brazilian religion of Candomblé.


This site features general information about the legendary Lampião, bandit of the dry backlands of northeast Brazil.

This website features documentary film footage about backcountry bandits that incorporates film and stills from 1936, 1951, and 1964 with images of the famous Lampião and Maria Bonita and other cangaceiros (bandits).

Luiz Gonzaga

This music site provides a general biography of northeast Brazilian musician Luis Gonzaga.

Afro Pop features an archived program about forro music and artist Luiz Gonzaga.

Malê Slave Revolt

This site describes the African history of Islamic slaves in Brazil and the attempted Muslim slave revolts against the Portuguese in 1814 and 1816 and the successful one on January 25, 1835.


This site provides a brief description of Palmares.


This website features information about the city center of Salvador that describes the architecture and history of the area.

This site contains information published by UNESCO about the history and architecture of Salvador’s city center, the Pelourinho, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


This National Geographic article describes the past and present history and challenges of the quilombo— “traditionally defined as a community of escaped slaves to its new definition today as a community that had African ancestry related to a history of resistance to historical oppression.”

This link opens an in-depth description of quilombos and African history and settlement in Brazil in an archeological paper.


This website features information about the backcountry or backlands of Brazil (vegetation, culture, climate, etc.).

Slavery in Brazil

This website provides concise information about slavery in Brazil—its history and how it was abolished.

History Today has produced an online article that provides helpful information about how the slave trade shaped Brazil.

This site contains a comprehensive curriculum unit on slavery and compares and contrasts slavery in Brazil to that around the world.

This website contains a map of the triangle slave route and excerpts from a first-hand account of the slave trade in Africa, published in 1788.

The African American Registry published a concise page on the history of Brazil abolishing slavery.

This website contains useful video content from varied online sources about the history of the slave trade.

The International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, England, has in-depth information online about the history of the transatlantic slave trade.

This video (from the History Channel) shares information on the history of slavery in Brazil.

Sister Dulce (Irmá Dulce)

This five-minute YouTube video provides information about Brazil and Salvador’s Sister Dulce’s service to the poor.

This website provides biographical information about Sister Dulce Pontes of Salvador and her legacy.


This website features biographical information about the historical figure of Zumbi in Brazilian culture.


Timeline of Brazil

Download this timeline here.

The Treaty of Tordesillas divided the land of the Americas between the countries of Spain and Portugal.

Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvarez Cabral (1467–1520) landed in Brazil and claimed the country for Portugal. He named it the land of the true cross—Terra da Vera Cruz.

The city of Recife was founded by the Portuguese.

The city of Salvador (the first capital of Brazil) was founded by the Portuguese.

The city of Rio de Janeiro was founded.

The city of Cachoeira was founded.

Gold was discovered in Brazil’s interior in the South.

Zumbi was killed in Palmares on November 20. This day is celebrated in Brazil as a day of Afro-Brazilian Consciousness.

Construction began in Salvador on the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Blacks (the Rosario). It was built by and for freed and enslaved Africans who were not allowed to worship in Portuguese churches.

The city of Fortaleza was founded by the Portuguese as a military outpost.

Diamonds were discovered in Brazil’s interior in the South.

Rio de Janeiro became the capital of Brazil.

Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of San Ildefonso, which created Brazil’s borders (roughly where they still are today).

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (1746–1792) (known as Tiradentes), led the first major rebellion in Brazil against Portuguese rule.

The Portuguese royal family (King João VI and family) left for Brazil after France invaded Portugal. This was the start of the Peninsular War (1807–14) between Napoleon and the allied powers of Spain.

King João VI (1767–1826) named his empire the Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil.

Pedro I (1798–1834), the son of the King of João VI, remained in Brazil as regent after his father returned to Portugal.

Pedro I declared Brazil an independent empire and named himself emperor.

Emperor Pedro returned to Portugal and left behind his five year old son, Pedro II, who took over as ruler of Brazil at the age of 15.

Six hundred mostly Muslim Africans (both enslaved and free) rose up in Bahia against slavery.

Pedro II’s (1825–1891) reign began.

The city of Juazeiro do Norte was founded by Padre Cicero (1844–1934).

The city of Aurora was founded.

Slavery was abolished in Brazil by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil. Brazil was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery.

Pedro II was forced to give up his throne by the military at the urging of wealthy plantation owners. Brazil became a republic. General Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca (1827–1892) became the first president.

Southeastern Brazil became a coffee growing center and coffee became the country’s most important crop.

Brazil produced 65% of the world’s coffee.

A revolt placed Getulio Vargas (1882–1954) at the head of the provisional revolutionary government.

Vargas led a coup and ruled as dictator.

Lampião (1897–1938) and his band of cangaceiros were killed by the state militia.

Vargas was ousted in a military coup. The new constitution returned power to states.

Vargas was elected president, but faced stiff opposition.

Vargas committed suicide after the military gave him the option of either resigning or being overthrown.

Juscelino Kubitschek (1902–1976) was elected president.

Brasilia was chosen to replace Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil.

A military dictatorship to rule Brazil began. The army took over the government.

The Trans-Amazonian Highway project encouraged settlement in the Amazon and put native species in danger.

The Movimento Sem Terra (Movement of the Landless or MST) was founded by landless workers to demand a more equitable distribution of land.

Civilians took over the Brazilian government.

Pelourinho (a neighborhood in the city of Salvador) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Democracy returned to Brazil with the election of President Fernando Collor.

A new constitution was adopted.

The first international Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro. More than 100 world leaders met to discuss ways to protect the environment.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso (b. 1931) became president.

Brazil won the world cup in soccer.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (b. 1945) became Brazil’s first working-class president.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was re-elected.

Brazil’s first woman president, Dilma Rousseff (b. 1947) was elected.

Dilma Rousseff was re-elected.

Capoeira is added to the list of UNESCO’s Int