Crafts – Ceramics, lace and other types of Brazilian handicrafts

The first artisans arose in the Neolithic period (6,000 BC) when man learned to polish stone, to make ceramics and to weave animal and vegetable fibers. In Brazil, crafts also emerged during this period. We can think of the Indians as our oldest artisans, since when the Portuguese discovered Brazil , they found here the art of painting using natural pigments, basketry and ceramics – not to mention feather art, ie headdresses, thongs and other garments or ornaments made of bird feathers. Brazilian handicraft is one of the richest in the world and guarantees the livelihood of many families and communities. The handicraft is part of the folklore and reveals uses, customs, traditions and characteristics of each region.

The craftsman is the one who, through his creativity and skill, produces pieces of clay, straw, fabric, leather, wood, paper or natural fibers, raw or recycled materials, aiming to produce utilitarian or artistic pieces, with or without a commercial purpose. He works alone or with assistants and can do single pieces as well as series work, whether or not with the help of rudimentary or semi-industrial tools and mechanisms. [x] They are artisans and artisans: cleavers, engravers, sculptors, painters, potters, lace makers, embroiderers, weavers, those who create musical instruments, trinkets and pieces of wood for daily use, baskets, bowls, quilt and toys, among other things. In many cases, when the objects produced are not of a utilitarian character, that is, they are made only for appreciation, craftsmanship is confused with art. Let’s look briefly at some characteristic examples of Brazilian handicrafts. Pottery and clay dolls Pottery is one of the most developed folk art and craft forms in Brazil. Torn between utilitarian and figurative ceramics, this art made by the Indians later blended with the European barista tradition and African standards, and developed in regions favorable to the extraction of its raw material – clay. In the fairs and markets of the Northeast, you can see the clay dolls that reconstruct typical figures of the region: cangaceiros , retantes, sellers, musicians and lace makers.

The most famous are those of Pernambuco Master Vitalino (1909-1963), who left dozens of descendants and disciples. Figurative ceramics also stands out in the states of Pará, Ceará, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, Espirito Santo, Sao Paulo and Santa Catarina. In the other states, ceramics are more utilitarian (pots, pans, vases, etc.). Income Income, present in clothes, scarves, towels and other articles, has an important economic role in the North , Northeast and South . The so-called cushion or bobbin lace is developed by the hands of lacemakers who work with a cushion, a cardboard full of holes, thread and bobbin (small spindle-like pieces of wood). Brought by the Portuguese and Azorean settlers, this technique is a traditional work from various points of the Brazilian coast. Cardboards are passed down from generation to generation and some motifs are unique to a family. Although lace is not an originally Brazilian product, it has become a local product through acculturation. Carving wood The production of wood carvings is another manifestation of Brazilian material culture, used by the Indians in their constructions, weapons and utensils, boats and musical instruments, masks and dolls. Wood art and craft produce diverse objects with motifs such as nature, the human universe, and fantasy. The frowns, or bowheads, well-known in the São Francisco River , are real or mythological figures, with human or animal forms, usually with expressions of anger, that sailors usually put in front of their boats, to scare off evil spirits. Utensils such as trough, pestle, trough and simple and rustic furniture are also produced by hand. We can mention other productions, such as: mills, mills, vats, and wagons. But the largest handcrafted wood product – with few metal parts – is certainly the ox cart. Baskets and braids The art of braiding fibers, left by the Indians, includes mats, nets, whales, hats, sieves and others. As for decoration, braided objects have a huge variety, explored through geometric shapes, different thicknesses, dyes and other materials. The Indians have great ability for weaving, as their practice and knowledge of braids and basketry is quite developed. In the basket and braided handicrafts, the upper Amazon and Solimões tribes stand out , influenced by the Andean peoples. In manual fabrication, two processes are used, the vertical and the horizontal. The vertical was a process that spread widely among the Amazonian and Mato Grosso Indians, using the process to produce networks. Yarn combinations can produce different textures, with high and low relief effects. It is generally patterned for geometric motifs and straight lines. Only Bahia weavers produce the so-called “cloth of the coast”, which offer figurative patterns. Some geometric patterns are known as: plaid, cat’s foot, swirl, stool, aurora flower, partridge eye, snail, mosquito and comic. The State of Mato Grosso produces networks of intense color through the “plowed” technique.

Maranhão produces the same nets with fine finishes. Pará and Amazonas present in their production rich nets of tucum, a species of flax from the valley. In the North and Northeast basketry, the most used materials are: straw, liana, tucum, taboca, buriti, carnauba, wicker and cattail. In Bahia, in particular, the toilet brush is also used. Indigenous handicraft Each indigenous group or tribe has its own handicraft. In general, the paint used by the tribes is entirely natural, coming from trees or fruits. The adornments and feather art are another important indigenous work. The vast majority of tribes develop pottery and basketry. Baskets are mostly made from palm leaves and used to store food. In ceramics, pots and pots of patterned clay are produced. For music, used as a hobby or in sacred rituals, the Indians developed flutes and rattles.