Category Archives: History

Brazil explained in 100 images

Enjoy this tour of 150 years of Brazilian history through photography and other iconography.

Slaves carry lady in litter in the (then) province of São Paulo, circa 1860.
Slaves carry lady in litter in the (then) province of São Paulo, circa 1860.
Brazilian official and an inprisioned Paraguaian soldier, circa 1865. Note that the soldier is barefoot, as most of the army from Paraguay during the war.
Brazilian official and an inprisioned Paraguaian soldier, circa 1865. Note that the soldier is barefoot, as most of the army from Paraguay during the war.
An exercise of the Brazilian Navy in 1870
An exercise of the Brazilian Navy in 1870

 

Score of Il Guarany, opera in Italian by Carlos Gomes, that had its premier, with huge success, in La Scala theatre, in Milan, in 1870
Score of Il Guarany, opera in Italian by Carlos Gomes, that had its premier, with huge success, in La Scala theatre, in Milan, in 1870

 

Rita Bandeira de Melo Franco, 19th century
Rita Bandeira de Melo Franco, 19th century

 

Canela Indians, from the state of Maranhão, where the Northeast region borders the Amazon. 19th century. Read more about them here.
Canela Indians, from the state of Maranhão, where the Northeast region borders the Amazon. 19th century. Read more about them here.
Eugen Keller and his nanny in Pernambuco. 19th century.
Eugen Keller and his nanny in Pernambuco. 19th century.

 

Emperor Pedro II (the second and last monarch) in 1887
Emperor Pedro II (the second and last monarch) in 1887
The originals of Lei Áurea (Golden Law), signed in 1888 by Princess Izabel, then Brazil's regent. It abolished slavery in the country.
The originals of Lei Áurea (Golden Law), signed in 1888 by Princess Izabel, then Brazil’s regent. It abolished slavery in the country.
Italian immigrants arriving in São Paulo in 1890. Today, 60% of all paulistanos descend at least partially from Italians.
Italian immigrants arriving in São Paulo in 1890. Today, 60% of all paulistanos descend at least partially from Italians.
Padre Cícero, priest, landowner and political leader of Juazeiro, in the state of Ceará, circa 1891. Padim Ciço, as he is also known, has a huge following even today, despite his poor relationship with the Vatican.
Padre Cícero, priest, landowner and political leader of Juazeiro, in the state of Ceará, circa 1891. Padim Ciço, as he is also known, has a huge following even today, despite his poor relationship with the Vatican.

 

Revolta da Armada/ Navy Revolt in 1894. A mutiny against president Floriano Peixoto. Image by Juan Gutierrez
Revolta da Armada/ Navy Revolt in 1894. A mutiny against president Floriano Peixoto. Image by Juan Gutierrez
Survivors of the massacre of Canudos, a rebellious community in Ceará state defeated by the federal troops in 1897. The best report about this episode was written by writer Euclides da Cunha, that wrote "Os Sertões", considered one of the best books ever published in the country.
Survivors of the massacre of Canudos, a rebellious community in Ceará state defeated by the federal troops in 1897. The best report about this episode was written by writer Euclides da Cunha, that wrote “Os Sertões”, considered one of the best books ever published in the country.

 

Photo by Marc Ferrez, the main Brazilian photographer in the 19th century. This image was probably taken in Rio in the last years of the century.
Photo by Marc Ferrez, the main Brazilian photographer in the 19th century. This image was probably taken in Rio in the last years of the century.
Eduardo Ribeiro avenue, in Manaus. Circa 1900. It displays all the riches produced during the Rubber Cycle, when the Amazon became, for a short while, Brazil's Little Paris.
Eduardo Ribeiro avenue, in Manaus. Circa 1900. It displays all the riches produced during the Rubber Cycle, when the Amazon became, for a short while, Brazil’s Little Paris.
Photo montage made in 1901 by Valerio Rodrigues Vieira. Note that all the individuals in this image, including the pictures on the wall and the statue, portrait the author.
Photo montage made in 1901 by Valerio Rodrigues Vieira. Note that all the individuals in this image, including the pictures on the wall and the statue, portrait the author.
Epidemiologist Oswaldo Cruz, arguably the main promoter of vaccination and the adoption of hygienic procedures in the country. Circa early 20th century.
Epidemiologist Oswaldo Cruz, arguably the main promoter of vaccination and the adoption of hygienic procedures in the country. Circa early 20th century.

 

A 1905 high quality counterfeit banknote of 200 thousand réis, the currency at the time.
A 1905 high quality counterfeit banknote of 200 thousand réis, the currency at the time.
Santos Dumont tests his first heavier than air airplane, the 14 Bis, with the help of a donkey and steel cables. Circa 1906
Santos Dumont tests his first heavier than air airplane, the 14 Bis, with the help of a donkey and steel cables. Circa 1906
Salesian nuns and their Bororo indian students. 1908
Salesian nuns and their Bororo indian students. 1908

 

The Kasato Maru brings to the country the first group of Japanese immigrants, in 1908
The Kasato Maru brings to the country the first group of Japanese immigrants, in 1908
Revolta da Chibata, in 1910. A naval mutiny in Rio against physical punishments that was compared to the Potemkin revolt, in Russia. Here, the leader João Cândido (smiling at the left of the guy in a suit) and other sailors are seen with some reporters.
Revolta da Chibata, in 1910. A naval mutiny in Rio against physical punishments that was compared to the Potemkin revolt, in Russia. Here, the leader João Cândido (smiling at the left of the guy in a suit) and other sailors are seen with some reporters.
Brazilian far west was, in fact, in the far south. Guerra do Contestado, a conflict between landowners and settlers (1912-1916) in the Southern states of Paraná and Santa Catarina and also Argentina
Brazilian far west was, in fact, in the far south. Guerra do Contestado, a conflict between landowners and settlers (1912-1916) in the Southern states of Paraná and Santa Catarina and also Argentina
One of the Rondon Expeditions, organized by marshal Cândido Rondon to contact isolated Indian groups, in 1912.
One of the Rondon Expeditions, organized by marshal Cândido Rondon to contact isolated Indian groups, in 1912.
The Minas Geraes battlship, between 1910 and 1915. US Library of Congress via Flickr Commons.
The Minas Geraes battlship, between 1910 and 1915. US Library of Congress via Flickr Commons.
Idem
Idem
An early color image of Rio by Marc Ferrez in 1915
An early color image of Rio by Marc Ferrez in 1915
Ticket for a soccer match between Flamengo, from Rio, and a team from Pará, in the Amazon, in 1916
Ticket for a soccer match between Flamengo, from Rio, and a team from Pará, in the Amazon, in 1916
Funeral of anarchist José Martinez, killed by the police in São Paulo, 1917.
Funeral of anarchist José Martinez, killed by the police in São Paulo, 1917.
PORTO_ALEGRE_-_Confeitaria_Rocco_-_banquete
The high society of Porto Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul state) used to have tea at Confeitaria Rocco, in the 1920s.
18 of Copacabana Fort Revolt, in 1922. First of a series of protests against the traditional elites, organized by the young officers in the 20s, asking for elections to be more democratic, among other things. Photo by Zenóbio da Costa, published in O Malho magazine.
18 of Copacabana Fort Revolt, in 1922. First of a series of protests against the traditional elites, organized by the young officers in the 20s, asking for elections to be more democratic, among other things. Photo by Zenóbio da Costa, published in O Malho magazine.
A corso, typical street Carnival celebration of the early 20th century. This picture was taken in Ourinhos, state of São Paulo, in 1928.
A corso, typical street Carnival celebration of the early 20th century. This picture was taken in Ourinhos, state of São Paulo, in 1928.
The Revolution of 1930 was a coup against president Washington Luis by general Getúlio Vargas, seen in the middle of the picture in military outfit and bare head. It is the beginning of the ascension of Vargas, one of the essential figures in Brazilian history
The Revolution of 1930 was a coup against president Washington Luis by general Getúlio Vargas, seen in the middle of the picture in military outfit and bare head. It is the beginning of the ascension of Vargas, one of the essential figures in Brazilian history

 

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Cristo Redentor - this Art Déco statue is arguably the one image that foreigners associate immediately to Rio and Brazil. It was opened in 1931.
Cristo Redentor – this Art Déco statue is arguably the one image that foreigners associate immediately to Rio and Brazil. It was opened in 1931.
The federal government decided, in 1931, to burn giant amounts of coffee to force its price up. The previous 1929 world financial crisis compromised the main Brazilian product for export at the time.
The federal government decided, in 1931, to burn giant amounts of coffee to force its price up. The previous 1929 world financial crisis compromised the main Brazilian product for export at the time.
In 1932, president Getúlio Vargas had to face a popular uprising in São Paulo state - a response to his coup d'état, two years earlier. This poster invites paulistas to fight - they did, massively, but lost the so-called Revolução Constitucionalista.
In 1932, president Getúlio Vargas had to face a popular uprising in São Paulo state – a response to his coup d’état, two years earlier. This poster invites paulistas to fight – they did, massively, but lost the so-called Revolução Constitucionalista.
Monteiro Lobato, saint patron of Brazilian child literature, surrounded by his main characters in a caricature by Belmonte. Circa 30s
Monteiro Lobato, saint patron of Brazilian child literature, surrounded by his main characters in a caricature by Belmonte. Circa 30s

 

Alzira Soriano, mayor of Lajes, Rio Grande do Norte state, in 1929. She was the first Brazilian woman elected to an executive position - but was thrown away because she opposed president Getúlio Vargas. Three years later women were allowed to vote.
Alzira Soriano, mayor of Lajes, Rio Grande do Norte state, in 1929. She was the first Brazilian woman elected to an executive position – but was thrown away because she opposed president Getúlio Vargas. Three years later women were allowed to vote.

 

Workers prepare to lear the jungle in Fordlândia, property of American mogul Henry Ford, in the state of Pará, in de Amazon, in 1934.
Workers prepare to lear the jungle in Fordlândia, property of American mogul Henry Ford, in the state of Pará, in de Amazon, in 1934. Photo by the Henry Ford Foundation, Flickr.

 

Luís Carlos Prestes, Army captain, politician, and historical communist leader, is arrested in 1936 by his nemesis, president Getúlio Vargas.
Luís Carlos Prestes, Army captain, politician, and historical communist leader, is arrested in 1936 by his nemesis, president Getúlio Vargas.

 

Sexy beachwear since 1937
Sexy beachwear since 1937

 

Virgulino Ferreira, known as Lampião - the leader of cangaceiros, violent outlaws that terrorized the Northeast region in the 20s and 30s.
Virgulino Ferreira, known as Lampião – the leader of cangaceiros, violent outlaws that terrorized the Northeast region in the 20s and 30s.
Lampião, his men and his companion Maria Bonita were killed and beheaded by the Army in 1938.
Lampião, his men and his companion Maria Bonita were killed and beheaded by the Army in 1938. Their heads were exposed in the stairs leading to the entry of a church in the state of Alagoas.
Carmen Miranda in "The Gang is All Here", with Betty Grable, John Payne and Cesar Romero, released in 1944
Carmen Miranda in “The Gang is All Here”, with Betty Grable, John Payne and Cesar Romero, released in 1944
Military parade on September 7th, the national holiday, in 1943
Military parade on September 7th, the national holiday, in 1943
Presidents Getúlio Vargas (Brazil) and Franklin Roosevelt (USA) meeting in 1943 sealed the (reluctant) Brazilian alliance with the Allies during the Second World War.
Presidents Getúlio Vargas (Brazil) and Franklin Roosevelt (USA) meeting in 1943 sealed the (reluctant) Brazilian alliance with the Allies during the Second World War.
1944. Brazilian soldiers that fought with the Allies in WWII. Standing up on the left, with an impressive moustache, war correspondent and famous short stories writer Rubem Braga.
1944. Brazilian soldiers that fought with the Allies in WWII. Standing up on the left, with an impressive moustache, war correspondent and famous short stories writer Rubem Braga.
Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos with his counterpart Aaron Copland (left) and Oscar Correia, US diplomat, at the Waldorf Astoria, in New York, in 1945.
Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos with his counterpart Aaron Copland (left) and Oscar Correia, US diplomat, at the Waldorf Astoria, in New York, in 1945.
Frevo dance in Recife, 1947. Image by the great French-Baiano photographer Pierre Verger.
Frevo dance in Recife, 1947. Image by the great French-Baiano photographer Pierre Verger.

 

Emilinha Borba (the brunette) and Marlene were the two queens of radio in the late forties and fifties. They were said to have a bitter rivalry, which was probably just some sort of marketing strategy. Their many fans would choose one side and stick with it.
Emilinha Borba (the brunette) and Marlene were the two queens of radio in the late forties and fifties. They were said to have a bitter rivalry, which was probably just some sort of marketing strategy. Their many fans would choose one side and stick with it.

Marta Rocha is not elected Miss Universe in 1954 because she has 2 inches two many in her hips . She becomes the most famous beauty pageant contestant of all times in the country.
Getúlio Vargas suicides
President Getúlio Vargas’ suicide reported by daily Última Hora, in 1954.
Amigo da Onça
Amigo da Onça, a famed cartoon by Péricles in the very popular magazine O Cruzeiro during the 50s. The character is invariably betraying somebody. Even today, we call treacherous people “amigos da onça” (friends of the jaguar)

Considered by most the greatest Brazilian writer of the 20th century, João Guimarães Rosa published in 1956 his almost untranslatable “Grande Sertão: Veredas” (The Devil to Pay in the Backlands).

Oscarito and Grande Otelo, the duo of comic artists that marked the golden days of Atlântida, the main Brazilian film producer in the 50s. Here they perform in “De Pernas pro ar”, 1957.

1958 – Brazil wins its first World Cup. In this photo, standing up, Feola, Djalma Santos, Zito, Bellini, Nilton Santos, Orlando and Gilmar. Crunching: Garrincha, Didi, (a very young) Pelé, Vavá, Zagalo and trainer Paulo Amaral.

Singer Angela Maria in the cover of mega-popular magazine O Cruzeiro in 1959

School in the rural area of Verê, state of Paraná, circa 1959. Check the very typical wooden construction, a structure highly influenced by Italian immigrants

João Gilberto releases the first Bossa Nova record in 1959.

1960. Pelé scores 2 goals in the victory of Brazil over Swedish Malmö (1X7)

Construction of Brasília, the country’s planned capital that was inaugurated in 1960.

Glória Menezes and Tarcísio Meira, the most famous couple of actors of Brazilian television, starred the first daily soap opera in 1963: “2-5499 Ocupado”. Gloria’s character is in jail, where she works as a phone operator. Tarcísio falls in love when he hears her voice, not knowing that she is a prisoner.

Roberto Carlos, the Brazilian king of ie-ie-ie, releases one of his early successes, “O Calhambeque”/The Jalopy, in 1965.

Three-time winner at Wimbledon, Maria Esther Bueno was the queen of the world tennis courts between the late fifties and the early sixties

Cacilda Becker, that many consider the best Brazilian actress of all times.

1968. First flight of the Bandeirante, the most successful airplane built by Embraer, the public company that became one of the biggest aircraft builders in the world.

The political prisoners that were exchanged in 1969 for the American embassador, Charles Elbrick, that had been kidnapped by militants of MR-8 and ALN, two groups that were fighting the military dictatorship.

Carlos alberto Torres lifts the 1970 World Cup trophy.

Sticker extremely popular during the iron years of the military dictatorship. It says: “Brazil, Love it or Leave it”

Full-mouthed and irreverent actress Leila Diniz displaying her pregnancy at Ipanema beach in Rio, in 1971, caused a big scandal and still remains the main symbol of the women’s liberation movement in Brazil.
krig-ha-bandolo
Raul Seixas, beloved rock composer and singer, one of the main Brazilian symbols of counterculture and hippie/junkie way-of-life. He left a legion of followers and impersonators.
Trapalhoes
“Os Trapalhões” (The Goofies) was the most successful comedy group of Brazilian TV history. From top left, clockwise: Mussum, Zacarias, Didi and Dedé. Led by Renato Aragão (Didi), an anti-hero and a trickster, they also produced 24 movies watched by 120 million people.

Chacrinha, the psychedelic king of Brazilian TV, and his voluptuous chacretes in the seventies.

The first Brazilian car fueled by sugar cane alcohol, in 1975. Pró-álcool, the official program to promote the use of this alternative fuel, was developed after the early seventies oil crisis.

Journalist Vladimir Herzog was killed in 1975 after a torture session promoted in the midst of political repression. According to official sources, he committed suicide in jail.

Serra Pelada gold rush attracted at least 100 thousand men to the state of Pará, in the Amazon, in the early eighties

This is one of the most memorable covers ever published by a Brazilian diary. Brazil lost the 1982 World Cup, in Barcelona. Jornal da Tarde, now extinct, known for its innovative design, chose to publish this image in its cover, without a title or comments. The whole country new what it was all about.

Brazilian-Argentinian Itaipu dam, the biggest in the world in terms of generation capacity – even bigger than the Three Gorges Dam, in China. It began to operate in 1984.

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Terra (MST), the landless workers movement, was founded in 1984 to promote land reform. Today, it has around 1.6 million members. Photo by Fotos Gov/BA, via Flickr

The million-people-rally in São Paulo, in 1984, here in the cover, once again, of daily Jornal da Tarde. A huge popular movement demanded direct elections to bury the dictatorial years. Nevertheless, direct elections only happened five years later. Unfortunately the image is black-and-white, otherwise you would see most tee shirts were yellow, the convened protest color.

Roque Santeiro, the most successful soap opera of Brazilian TV, was exhibited in 1985, after being banned for 10 years due to military censorship.The over-the-board style of Viúva Porcina, the main female character, interpreted by Regina Duarte, became extremely popular at the time. The story even named a huge shanty town in Angola.

In 1986, president José Sarney asked the population to control the retail’s activities on his behalf, to denounce shops that raised their prices, which was forbidden by the government.
alquimista
Loved by his readers, hated by literary critics, Paulo Coelho published esoteric best-seller “The Alchemist” in 1988. It sold 65 million copies since, a world record.

Pedro Collor details in an interview to Veja magazine a series of corruption crimes (and even sorcery episodes) involving his estranged brother, president Fernando Collor de Mello. This is the beginning of a political process that leads to Collor’s impeachment.

Just like Americans and President Kennedy, most Brazilians remember where they were when they learned that Ayrton Senna, the three-time Formula 1 champion, died. He crashed against a guard-rail during the San Marino Gran Prix, in 1994.

Photo taken in 1998 by Noel Villas Bôas, from a very famous clan of anthropologists. It depicts the Kuarup, an Indian ceremony frequent in the National Park of Xingu, the main indigenous reservation in the country, conceived by the Villas Bôas.
central do brasil
“Central do Brasil” (Central Station), film directed by Walter Salles in 1998. It is considered one of the first great movies of the Brazilian film renaissance, that began a little over 10 years ago.

President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and vice-president José Alencar during the ceremony marking the beginning of his second presidential mandate, in 2007.

Great expeditions to the Amazon

capa AM xx

“Grandes Expedições à Amazônia Brasileira”, written by environmentalist and educator João Meirelles Filho and recently published by Editora Metalivros, is a little gem for those interested in the history of the Amazon region and the very diverse agenda of men and women that explored the region during the last century. The author, that works for Instituto Peabiru, a non profit based in Belém, follows the steps of religious missionaries, Army officers in charge of surveilling the country’s borders, scientists looking for new species and artists in search of inspiration. Among his characters, Silvino Santos, the Amazon first filmmaker, Percy Fawcett, the British explorer that disappeared in the mid-twenties looking for a mythical city in the region, the Cousteau family, sculptor Frans Krajcberg and Botanical painter Margaret Mee.

This is, in fact, a sequel – two years ago Meirelles published a similar book covering 42 expeditions to the Amazon that happened between 1500 and 1930, including those led by writer Euclides da Cunha and naturalists Karl Friedrich von Martius and Johann Baptiste von Spix.

Check some of the amazing images included in the new publication:

Continue reading Great expeditions to the Amazon

Amazing footage of Rio in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…

Carnaval de ruaYou may question the narration and its predictable cliches and prejudices, but these historic footages are true gems. Tough to choose a favorite (ok, if you insist, the 1932’s and the 1955’s are the best).

1932 – Includes a pretty disgusting scene where the narrator mentions the “infinite variety of tropical animals” found downtown, while the camera closes on a cute little Black girl. Also to be noted the comment that carioca’s resent the monopoly of the word Americans by those born in the States. Pay attention also on the explanation about the “butterfly industries” and the ornamental black and white stone pavements.

Continue reading Amazing footage of Rio in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s…

Dzi Croquettes – Rio’s revolutionary cabaret

 “Not men, not women. People”, was their revolutionary motto. They were the Dzi Croquettes, an irreverent androgynous theater company directed by Broadway chorus line dancer Lennie Dale that defied the dictatorship and inspired a whole generation of carioca artists. The so-called besteirol theatre (anarchic, hilarious and politically incorrect) and several slang words and expressions ( Tá boa, santa?) are remnants of their influence.

They became so popular that their performances were finally forbidden, and they decided to tour Europe, where they conquered Paris and even appeared in a Claude Lelouch’s movie. “When I die, I want my show substituted by the Dzi Croquettes”, said legendary diva Josephine Baker. Continue reading Dzi Croquettes – Rio’s revolutionary cabaret

Dzi Croquettes – Rio's revolutionary cabaret

Picture this: in the early seventies, the worst moment of the military rule that installed censorship and strict morality, 13 hairy guys from Rio would wear heavy make up, high heels and miniskirts on a stage. “Not men, not women. People”, was their revolutionary motto. They were the Dzi Croquettes, an irreverent androgynous theater company directed by Broadway chorus line dancer Lennie Dale that defied the dictatorship and inspired a whole generation of carioca artists. The so-called besteirol theatre (anarchic, hilarious and politically incorrect) and several slang words and expressions ( Tá boa, santa?) are remnants of their influence.

They became so popular that their performances were finally forbidden, and they decided to tour Europe, where they conquered Paris and even appeared in a Claude Lelouch’s movie. “When I die, I want my show substituted by the Dzi Croquettes”, said legendary diva Josephine Baker. Continue reading Dzi Croquettes – Rio's revolutionary cabaret

Brazilian meme – Brazil cannot live without honor

A meme is an iconic idea or image, a concept that spreads within a culture. It is sort of a summary of a concept or moment. This post is the first of a series of Brazilian memes. If you have suggestions of similar images, please, let me know.

This litograph – “O Brasil não Sabe, não Pode e não Quer Viver sem Honra” (Brazil Cannot, Would Not, and Will Not Live Without Honour) – belongs to the London Imperial War Museum’s collection. It suggest that men should learn how to shoot to defend their homeland. The museum’s website doesn’t offer any context for this image, but it is easy to guess it was published during the First World War, because the title is a quote of W. Braz, president Venceslau Brás, Brazil’s president between 1914 and 1918 (the country had multiple orthographic reforms since then, so the original stands for Wenceslau Braz), who declared war on the German Empire.

 

 

Fordlandia, an American city in the middle of the Amazon

Photo from the archives of The Henry Ford Foundation/ Flickr

The story of Fordlandia, the now-abandoned pre-fabricated industrial town established by American mogul Henry Ford in the Amazon in the late 20s, is revealed by a new documentary directed by Marinho Andrade and Daniel Augusto. The 51-minute production is beginning to tour film festivals.

Ford invested a little fortune in the project on the banks of Tapajós river, close to Santarém, to secure a source of cultivated rubber for his car assembly lines in Michigan, US. The area was a concession of the Brazilian government. At the time, Fordlandia was one of the most modern cities in the North of the country, with a complete water, sewage and energy infrastructure.

Today, Fordlandia is a mere memory –  as the directors put it, it exposes the “ruins of the capitalist dream”. The documentary tries to understand the reasons behind its failure, which include a malaria outburst, the leaf blight that hit the saplings and a workers riot .

This video clip will give you a little taste of Fordlandia’s days of glory and decadence. It is narrated in English, with subtitles in Portuguese, but some interviews in Portuguese lack subtitles in English.

Also, Atlas Obscura has a really nice set of pictures.