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Saturday Memory from Brazil …. and a wish

April 13, 2013

During the final week of our stay in Rio, we visited the National Museum of Folklore and Popular Culture.  Of course I was at a loss without the language but I was able to look and imagine for a while and  consider research more fully later.  

Meanwhile I will share this visual delight; dating back to the end of the 19th century the museum presents 1400 objects organised in five themes;-  life, crafts, religion, feasts and arts.  The exhibition tells the history of the Brazilian Man in a warm, colourful and dynamic way;it is  pure entertainment!

No one could not fail to be excited by the costumes of the carnival and the puppets; but I was drawn by something else; a little more discreet but for me no less exciting.

A display of works by the engraver and cordelista José Francisco Borges  (1935-) better known as J. Borges.  As a child he worked with his father would sold books of cordels at fairs and markets.  At the age of 29 he decided to write his own but could not afford to pay an illustrator so he taught himself to carve wood blocks, His cuts, illustrated stories of the people of Northeast Brazil and the everyday lives of the poor farmers and families, highwaymen, love, punishment, mysteries, miracles, crime and corruption.  During his life he wrote and illustrated over 200 cordels.  

In the 1970s, not only were his works collected and exhibited in Europe and the United States but there was academic interest.  Also, at that time his stories and poems were being recited, sung and recorded, allowing further exposure on the radio and television.  

J Borges was awarded the Order of Merit by President Fernando Henrique Cardosa and the UNESCO in Action (Educational/Cultural) Award.  In 2002 he was one 13 artists chosen to illustrate the annual calendar of the United Nations; his woodcut Life in the Forest opens the year.  In 2006 in the New York Times the writer Aniano Suassuna considers Borges to be the best writer of the Northeast.

It is my wish to translate some of the stories and try to copy some of his printing techniques.

 I would value any more information about this form of ‘publication’ as all I have found so far is in Portuguese (why would it not be so?) unfortunately my translation skills are limited. 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2013 9:12 pm

    Good memories!!!!!

  2. July 7, 2014 7:55 am

    Reblogged this on Living, Libraries and [Dead] Languages and commented:

    Today I begin to count down the days before I return to Brazil for my annual visit and remind myself of the joys of previous holidays …. 19 days!

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