Write A Brief Essay About Representations Of Brazil As A “Locus Exoticus.”
Representations of Brazil have long alternated between the edenic and the infernal, or between the erotic and the exotic. Using this clip from the animated film Rio as a starting point, and bringing in pertinent readings, discussions and film clips (e.g., Disney’s The Three Caballeros and Carmen Miranda), write a brief essay about representations of Brazil as a “locus exoticus.”
– Thesis must be clear in the introduction + coherent paragraphs (aka no rambling)
– 3-4 pages (about 1200 words in the body)
– Cover page + Works Cited page
– Cite from sources provided + additional sources are okay
b raz i l i ma g i n e d
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee b r a z i l i m a g i n e d
u n i v e r s i t y o f t e x a s p r e s s a u s t i n
Darlene J. Sadlier
1 5 0 0 t o t h e p r e s e n t
Copyright © 2008 by the University of Texas Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America First edition, 2008
Requests for permission to reproduce material from this work should be sent to: Permissions University of Texas Press P.O. Box 7819 Austin, TX 78713-7819 www.utexas.edu/utpress/about/bpermission.html
∞ The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of ansi/niso z39.48-1992 (r1997) (Permanence of Paper).
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Sadlier, Darlene J. (Darlene Joy) Brazil imagined : 1500 to the present / Darlene J. Sadlier. — 1st ed. p. cm. — (The William & Bettye Nowlin series in art, history, and culture of the Western Hemisphere) Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-292-71856-2 (cloth : alk. paper) — isbn 978-0-292-71857-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. National characteristics, Brazilian. 2. Brazil—Civilization. I. Title. II. Series. f2510.s24 2008 306.4’20981—dc22 2008005572
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c o n t e n t s
ch a pter 1 Edenic and Cannibal Encounters 9
ch a pter 2 Paradise (Re)Gained: Dutch Representations of Brazil and Nativist Imagery 63
ch a pter 3 Regal Brazil 106
ch a pter 4 The Foundations of a National Literary Imaginary 132
ch a pter 5 Modernist Brazil 184
ch a pter 6 Good Neighbor Brazil 209
ch a pter 7 From Revolutionary to Dystopian Brazil on Screen 234
Epilogue: Land of the Future 274
Notes 299 Bibliography 335 Index 355
Color section follows page 148
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a c k n o w l e d g m e n t s
I was fortunate to receive a number of grants from Indiana University to support the research and writing of this book. I want to thank the Presi- dent’s Office for an Arts and Humanities Research Award and the College of Arts and Sciences for an Arts and Humanities Institute Fellowship, both of which provided me with time away from teaching. A New Perspectives Grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and a second Col- lege of Arts and Humanities Institute grant supported a research trip to Brazil in 2005. In Brazil I gave lectures on “the Good Neighbor Brazil” at the Universidade de São Paulo and the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio and received valuable feedback from colleagues and students there that contributed to my development of Chapter Six in this volume. I wish to thank Professors Esther Hamburger and João Luiz Vieira for inviting me to speak at their universities. My former Indiana University colleague Silviano Santiago brought to my attention important contemporary sources on the colonial imaginary, and I want to thank him for his advice and friendship. While I was in São Paulo, journalist Leila Gouvêa invited me to an exhibit at the Ateliê Amarelo, where I was fortunate to meet artist Vinicius Berton, who allowed me to represent one of his works in this book. The Rio artist Laerte de Sousa was equally generous in allowing me to include his work in this study. I am also grateful to Carmen Teixeira, who has been a great help whenever I visit the Cinemateca Brasileira in São Paulo. Although not as exciting as places like Rio or São Paulo, Bloomington, the home of Indiana University, does have the world-renowned Lilly Li- brary. The Charles R. Boxer and Bernardo Mendel collections there con- tain rare materials on Brazil, some of which are reproduced in this volume. It was a privilege to teach a course on images of Brazil in the Lilly in 2004, and I want to thank librarian Becky Cape for her knowledge and wit and for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to my students about the Brasiliana materials. Having a pied-a-terre a few blocks from The Newberry Library in Chicago has been a joy, and I was fortunate to discover in the
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William B. Greenlee and Edward E. Ayer collections there additional rare materials, including the little-known Frankfurt edition of Hans Staden’s 1557 account of his captivity in Brazil. Throughout the writing of the book, my longtime colleague and friend Heitor Martins shared with me his encyclopedic knowledge of Brazil, espe- cially in the areas of literature and broadcast and print journalism. There are no words to thank him adequately for his time, counsel, and good fel- lowship. My colleague Juan Manuel Soto provided me with vital techni- cal support, and I appreciate his time and efforts. Fellow Brazilianist Jon Tolman graciously allowed me to reproduce images from a Brasiliana col- lection that originated in the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. Finally, James Naremore encouraged me from the beginning to the end of this project, reading everything that I wrote and providing scholarly critique and editorial advice, all the while being the best companion in life a gal could ever have.
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This book originated in a plan to write a large-scale history of Brazilian literature, showing how different authors have contributed to ideas of Bra- zilian national identity. Had I followed through with my initial aims, the result might have vaguely resembled Peter Conrad’s Imagining America (1980), which describes how certain nineteenth-century English writers who visited the United States imagined the country for their respective readerships. (Niagara Falls, for example, was a mandatory stop for Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells, and others, and it assumed iconic status in their works.) My plan changed, however, when in the course of researching in the Lilly Library and Newberry Library’s Brasiliana collections I began to realize the importance of early cartographic iconography to the formation of the Bra- zilian colonial imaginary. From cartography, it was a short step to studying early woodcuts and copperplate engravings, a topic that I had addressed in an earlier study of Nelson Pereira dos Santos’s 1971 Como era gostoso o meu francês (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), a tongue-in-cheek film about sixteenth-century European expansionism and indigenous anthro- pophagy. Before long, my book had grown to include not only literature but also maps, book illustrations, architecture, painting, films, and broadcast media, and my history of the nation ranged from the sixteenth century to the present. Although my study is broad, even panoramic, I should perhaps make clear at the outset that it is focused on various forms of art or mass commu- nication and takes a particular approach to the question of national iden- tity. By using this last term I mean to designate anything that contributes to the individual subject’s sense of belonging to a nation. Does national identity therefore actually exist? Yes, but as I hope to show, it always exists discursively, as a representation or as an idea that is open to contestation and change over time. How does it take shape in Brazil? In many ways— for example, we can observe its workings through a study of law, politics, religion, and even historical linguistics. My own interests, however, are slightly apart from these matters and indeed from the economic relations,
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technologies, and institutions that determine ideology. Unlike Benedict Anderson’s valuable and highly influential Imagined Communities (1983), which explores many of the material conditions that gave rise to ideas of nationhood, my book exclusively addresses imaginary representations; thus I speak only about the cultural superstructure and allude indirectly to certain concerns of historians, political scientists, and anthropologists. For instance, I have little or nothing to say about constitutional law, definitions of citizenship, geographical-territorial boundaries, industrial economies, or popular customs. I do not deal, except obliquely, with the development of print cultures or representational technologies, and I do not write about the formation of “public spheres” such as the ones that have been theorized by Jürgen Habermas. My subject is the relatively manifest ideological ef- fect of fine art, literature, architecture, film, and television on the shap- ing of “Brazilianness.” The modes of cultural expression I have chosen to analyze are obviously determined by economic and political forces, but in themselves they contribute to the shaping of national identity and give us a window onto political and social struggles. They are worthy of study in their own right and have been given relatively little attention, at least in the academic world, along the lines in which I have tried to discuss them. The process of selecting writers, artists, and works was challenging, partly because I was covering five hundred years in a changing culture. In lieu of an encyclopedic survey of the arts, I constructed a series of histori- cal moments in which one or more art forms become dominant or strongly influential. Thus my discussion of the colonial period focuses chiefly on cartography and visual arts, while in my chapter on the nineteenth cen- tury I give most of the attention to literature. When I reach the twentieth century, the materials under consideration are increasingly public, so that I discuss modern architecture, city planning, films, and television. I have also tried to explore the ways in which both foreigners and native-born Bra- zilians have imagined the country. Anyone who has studied Brazil knows that there are myriad accounts of the nation written by foreign travelers. In recent years, scholars José Car- los Barreiro, Felix Driver, and Luciana Martins have focused attention on nineteenth-century illustrations and writings by such individuals as the French painter Jean Baptiste Debret and various British subjects, including the diarist Maria Graham and naturalists William Burchell and Charles Darwin. The nineteenth century is particularly rich in foreign materials
Introduction | 3
on Brazil because shortly after arriving in Rio de Janeiro in 1808, Dom João VI opened the country’s ports to commerce. Curiously, the image of Bra- zil produced by Brazilians themselves has received far less critical atten- tion. This may explain why most of my Brazilian colleagues and friends assumed that I was focusing exclusively on the outsider or “imperial” gaze. My aim instead is to concentrate on Brazilian materials, occasionally show- ing the relationship between local and foreign imaginaries. In all cases, I have indicated the sociopolitical and economic interests and concerns that played a part in the image-making process. Although I have attempted to provide as many examples of national im- agery as is feasible, by no means is the material exhaustive or complete. The wealth of materials from which to choose is an indication of Brazil’s impor- tance as a New World territory of vast proportions, bountiful resources, and indigenous peoples; as the new home of a transplanted European royal court; as a bourgeois society eager for national independence; and as a mod- ern nation of seemingly endless potential, dubbed by a spellbound Stefan Zweig “the land of the future.” Faced with a massive archive, I have necessarily been selective and tried to be mindful of what Raymond Williams described in The Long Revolution (1961) as the “selective cultural tradition”:
Within a given society, selection will be governed by many kinds of special in- terests, including class interests. Just as the actual social situation will largely govern contemporary selection, so the development of society, the process of his- torical change, largely determine the selective tradition. . . . We tend to under- estimate the extent to which the cultural tradition is not only a selection but also an interpretation. We see most past work through our own experience, without even making the effort to see it in something like its original terms. What analy- sis can do is not so much to reverse this, returning a work to its period, as to make the interpretation conscious of showing historical alternatives; to relate the interpretation of the particular contemporary values on which it rests; and, by exploring the real patterns of the work, to confront us with the real nature of the choices we are making. . . . Every element that we analyze will be in this sense active: that it will be seen in certain real relations, at many different levels. In describing these relations, the real cultural process will emerge. (68–70)
To the best of my ability I have documented and examined representa- tions of Brazil “in something like their original terms.” By this I mean that
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I study specific images in their historical contexts and alongside other im- ages to give a sense of their significance in what Williams refers to as the “lived culture.” My study includes canonical texts as well as other works that, for whatever reason, have been neglected or dismissed. A case in point is the poetry of the nineteenth-century African-Brazilian Luís Gama, a gifted writer who was a contemporary of Castro Alves and Joaquim Na- buco. Unlike Alves and Nabuco, who wrote celebrated (and canonical) anti- slavery works during and after the abolitionist movement, Gama focused on the issue of race itself in Brazil. Among his poems are tour de force satires directed at middle- and upper-class Brazilians of African descent who try to pass as white. Perhaps for that reason, Gama never gained entry into the Brazilian literary canon. My book is concerned with a great variety of nationalistic themes in dis- tinct historical periods and at different cultural levels. I have attempted to show how national identity is shaped in the colonial and postcolonial eras, in times of dictatorship and democracy, and in response to moder- nity and postmodernity. At certain junctures I also indicate how the image of Brazil has been influenced by the politics and culture of other nations, particularly France and the United States. In addition, I realized during the course of writing the book that for the entire time span of its existence, Brazil’s imagined identity has been strongly affected by at least two impor- tant concepts that can sometimes take on different qualitative implications at different historical junctures. The first of these is race, which becomes an important issue from the moment European colonizers encounter indig- enous peoples and which lies behind the present-day recognition that the nation is made up of a multiracial population, much of it black. The second theme is nature, meaning in this case the flora and fauna of the place, and its value as a “natural resource.” From the beginning of the European “dis- covery” of Brazil, the vast and varied landscape has been seen alternately as an exotic Eden, a savage wilderness, and a source of valuable commodi- ties. The contrast in these views of the natural world is vividly evident to- day in the long-unequal distribution of landownership and especially in the ever-increasing conflict between ecology and commerce. Both sides of this conflict tend to cultivate a rhetorical technique called ufanismo, which praises to the point of exaggeration Brazil’s resources. Although largely a characteristic of sixteenth-century texts by Portuguese writers who were
Introduction | �
eager to promote the country’s colonization, ufanismo continues to inflect contemporary writings about the nation. At the outset I emphasize the importance of historiography, cartogra- phy, engravings, and woodcuts to the construction of the first images of Brazil. As I show in Chapter One, among the best-known representations of Brazil were Belgian-born Johann Theodor de Bry’s sensational engravings of indigenous cannibals, images that circulated throughout Europe at the end of the sixteenth century. Those engravings not only refuted earlier im- ages of Brazil as a paradise populated with Edenic inhabitants, as recorded by the Portuguese royal scribe Pero Vaz de Caminha and others, but also helped to bolster and justify an aggressive colonial campaign to enslave and ultimately rid the Brazilian coast of the native presence. In Chapter Two, I show how the contrasting images of Brazil as terres- trial Eden and barbarous land continued to be explored in Dutch paintings by artists who accompanied Prince Johan Maurits von Nassau-Siegen to Pernambuco in the seventeenth century. Although scenes of anthropopha- gy appear on Dutch maps and in other works of the time, they are relatively few and always subordinate to images of passive if not friendly natives, happy African slaves, and an energetic commerce—all of which was de- vised to encourage Dutch colonization. The paradise described in writings by early Dutch visitors is especially evident in the work of Frans Post, who is regarded as the first landscape artist of the New World, and in Albert Eckhout’s ethnographic-style paintings of Indians, flora, and fauna. The Edenic vision became a major topos in the earliest literature written in Bra- zil, and nativist works by poet Manuel Botelho de Oliveira and the Jesuit Vicente do Salvador, among others, extolled the country’s natural beauty and abundant resources. Renowned for his satiric verses, the Bahian poet Gregório de Matos took a different approach by criticizing his bountiful homeland for enriching foreigners at the expense of locals. The discovery of gold and diamonds in the mid-eighteenth century confirmed early proph- esies of Brazil as a land rich in precious stones, which resulted in represen- tations of the country along the lines of a tropical Eldorado. That image contrasted sharply with pictorials and accounts of the brutal treatment and death of African slaves who were brought to Brazil to work the mines and plantations. If Brazil was a paradise on earth for some, it was at best (in the words of the Jesuit Antônio Vieira) a “sweet hell” for those enslaved.
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Chapter Three focuses on the flight of the Portuguese royal court from the Napoleonic invasion and their arrival in Rio de Janeiro in 1808. Early writings by the newly arrived immigrants complained about the lack of civ- ilization in Brazil and drew unfavorable comparisons between the country and the homeland left behind. Following various proclamations and proj- ects to lift the profile of the new royal capital, in 1816 the monarch Dom João VI invited a group of French artists and architects to Rio to train lo- cal talent and design buildings in keeping with Brazil’s newly appointed status as part of the kingdom with Portugal and the Algarve. The opening of Brazilian ports to overseas commerce in 1808 encouraged the arrival of various foreign scientific expeditions that documented flora and fauna and produced ethnographies of its people. Travelers like the British-born Maria Graham and John Mawe kept diaries of their visits that described in detail the problems and impact of imported notions of civilization on a people and nation eager for independence. With the proclamation of Brazil’s independence in 18�� and the begin- ning of the Brazilian empire, a new image came to the fore; and the Indian, who was no longer visible, having died or fled into the interior, became an icon of the recently independent nation. As I discuss in Chapter Four, al- though the Indian had appeared earlier in Brazilian literature, the European romantics, including the Portuguese poet Almeida Garrett and the French Brazilianist Ferdinand Denis, encouraged their Brazilian cohorts to adopt the figure of the noble savage as a national symbol. Meanwhile, as Antônio Gonçalves Dias and José de Alencar were writing popular epic-style works about valiant indigenous warriors and maidens in the wilderness, other in- tellectuals and artists were beginning to write works about life in the city. The desire to forge a national literature moved from discussions of the Indian to debates among urban novelists such as Joaquim Manuel de Mace- do and “regional” writers such as Franklin Távora, and by the latter part of the nineteenth century, the literary image of the nation was split (albeit unevenly) along geographic lines. On the one hand were works of limited circulation about the Brazilian interior with its “exotic” flora and fauna and regional types such as farmers and storekeepers, muleteers and bandits. On the other hand were the more widely published books about the city and the urban middle class. Blacks rarely figured in either genre; when they did ap- pear, they were usually cast as slaves. However, the image of the slave took on new meaning in abolitionist writings and oratory of the period, efforts
Introduction | 7
toward emancipation that were finally rewarded in 1888. Despite emancipa- tion, the suffering slave continued to be evoked in speeches and writings as a metaphor for a nation eager to wrest its freedom from the imperial monarchy. The freeing of the slaves anticipated by one year the overthrow of Emperor Pedro II and the establishment of the republic. At the same time, novelist Machado de Assis was charting a new course for Brazilian literature that shifted emphasis from romantic nationalism to a more cos- mopolitan, proto-modernist sensibility with which he dissected the values and foibles of the growing bourgeoisie. Chapter Five focuses on the images of modernist Brazil, beginning with the Modern Art Week in São Paulo in 19��. Held in the Municipal The- ater during the centennial celebration of Brazil’s independence, the week’s events were an attempt by writers, artists, and musicians to expand on the nation’s cosmopolitan image while emphasizing the importance of its re- gional character. Once again the Indian was called forth as a national sym- bol. Instead of the romantic bon sauvage, however, poet Oswald de Andrade summoned the anthropophagous figure as part of a modernist counter- colonialist strategy: the local culture would ingest (as oppose to emulate) foreign sources in order to strengthen what was endemic to the nation. The desire to “make it new” was especially evident in painting and architecture, in which classical forms gave way to futurism, expressionism, cubism, and other modernist schools. This radical shift in the arts and architecture cul- minated years later with the construction of the futuristic capital, Brasília. The “new way” also produced bossa nova, a cool, hip music whose impact was felt far beyond Brazil. In Chapter Six I examine the 19�0s, when Brazil’s national identity was shaped not only by its own artists but also by the U.S. Good Neighbor policy, which fostered cultural exchanges and an emphasis on both modernity and exoticism. During this time Hollywood transformed Carmen Miranda into a colorful, amiable, and tropical Latin icon—an image that endured long after the end of World War II. In the same period Orson Welles functioned as a goodwill ambassador from the United States; through his aborted film, It’s All True, and his radio programs broadcast from Rio and New York, he emphasized a very different image of Brazil as a racially diverse, culturally rich, and respected wartime ally of the United States. The early oscillating images of Brazil as Edenic and barbarous reemerge in the later part of the twentieth century as Cinema Novo films about the
8 | brazil imagined
utopian possibilities of a poor but developing nation accede to darker pic- tures of a dystopia plagued by corruption, drugs, and violence. I explore these contrasting media images in Chapter Seven, and in many ways they remain at the heart of the country’s view of itself today. The media coverage of Brazil’s growing poverty, violence, and corruption coexists with reports on the country’s emergence as a global economic power—a contradiction that seems more extreme with each passing year. The contradiction is espe- cially evident in the major cityscapes, where towering multinational build- ings and high-end shopping centers appear alongside modest housing and sprawling favelas, or slums. It is impossible to predict what lies ahead for a nation still referred to as “the land of the future”; nevertheless, an examina- tion of the ways the nation has been represented over the centuries should provide us with a better understanding of the imaginary that has shaped Brazil and may shape it in decades to come.
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters
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When the Portuguese nobleman Pedro Álvares Cabral and his armada of thirteen ships left Lisbon on March 9, 1�00, his mission was to sail to the port city of Calicut in India and bring back spices, silks, porcelains, and other valuable commodities.1 Vasco da Gama had opened the sea route to India two years earlier, and the Portuguese monarch, Dom Manuel I, was eager to send a much larger expedition to keep Portugal in the forefront of maritime trade with the East.2 Onboard Cabral’s ship was the royally ap- pointed financial administrator from Oporto, Pero Vaz de Caminha, who was attached to Cabral’s ship as scribe. It was on that trip that Caminha wrote his famous letter of May 1, 1�00, to Dom Manuel, in which he de- scribes the founding of a land that eventually would be called Brazil. There are different hypotheses about why Cabral sailed so far west of Vasco da Gama’s Atlantic route to India that he ultimately sighted Brazil. In his Tratado da terra do Brasil (Treatise on the Land of Brazil), written in 1�7�, the Portuguese chronicler Pero de Magalhães Gândavo attributes the fleet’s southwesterly turn to doldrums that forced Cabral to seek better sailing winds far off the Guinea coast. This course took his armada directly west to Porto Seguro and the coastline of what is today Bahia. According to Brazilian cultural historian Luís da Câmara Cascudo, for a long time the discovery of Brazil was attributed to a storm that caused Cabral to change direction and head south-southwest. But neither Caminha’s letter nor nau- tical charts of the period refer to any inclement weather that might have driven Cabral off course.3 Portuguese literary historian Jaime Cortesão argues that imperialism, and not nature, was the real reason for Cabral’s westerly turn. He contends that with the Spanish already in North America and with the redrawing of the Line of Tordesillas in 1�9� to a more favorable position for Portuguese expansion (370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands), Cabral’s imagina- tion was fueled by the possibility of new Atlantic conquests (Cortesão 1967, 90–91). The German-born medievalist scholar Carolina Michaëlis de Vas-
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concelos argues that Caminha’s letter to the king makes Cabral’s intentions clear, for instead of using the term descobrimento (discovery) when referring to the “Land of Vera Cruz” claimed for the Portuguese by Cabral,4 Caminha used the word achamento (finding). Vasconcelos infers from Caminha’s word choice that the armada did not make a chance “discovery” as the result of weather but a “find” while searching for new territory.5 Her interpretation supports at least one other theory that Cabral had prior knowledge of the new land from earlier navigational sources and that he journeyed westward from Africa to claim it officially for the Portuguese empire.6 Whatever the actual case, together the various speculations about the events and intent surrounding Cabral’s voyage have transformed the “discovery” of Brazil into something akin to legend or myth—as if the “find” in and of itself were somehow insufficient to convey the extraordinary nature of Cabral’s maritime achievement. Given all the different theories and speculations, Caminha’s description of the sighting of Brazil seems almost matter-of-fact: “On this day [April ��], in the evening hours, we sighted land: first of a very high, large and round mountain, and of other, lower mountains to the south of it, and of flat lands with giant groves of trees. The captain gave the name of Monte Pascoal [Easter Mountain] to the tall mountain and to the land he gave the name the Land of Vera Cruz.”7 One might infer from his description that the “finding” was less important to Caminha than what was actually found. Unlike the customary brief messages written to the king by Cabral and other ship captains about the sighting, Caminha penned a lengthy mis- sive (fourteen folios, front and back) that is remarkably detailed and ethno- graphic in its descriptions of the land, the people (Tupiniquims, or Tupis), and their customs. Caminha is modest about his abilities as a scribe, telling Dom Manuel that he is the least equipped to put these matters into writing; nonetheless he assures him that he will strive neither to play up (aformosen- tar, to make beautiful) nor play down (afear, to make ugly) what he has seen. His letter has long been recognized as the official record of the first contact between the Portuguese and native Brazilians. No indigenous documents exist on this or any other encounter between the two groups. As for Caminha’s objectivity, it should be noted that his letter concludes with a petition to the king to grant clemency to his son-in-law, Jorge de Osório, who had been exiled to São Tomé off the west coast of Africa.8 Al- though petitions of this kind were not uncommon, especially when a ser-
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | 1 1
vant of the King provided him with good news, one cannot help but wonder the degree to which Caminha’s request affected his objectivity. It seems un- likely that he would pen anything “ugly” that might displease his sovereign, while he would have every reason to curry favor and write a positive if not exuberant account. Historian José António Costa Idéais has observed that the custom of the alvíssara (a gift given to a bearer of good tidings) was an incentive for the embellishment of events: the better the news received, the more valuable the gift given (in Amado and Figueiredo �001, 113–11�). For centuries, maritime accounts of new lands and peoples were regarded along with charts, maps, and illustrations as historical documents and, therefore, as truth. But Caminha’s reference to the alvíssara is an important reminder that even the most apparently straightforward narratives are produced not in a vacuum but within a context that can bring to bear forces as widely divergent as a family member’s plight, a religious conviction, or a broader ideological position, which in sixteenth-century Portugal was steeped in imperialism and the desire for territorial conquest and global commerce. It should not come as a total surprise, then, that Caminha’s letter offers a very favorable impression of Brazil. Although the armada had landed in one of the more humid areas in the tropics, he described the weather as cool and temperate and compared it with the climate of northern Portugal. He praised in particular the bountiful forests filled with different species of trees (including the dyewood, also known as brazilwood, which would be- come the first commodity exported by the Portuguese), the vast mountain ranges, and the sweet and plentiful waters of the rivers. He was amazed by the abundance of shrimp of a size he had never before seen and by the ma- caws and vibrantly colored parrots of multiple hues. Although he did not see many other birds while on shore, he inferred from the number of trees and forested areas that they were many. Not unlike some ancient and medi- eval myths about remote Atlantic islands, one of which was called Brazil,9 Caminha’s account describes the “island of Vera Cruz” along the lines of the classical locus amoenus (gentle place)10—in this case, a tropical Eden with comely and innocent men and women who are curious about yet shy of the European. This image of a paradise on earth was not unique to Caminha’s letter; indeed, as scholars such as Henri Baudet, E. Barlett Giamatti, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, and Laura de Mello e Souza have pointed out, the biblical garden was repeatedly evoked in writings about the New World.11 It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the name “Brazil”—long associated
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with an imaginary island paradise, not to mention the valuable and coveted dyewoods indigenous to the land—would ultimately replace “the Land of Vera Cruz.” Although Caminha discusses in some detail the topography and wild- life of the new land, most of his narrative focuses on the human inhabit- ants, many of whom carry bows and arrows: “In appearance they are brown, somewhat reddish, and they have good faces and well-shaped, good noses” (folio �, verso). Here Caminha defines the native Brazilians’ facial features in terms of their similarity to Europeans; there is also the suggestion that they are different from the west coast African, whose broader, flattened nose was deemed unattractive by the Portuguese. Caminha remarks more than once on the native inhabitants’ cleanliness, their unusual fitness, and their complete lack of awareness or shame about their nakedness. At one point, he compares their total innocence to that of the biblical Adam, and he praises them over “civilized man” for their personal hygiene and purity of mind. What is particularly interesting to note is Caminha’s use of neu- tral terms, such as “men,” “young women,” “girls,” “people,” and “gallants” to describe the local population. These non-racial, non-ethnic terms would soon be substituted by either tribal designations, such as Tupiniquim and Tupinambá, or by the generic “Indian” (used by Columbus to refer to the Caribbean populations that he believed to be East Indians), or by the depre- catory “savage,” “beast,” and “barbarian.” The ethnographic feel of Caminha’s account is especially evident in his detailed descriptions of the indigenous culture. He refers on various occa- sions to the different dyes used to tint the inhabitants’ bodies. For example: “This one . . . was tinted with red dye on his chest, shoulder blades, thighs, hips, and down to the lower part of his legs, while his stomach and other places were of his own color. And the dye was so red that it would neither wash off nor dissolve in the water. On the contrary, when he came out of the water, he looked even redder” (folio �). Later on he observes: “[There was] one with her thigh from knee to hip and buttock all tinted with black paint and the rest of her in her own color; another had both knees and calves and ankles so painted, and her private parts were so naked and exposed with such innocence that in this there was no shame” (folio 7).12 Caminha also commented on the male tradition of wearing decorative bone fragments and stones in the lower lip, and at one point he seems amused by an old man’s attempt to provoke Cabral, if not silence him: “This old man had his
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | 13
lip bored so deeply that a large thumb could fit into the hole; and in it he wore a large and worthless green stone that closed the hole from the outside. The Captain made him take it out. I know not what devil spoke to him, but the old man took it directly to the Captain in order to place it on his mouth” (folio 7). Caminha noted that like their European counterparts, the men were not circumcised, while the young women’s genitalia were remarkable for their lack of pubic hair. He gave considerable attention to the inhabitants’ hair (or lack or it) as well as to their headdresses and other adornments, many of which were made of bird feathers. Caminha also commented on their basic foodstuffs of seeds and yams and their fear and suspicion of unknown ani- mals such as lambs and chickens that were brought on the ships. When two men were invited to board the captain’s vessel, Caminha described their be- ing treated as if they were visiting royalty. Following a welcome ceremony, they were given food and drink (which they tasted and subsequently spit out); when night fell, they curled up on the floor and fell asleep, and the cap- tain ordered his men to cover them with blankets, and pillows were eased beneath their heads. There is no question that Caminha regarded the native inhabitants as primitive and “other”; in at least two places in the narrative he refers to “taming” the population, and he calls them “bestial” on another occasion. In most instances, however, he preferred to draw comparisons be- tween them and animals of a benign nature—especially with birds whose prized feathers decorated the natives’ heads and bodies. Although the Portuguese and indigenous peoples were unable to under- stand each other’s language (unlike the African experience, no interpreters were available to the Portuguese on this expedition), Caminha nevertheless commented on the Tupiniquim’s purported lack of religious belief. He gave special attention to their curiosity about the Catholic masses conducted while the Portuguese were on shore and approved of the ways they imitated the Europeans by remaining silent during the services and standing and kneeling at different parts of the ceremony. As important as gold, spices, and other precious commodities were potential converts to Christianity who could help the Portuguese empire deter the spread of Islam. Indeed, the Treaty of Tordesillas was enacted specifically to allow the Portuguese and Spanish to claim territories for their respective kingdoms as long as the native inhabitants were non-Christian. For Caminha, the goodness, pas- sivity, and simplicity of the native people and their receptivity to ceremony
1 � | brazil imagined
made them ideal candidates for Christian conversion: “And I believe that were Your Majesty to send someone here to stay longer among them, they will all be converted according to Your Majesty’s desire” (folio 13). He con- cluded his account of the New World by drawing links between Christi- anity, colonization, and commerce. After praising the vast lands, plentiful waters, and gentle climate, he wrote: “However, it seems to me that the best fruit to be taken from this land would be that of saving this people. And this should be the principal seed that Your Majesty should cast here” (folio 13, verso). As the expedition’s leader, Cabral wanted to prove the potential com- mercial wealth of the new land to Dom Manuel, and he immediately dis- patched a ship back to Lisbon with a small cargo of brazilwood (March- ant 19��, �8–�9).13 The vessel also carried Caminha’s letter as well as other communications about the discovery. The rest of the armada continued its voyage to India, where Caminha died in December during an attack by Hindi locals on the Portuguese trading post in Calicut. Although his letter remained unpublished until 1817, it is a prototype of an emerging literary sensibility known as ufanismo, whose rhetoric is characterized by glowing and often highly exaggerated descriptions of New World lands and peoples. In his 1�00 missive, Caminha lays the foundation for subsequent descrip- tions of Brazil as a tropical Eden—an idea that would become a major trope in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century representations of Brazil.14 This im- age confirmed and bolstered the sense of good fortune and accomplishment that was associated with Portuguese expansionism; at the same time, it ul- timately persuaded the monarchy to engage in a more rigorous colonization enterprise.15 As mentioned earlier, Caminha was one of several who wrote to the king, but only two other documents from the 1�00 voyage have survived. In the Carta do mestre João (Letter by Master João), the armada’s surgeon-astrono- mer writes briefly about the newfound “islands” but reserves most of his comments for a discussion of the estrelas da Cruz, or Southern Cross.16 In a much longer document known simply as the Relação do piloto anônimo (Ac- count by the Anonymous Pilot), the unnamed author wrote that they had landed on terra firme, an observation that confirmed Cabral’s belief that they had encountered a continent and not an island as posited by Caminha in his letter’s closing. This is an important observation because history has long credited the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci as the first navigator
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | 1�
to recognize that the territory was a continent. The anonymous report dif- fers from Caminha’s account in one other, significant way. While Caminha only focuses on the new land and its people, the nameless author places the founding of Vera Cruz within the much broader context of the fleet’s expe- dition to India, and he writes about negotiating trade as well as about the loss of men and ships in the battle at Calicut. Although his report is positive in its description of Brazil, it lacks the breadth and ethnographic specificity that makes Caminha’s letter so fascinating to read. The anonymous letter suggests that the discovery of Vera Cruz, albeit fortuitous, was of minor importance in comparison with the fleet’s arrival in India, whose precious commodities were the objective of the voyage. Although Dom Manuel forbade the publication of navigational charts and maps outlining the route to India (Marchant 19��, �97), in the summer of 1�01 he wrote to his Spanish in-laws, the Catholic royal couple Fernando and Isabel, to inform them of finding “Santa Cruz.”17 He was succinct in his account of the new land, stating that it provided logistical support for the expedition, which made repairs and replenished water supplies there. In fact, he made only one brief reference to the people of Santa Cruz, stating that they were nude, innocent, and peaceful. No mention was made of the natural beauty, wildlife, or other resources amply described in Caminha’s narrative. Similar to the account by the anonymous pilot, Dom Manuel’s letter gives far greater emphasis to Cabral’s voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to India, the loss of ships and life in battle and at sea, trade with the East, and the commercial success of the venture. However, prior to writing to his Spanish relatives, Dom Manuel had commissioned the renowned cosmographer Amerigo Vespucci to make a second voyage to Brazil to strengthen Portugal’s claim to the territory.18 In June 1�01, on his way to Brazil, Vespucci wrote a letter to his former pa- tron and friend in Florence, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, from Cape Verde, where he encountered ships from Cabral’s fleet on their way back to Lisbon.19 This letter and subsequent correspondence with Medici brought word of Brazil and Portugal’s successful commercial enterprise in India to the Florentines, and from there, word spread to other parts of Europe. From Cape Verde, Vespucci traveled from what was believed to be the mouth of the Amazon River to the Rio de la Plata region, helping to establish with greater exactitude the line that separated Portuguese from Spanish hold- ings. In a second letter to Medici written after he returned to Lisbon in
16 | brazil imagined
1�0�, Vespucci described the new land in Edenic terms: “sometimes I mar- veled so much at the delicate scents of the herbs and flowers, and the tastes of those fruits and roots, that I thought I must be in the Earthly Paradise . . . What is there to say of the quantity of birds, their plumes and colors and songs and how many kinds and how beautiful they are? (I do not wish to enlarge upon this, for I doubt I would be believed)” (in Formisano 199�, 30–31). Although Vespucci was clearly moved by the riches of the land, he was far more judgmental than Caminha in his assessment of the native popula- tion. Having lived among native Brazilians for nearly a month, he report- ed on their “pagan” custom of body piercing and wearing large bones and stones in their facial holes for the “brutal business” of making themselves look fierce. Caminha’s description of New World inhabitants seems almost pastoral compared to Vespucci’s narrative,20 which comments on their cru- elty in warfare and their anthropophagy:
And at certain times, when a diabolical frenzy comes over them, they invite their relatives and people to dinner, and they set them out before them—that is, the mother [enemy captive] with all the children they have got from her— and performing certain ceremonies kill them with arrows and eat them; and they do the same to the . . . male slaves and the children that have come from them. And this is for certain, for in their houses we found human flesh hung up for smoking, and a lot of it. (In Formisano 199�, 33)
A text often attributed to Vespucci entitled Mundus novus (1�03) enjoyed wide circulation—twenty-two editions of the Latin version appeared by 1�06 (Amado and Figueiredo �001, 3��), and sixty-six editions in six other languages were available by 1��9 (Lestringant 1977, �8])—spreading even greater affirmation of Brazil as a tropical Eden. In both Vespucci’s private correspondence to Medici and in the apocryphal Mundus novus, attention is given to the temperate climate, the bountiful flora and fauna, and the miraculous life spans of the native population.21 Like later narratives about Brazil, certain editions of Mundus novus were illustrated by artists who had never even traveled there. Woodcuts represented native Brazilians as trans- planted classical Greek or Roman figures with long, curly, golden tresses, and a few men even sported beards. One of the earliest of these woodcuts of indigenous Brazilians appears in the 1�0� Basel edition of Mundus novus.
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | 17
Attributed to the German Johann Froschauer, it is a broadside, and its in- scription reads:
This figure represents to us the people and island which have been discovered by the Christian King of Portugal or by his subjects. The people are thus naked, handsome, brown, well-shaped in body, their heads, necks, arms, private parts, feet of men and women are a little covered with feathers. The men also have many precious stones in their faces and breasts. No one also has anything, but all things are in common. And the men have as wives those who please them, be they mothers, sisters, or friends, therein make they no distinction. They also fight with each other. They also eat each other and even those who are slain, and hang the flesh of them in the smoke. They become a hundred and fifty years old. And have no government. (In Eames 19��, �7)
In the center foreground of the woodcut a woman is seated and seems content to watch the children around her, one of whom suckles at her breast. To the far right of the woodcut, two men, one bearded, the other clean- shaven, appear to be in friendly conversation, while another bearded man and young boy are looking back at the nursing mother. In the left corner and behind the mother figure is a group of four people standing around a headless body that is stretched out on its side. Although the body has little definition and could be that of an animal, one of the men is clearly chewing on a limb that has a hand and fingers attached. In the center background of the illustration and hanging from a makeshift rack over an open fire are human body parts, including a head, an arm, and a leg. Although cannibal- ism is far from an Edenic activity, the image in the woodcut has a certain benign, almost pastoral look. In fact, the face of the severed head is turned in the direction of the two men in amiable conversation—as if it were some- how partaking of their fellowship. Despite the fact that Mundus novus and the woodcut’s inscription re- fer to the people’s nakedness, the men and women are depicted wearing headdresses, skirts, and other adornments made of feathers. Moreover, all male and female sexual organs are concealed—even those of the children. It is not clear if the artist had actually traveled to Brazil, but the physical representation of the local population is in many ways more realistic than some later illustrations. Like an iconic signature, two caravels appear in the upper right corner to mark the European presence. This single woodcut
18 | brazil imagined
consolidates a number of tropes emerging in the early part of the sixteenth century: the comeliness of the native inhabitants, the egalitarian or utopian nature of the community, their warring tendencies, and their practice of anthropophagy.22 The popularity of Mundus novus cannot be overemphasized: it announced to readers that a “new world” existed, a faraway utopia of extreme natural beauty—not unlike the Atlantic islands described by myth and lore over the centuries. The German Martin Waldseemüller’s 1�07 map pays homage to Vespucci by affixing the name “America” to the South American conti- nent. And although the descriptions of a cannibal people were disturbing if not terrifying, the emphasis given to the land’s real and potential natural wealth piqued public and private interests about still other riches and won- ders that the New World might hold. A greater focus on commerce was evi-
1.1 Early woodcut of native Brazilians (1�0�). Basel edition of Mundus novus. Spencer Collection, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | 19
dent within just a few years. In his Décadas da Ásia (Decades on Asia), pub- lished in 1���, Portuguese historian João de Barros was extremely critical of the people’s substitution of the name Santa Cruz for the commercially oriented name Brazil:23
Santa Cruz was the name given to that land in the first years, and the cross made out of trees lasted for some years in that place. However, like the devil, the sign of the cross lost its power over us . . . So much of the red wood, known as brazil, came from that land that this name has been taken up by the people and the name of Santa Cruz was lost. It is as if the name of a wood to dye cloth were more important than the name of the wood that gave tincture to all the sacraments by which we are saved and that was spilled on it by the blood of Jesus Christ. And since on this matter I cannot avenge myself of the devil, I advise, on the part of the cross of Jesus Christ, and to all those who read this, that they give to this land the name that was so solemnly bestowed upon it. For under penalty of that same cross that has to be shown to us on our final day, we may be accused of being more devoted to brazilwood than to the cross. And in honor of such a great land, let us call it the “Province of Santa Cruz,” which sounds better than “Brazil” among those who are prudent, since the common people are inconsiderate and unqualified to name properties of the royal Crown. (19��, 1:111)
Nearly fifty years would pass before Dom João III, the successor of Manuel, initiated the process of religious instruction and conversion that Caminha enjoined his monarch to consider in 1�00. In the meantime, the luxurious brazilwood on the coastline became the object of growing com- mercial interest for the Portuguese—as well as for the French, who, refus- ing to recognize the Treaty of Tordesillas, sent expeditions to harvest the trees with the aid of the Tupinambá.24 Because of its aggressive overseas expansionism from Africa to the Far East, Portugal lacked the manpower to prevent other nations, particularly France, from extracting the precious hardwoods whose red dye, used in making the vibrant garments worn by the French royal court, was in increasing demand by the European textile industry (Hemming 1978, 8). The dye also was used to make illuminated manuscripts, and the tree pulp had medicinal properties that cured ills such as inflammation of the eye (Emert 19��, 19). One of the woodcut illustrations in Franciscan André Thevet’s Les sin- gularités de la France Antarctique (The Singularities of Antarctic France),
�0 | brazil imagined
published in 1��7, depicts a Huguenot community founded off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in 1���. In the woodcut, a brazilwood tree is being chopped down by two naked Indians, while a third, attired only in headdress, car- ries a piece of timber on his shoulder in the background. This is not the first illustration to show the commercial importance of brazilwood. In fact, the Portuguese Cantino’s world map of 1�0�, which is regarded as the first to il- lustrate the Brazilian coastline, identifies the territory as both “Vera Cruz” and “Brazil” and uses figures of large parrots and gold, green, and brown trees as symbols of its resources. Nicolau Canério also used trees on his map of Brazil (1�0�–1�06), and brazilwood appears in a legend on charts as early as 1�08 (Emert 19��, 18, 9�). The Portuguese Lopo Homem-Reinel map of 1�19, whose remarkable detail of the coast was no doubt provided through descriptions by Portuguese sailors and merchants, is decorated with tree- toting native Brazilians who serve as iconographic ornaments alongside drawings of tropical birds. A similar image of indigenous inhabitants ap- pears on sixteenth-century wood carvings located in Rouen, a French city that had strong ties to the brazilwood industry (Marchant 19��, ��). Until the measuring of longitude became an accurate science, maps tended to vary in their interpretations of where the Line of Tordesillas was located and consequently where Portuguese possession stopped and Span- ish dominion began. A map drawn in approximately 1�7� by the Portuguese Luis Teixeira and another by the Spaniard Lopes Velasco about the same time show very different territorial divisions. Not surprisingly, Teixeira’s interpretation gives far more land to Portugal than Velasco’s map—the lat- ter of which shows the southwestern part of Brazil belonging to Spain. The Portuguese Vaz Dourado’s map of 1�68 is also generous in its representation of the land under Portuguese control. A much earlier and far more accurate map of Brazil and the placement of the line were produced by the Portu- guese Diogo Ribeiro about 1���.25 Yet despite Brazil’s depiction on maps as a Portuguese possession, the re- ality was that in the first half of the sixteenth century the French were quite successful in extracting timber from Brazil—so much so that in 1�16, King Manuel sent an armada to drive off French ships. However, most French vessels did not even need to touch land, because the Tupinambá rowed out to them to initiate trade. In some ways, the French were more effective than the Portuguese in negotiating with the native inhabitants. They learned the local languages, and a few even took up residence among the Tupinambá
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | �1
and practiced their customs. In exchange for carrying the heavy tree trunks, often over great distances, native Brazilians were given clothing, knives, scissors, tweezers, tools, and trinkets. Somewhat like what occurred during the American Revolution, skirmishes between the Portuguese and French in Brazil resulted in the formation of different tribal allegiances to the two European groups. For example, the Tupinambá, who inhabited the area around Rio de Janeiro, aided the French, while the Tupiniquim, whose lands were in the area of São Paulo, allied themselves with the Portuguese. The success of France’s commercial enterprise in Brazil brought about a change in priorities back in Lisbon. In 1�3�, Dom João III divided the ter- ritory (known and unknown) into vast strips of land called capitanias (cap- taincies), which were given to donatários (generally individuals of the lesser nobility, the middle class, or court favorites) in exchange for which they
1.2 Brazil as parrots and trees on Cantino’s world map (1�0�). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
1.3 Nature and commerce on Lopo Homem-Reinel’s map (1�19). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | �3
would begin the process of colonization: growing crops on fazendas (plan- tations) or roças (smaller farms), building towns, recruiting settlers, pro- ducing offspring, and generally expanding commerce in the New World. However, the barter system employed for so many years by the Portuguese gradually lost its appeal to the native Brazilians, who were no longer in- terested in exchanging hard labor for trinkets. Increasingly, Portuguese farmers and tradesmen took to enslaving indigenous populations, which, in turn, led to resistance and warfare.26 Battles between the Portuguese and the Indian, between the Portuguese and the French, and between rival indigenous groups created an instability that proved disastrous for the capitanias, nearly all of which failed by 1��8. One year later, in 1��9, the monarchy decided to establish a royal govern- ment in Brazil and sent Tomé de Sousa as the territory’s first governor-gen- eral. That same year, the monarchy took up Pero Vaz de Caminha’s sugges- tion and sent the first Jesuit priests to Brazil in an attempt to proselytize the native population. Interestingly, it was neither the Portuguese nor the French who produced one of the most widely disseminated images of Brazil in the mid-sixteenth century. The person responsible was a German by the name of Hans Staden, who wrote a riveting eyewitness account of life among the native inhabit- ants following his capture by the Tupinambá in 1��3. What made Staden’s 1��7 chronicle, Warhaftig Historia und beschreibung eyner Landtschafft der wilden, nacken, grimmigen Menschenfresser Leuthen in der Newenwelt Ameri- ca gelegen (True History and Description of the Land of the Wild, Naked, Fierce, Man-Eating People in the New World of the Americas, translated to Portuguese as Viagem ao Brasil), so engaging was his detailed account of the customs and habits of a cannibalistic people, who were made even more sensational by a series of woodcuts that accompanied the text. It should be noted here that the woodcuts we have come to associate with the Staden text published in Marburg in 1��7 and the “Great Voyages” en- gravings by Theodor de Bry, which will be discussed later, are not the illus- trations that appeared in the Frankfurt edition also published in 1��7. The Frankfurt images are more elaborate and deserve a brief commentary. For example, although Staden was writing about his capture by the Tupinambá, the Frankfurt illustrations have nothing to do with Brazil. They are largely orientalist in appearance, depicting turbaned sultans and merchants, cam- els and elephants, and an occasional figure that might be an Amerindian.
�� | brazil imagined
There is no king in Staden’s account, yet the image of a king appears at different junctures in the illustrations: in one scene he is sitting in a din- ing room in a castle, and in another, he is outdoors with various animals. Whether it was Staden (which seems unlikely), the publisher, or someone else who incorporated these images into the text is not clear. What is certain is that at some point they were deemed appropriate and desirable for the book, and no distinction was made between the New World and Europe or the Far East. One of the woodcuts stands in ironic juxtaposition with Staden’s de- scription of mutilations and anthropophagy in the chapter titled “How the Tupinambá Treat Their Prisoners upon Their Return” and was used on the cover of the book. It is one of the only images that has some relation to the narrative, and yet instead of a Tupinambá, it depicts a European male who looks like a sailor clothed in knee breeches, open vest, and a head band, holding a cleaver in his hand, and standing over a headless body. The illus- tration is all the more ironic because it includes still other European types who look like castaways, seemingly unfazed by the act of dismemberment. In a note to his preface for the 1930 Portuguese translation of the German edition, Alberto Lofbren tells us that a Dr. Dryander proposed new wood- cuts be made for the text, since the original Frankfurt ones had nothing to do with the narrative. His point is certainly true, even though the illustra- tion of mutilation has at least a tangential relationship to the text. But one can imagine that that image in particular was troubling to Dr. Dryander. It was one thing to represent mutilation at the hands of an Indian; it was quite another to suggest that a European was capable of such an act—even though that was historically true.27 Among the woodcuts supplied for the Marburg edition are depictions of village life, tribes combating one another, a naked European captive (presumably Staden) in the company of his naked hosts, and the prepara- tion (depilation, killing, cutting up, roasting) and consumption of enemy prisoners. Staden is graphic in his description of the Tupinambá’s anthro- pophagy, and the woodcuts, though crude and lacking in detail, show gro- tesque scenes such as a man’s body being slit up the back and a human head sticking out of the top of a roasting pot. Several other woodcuts portray the community’s preparation and ingestion of the captive-meal. What is perhaps most startling about the illustrations is that, with the exception of the captive’s execution, which was always carried out by a male, all oth-
1.4 Cover of the Frankfurt edition of Hans Staden’s witness-captive account, War- haftig Historia (1��7). Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
�6 | brazil imagined
er aspects of the cannibalist act are generally associated with women and children (who receive relatively little attention in Staden’s narrative). For example, a woodcut of women and children shows them consuming the contents of two large platters placed on the ground. There is a certain irony in this picture: without knowledge of the text, one could easily interpret the image (which lacks a certain detail) as yet another representation of the idyllic life—this time of harmless naked mothers with their naked children at their side who are joyously partaking of a meal in the out-of-doors. As we have seen, Staden’s account was not the first to describe cannibal- ism in the New World, but his narrative certainly had the greatest impact of any of its time. Ultimately, the internecine feuds between tribal groups, their participation in the Franco-Portuguese struggle, and their resistance to slavery resulted in another image of the indigenous people as savages, in
1.5 Woodcut of women and children eating, in the Staden Mar- burg edition (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | �7
the minds of many Europeans, despite the violence and brutality practiced by the Portuguese and French in their battle to profit from the land. More- over, woodcuts such as those in Staden’s book often circulated indepen- dently of the written text, and the dissemination of images of naked beings engaged in anthropophagy became even wider. By mid-century, a discourse had emerged based on reports and woodcuts of savages and cannibalism, and this discourse appeared alongside accounts and images of docile resi- dents in a tropical Eden. Perhaps nowhere were the contradictory images in evidence more than in an engraving titled Figure des brèsiliens from a 1��1 French manuscript that describes in detail a simulacrum of Brazilian indigenous life con- structed in 1��0 on the banks of the Seine in the city of Rouen.28 The occa- sion for this lavish construction was King Henri II and Queen Catherine’s official arrival and entry into the city. Apparently it was common for towns to stage reenactments of significant historical events to honor the arrival of the royal court. In this case, it appears that Rouen chose to fashion a unique
1.6 A Tupi village in Rouen (1��1). Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
�8 | brazil imagined
spectacle based on its special relationship with an exotic land that served its (and the king’s) commercial interests. The spectacle required considerable investment: fifty native Brazilians were imported for the event; foreign-looking trees and shrubs were planted to simulate a tropical forest; two complete Indian villages were constructed; ��0 French sailors and prostitutes role-played in the nude in order to fill out the native cast; and parrots and monkeys were released into the faux-wil- derness set. In his essay “Strange Things, Gross Terms, Curious Customs: The Rehearsal of Cultures in the Late Renaissance” (1988), Steven Mul- laney describes the various scenes portrayed in the 1��1 engraving, which is the only pictorial representation of the spectacle. Most interesting for our purposes are his descriptions of a man and woman who “strike a pose that recalls period illustrations of Genesis” (71); a few others who are walking hand in hand or engaged in making love; and many more who are making war with clubs, spears, and bows and arrows. Mullaney observes:
Along with its version of Edenic pastoral [the engraving] reveals a land of un- biblical license and enterprise. Some of the couples are partially obscured in the underbrush, taking advantage of the cover to indulge in relatively unabashed foreplay; men are hewing trees, then carrying them to the river to build primi- tive barks. The soft primitivism of biblical tradition coexists with a harder in- terpretation of pagan culture, akin to the portraits of barbaric life composed by Piero di Cosimo. (71)
As for the various representations of warring tribes in the engraving, Mullaney informs us that a battle between two rival indigenous groups was staged upon Henri’s arrival and that in the course of the simulated struggle one of the villages was burned to the ground. An encore performance of the battle was staged the next day in honor of Catherine’s arrival, during which the second village was torched and destroyed (7�). In his book Can- nibals (1997), Frank Lestringant comments on a watercolor miniature of the spectacle that shows Henri observing a battle staged between French and Portuguese ships on the Seine. He also calls attention to a verse that appears alongside the miniature, which celebrates the French king’s rule: “Thy power to the cannibals extends: / Faithless to others, they remain our friends, / And in those islands we may safely dwell” (��).29 Whether it was for religious purposes alone or because the French had fostered such close alliances with indigenous groups that they rigorously
Edenic and Cannibal Encounters | �9
challenged Portugal’s political and economic sovereignty or because there were increasing reports and illustrations circulating about pagan acts in the New World, Dom João III sent the first group of Jesuits to Brazil to begin their crusade to convert the Indians to Christianity. In a letter written to his reverend superior in the spring of 1��9, the Jesuit Manoel da Nóbrega was optimistic about the new land, stating that it was “good and healthy” and that the Jesuits themselves were in good health, in fact, “in better health than when [they] left [Lisbon]” (1988, 7�). His first impressions of the indigenous community were also quite positive. According to Nóbrega, the natives were eager to learn Christian doctrine, and they wanted to be like the Europeans (7�).30 Nóbrega’s observations seemed to agree with Caminha’s earlier remarks about the docility of the native Brazilians and the potential ease of Chris- tian conversion:
If they hear the call for mass, they respond and . . . do everything, kneel, beat their chests, [and] raise their hands to the Heavens. One of their principals is already learning to read and he takes lessons with great care every day, and in two days he learned the entire ABCs. And we have taught him to cross himself, and he takes in everything eagerly. He says that he wants to be a Christian and no longer eat human flesh, nor have more than one wife, and other things . . . These are people without any knowledge of God. They have idols and do every- thing that they tell them to do. (7�–73)
Ironically, Nóbrega’s accounts of Europeans in the New World were less positive: “they live in mortal sin, and there isn’t a one of them that doesn’t have many black [indigenous] women by whom they have many children and it is a great evil” (7�). It has long been established that because Por- tuguese women did not participate in the early colonization of Brazil, in- terracial relationships between European males and Amerindian females were common, and many mixed-race children were born. Nóbrega con- demned the colonizers’ libidinous acts,31 and he encouraged his superior to send Portuguese women—even if they were erradas (wayward), stating that “they will marry well” (80)—but the monarchy did little or nothing to respond to the Jesuit’s complaint.32 Regardless of how it came about, active procreation meant more royal subjects in the colony, and this fact alone was enough to please the Crown. Nóbrega’s letters praised the new land and its people. The air was good,
few of the people fell ill, and there were delicious fruits and excellent fish in abundance. He commented on the unusual and plentiful wildlife, “almost all of which was unknown to Pliny” (89), and he described the extraordi- nary variety of herbs—far more diverse than what could be found in Spain. With regard to the territory’s size, he wrote in terms that were clearly ufani- sta in spirit: “The region is so large that, they say, of the three parts into which the world is divided, [Brazil] would occupy two parts” (89). His de- scriptions of the Brazilian natives focused on their innocence, their warlike activities (which, he was quick to point out, were based on blood vengeance and not greed), their ritual of bringing captives to live in their communities before killing and consuming them; and their practice of burying the dead in an upright position with a clean hammock and plates of food placed on top of the grave (91, 100). Nóbrega acknowledged that the process of religious conversion was not without its challenges and problems; he articulated this most effectively in 1��� in his Diálogo sobre a conversão do gentio (Dialogue on the Conversion of the Indian), an important early work of Brazilian literature about the need to find unity of purpose between the often antagonistic lay and re- ligious groups in the colonial community.33 In 1��0, he wrote about a war being waged by a former convert who convinced a tribe in the interior that the governor-general was out to enslave or kill them and that the Jesuits were using conversion to turn more of them into slaves (10�)—all of which ultimately proved to be true. Tensions also steadily grew between settlers and the Jesuits because of the latter’s desire to spare the Indians from the labor forced upon them by colonizers who, according to Nóbrega, were lazy and practiced all kinds of vices (110). At the same time, the Jesuits were not loathe to use converts to tend their missions’ crops and to carry out other tasks. Salvation came at a price—as the renegade convert’s acts made clear. And while Nóbrega and other Jesuits condemned the enforced slavery of Indians by the settlers, he was not hesitant to ask his superior in Portugal to send African slaves to work in the missions (130). In later letters, Nóbrega expounded upon the sins of the settlers, the dif- ficulty of retaining converts in the mission, the desirability of converting as many of the children of the enslaved as possible, the need for more white women in the colonies, and the continuing battles among Europeans under the command of a later governor-general, Mem de Sá. In one of his final letters, addressed to the Infante Dom Henrique in 1�60, he described Mem
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de Sá’s expedition to Rio de Janeiro with the Portuguese allies, the Tupin- iquim, and the subsequent Portuguese victory over the French, who had built settlements in the region. Nóbrega was part of that expedition, and he was pleased to report the victory over the Calvinists, the French Huguenots, and their Indian allies, who were living in a fortified settlement called Fort Coligny on an island in Guanabara Bay. Early residents of that community included the French Admiral Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon, the founder of the island colony, and religious leaders Jean de Léry and André Thevet, all of whom wrote about life in the New World’s “Antarctic France.” In 1��6, Villegaignon had obtained permission from Henri II, by way of the admiral of France, Gaspard de Coligny, and the cardinal of Lorraine, to establish a colony that would be a religious haven for Catholics and Prot- estants alike.34 Apparently Henri II was favorably disposed to the request because it opened the possibility of increased brazilwood trade between France and Brazil (Whatley 1990, xx), and French Protestant theologian and Reformed Church founder John Calvin sent a group of missionaries to the island community to provide instruction. But just as the island experi- ment got under way, fierce theological debates broke out between the two groups—debates that were exacerbated by Villegaignon’s tyrannical lead- ership. Lacking material support from the indigenous population and with the Portuguese pressing for control, Villegaignon ultimately abandoned Fort Coligny, which came under Portuguese control in 1�60—as noted by Padre Nóbrega in his letter of that same year. Villegaignon’s letter to Calvin is a fascinating document: it makes clear the Huguenot community’s general lack of preparedness for living in Ant- arctic France, as well as Villegaignon’s personal dissatisfaction with the land and particularly the native inhabitants:
The country was all wilderness, and untilled; there were no houses, nor roofs, nor any use of wheat. On the contrary, there were wild and savage people, re- mote from all courtesy and humanity, utterly different from us in their way of doing things and in their upbringing; without religion, nor any knowledge of honesty or virtue, or of what is just or unjust; so that it seemed to me that we had fallen among beasts bearing a human countenance. (In Léry 1990, xlix)35
Among those who accompanied Villegaignon to Brazil was the Francis- can friar André Thevet, who served as the community’s chaplain. However, after just ten weeks in Brazil, he returned to France, where he published
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Les singularités in 1��7—the same year that Staden’s captive-witness account appeared. Thevet’s book had a tremendous impact on readers not only be- cause of its detailed descriptions of New World inhabitants and their cus- toms, which included accounts of cannibal rituals, but also because of sev- eral woodcuts and the first engravings or taille-douce images ever to appear in a Paris publication (E. Pinto 19��, 19). Thevet was exceedingly proud of having contracted the finest engravers from Flanders to illustrate his text, and the book sold well despite reservations by critics that his narratives were exaggerated if not outright fanciful. In his preface to the Portuguese translation of the book, Estevão Pinto notes that critics especially objected to Thevet’s literary pedanticism or at- tempts to make matters of little consequence seem polemical, his excessive quotes from Greek and Latin philosophers, and his lack of common sense (�0). At the same time, Thevet’s ethnographic descriptions of indigenous life, as well as his commentaries about animals such as the preguiça (sloth) and javali (wild boar), various birds (Thevet apparently gave the large-beaked toucan its name), and plant life were instructive and highly regarded. In his book, Thevet remarked on the cordial welcome the Huguenots received from the New World inhabitants, whom he referred to as “savages” throughout the text and who offered the a range of local foods, including farinha, a diet staple made from manioc. He compares the banquet of food to the feast described by Virgil in his description of Dido’s offerings to the Trojans—except that the Trojans had a “good and old wine,” while the French were only given drinking water (163–16�). Accompanying this ac- count is an artful drawing of one of the primary foodstuffs of the country, a large, leaf-covered manioc root whose design clearly resembles a phallus. In the following chapter, Thevet discusses the abundance of fish in the waters off the island, including “monstrous” species such as the panapaná. The ac- companying engraving of this unusual fish must have impressed readers. Like the manioc root, the panapaná drawing takes up an entire page; its two blunt-shaped heads are attached to a long body with fins that is distinctly phallic in shape. Other engravings of a long potato, a huge pineapple, and a toucan with an immense beak are similarly phallic in design. It is as if nature were reigned by a large and potent penis, which was also a metaphor for the uninhibited nature of the indigenous community. In other discussions of the native inhabitants, Thevet seems to repeat Pero Vaz de Caminha’s commentary when he stated that they had neither
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faith nor religion; he further contended that they had neither law nor civi- lization (culture). Later on, he contradicted himself by describing the In- dians’ belief in the god Tupã and commenting that divine representatives among the tribe were known as pajés. At one point in the narrative, Thevet gives thanks to his God for his being given the ability to reason, and he ex-
1.7 The panapaná in Thevet’s Les singularités (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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presses even deeper gratitude for being of a race distinct from that of these “brutes” (17�). Although Thevet’s accounts and judgments make clear his uneasiness with the indigenous people and their “barbarous” ways, he does challenge certain popular beliefs based on iconic representations of the “savages” as hirsute beings:
Many believe, unwittingly, that these people, whom we call savages, have bod- ies covered with hair like bears, deer and lions because they live almost like ani- mals in the woods and fields. And this is the way they [outsiders] paint them on their rich canvases. In other words, whoever wishes to describe a savage must attribute him with abundant hair from his toes to the top of his head—a char- acteristic as much his as the color black is to the raven. Such an opinion is entirely false, although some individuals, whom I have had occasion to hear, obstinately insist and vow that savages are hairy. If they are so certain of this fact it is because they have never seen a savage. But this notion is the general consensus. I, however, who have seen them, know and confidently affirm the opposite. The indigenous inhabitants . . . leave the maternal womb as beautiful and clean as children born in Europe. If with the passage of time hair appears on certain parts of the body, as it happens with any person—they pull it out with their fingernails, maintaining only the hair on their heads. This is a custom to which they attach much honor—the men as much as the women. (191)
This passage is intriguing because while Thevet decries the falseness of popular and painterly images of native Brazilians as hairy beings, he offers equally questionable visual representations of the native population. This is especially true in the engravings entitled “Tobacco Smoker and Maker of Fire,” in which the male figure, who is smoking a large, phallic-looking roll of tobacco leaves, closely resembles a figure out of Greek mythology, and “Massacre of Prisoners” and “Amazons,” in which indigenous women resemble Greek warriors with bows, arrows, and shields.36 The engraving “The Preparation of Cauim” looks more like a pre-Raphaelite drawing in which women with long, wavy tresses bend gracefully over a kettle while two males in the background resemble Roman senators (albeit unclothed) in private conversation. Although Thevet is interested in authenticity, the Flanders artists whom he had employed had never been to Brazil and were as unknowledgeable as
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the painters whom Thevet critiques. Yet unlike the 1�0� graphic representa- tions of the New World, these have a greater authenticity if only because they depict the native inhabitants in their nakedness. There is also a defi- nite distinction in the way the illustrations portray the naked body. Several of the illustrations, like the ones described in the paragraph above, make clear that for some Europeans artists the naked body, regardless of whose it was, needed to conform to notions drawn from canonical art. Thus, certain figures in Thevet’s book are classical in design, with muscular thighs and buttocks and long, flowing tresses. In “The Smoker of Tobacco” engraving, the naked “maker of fire” resembles a satyr out of Greek mythology. A few more crudely drawn illustrations, like those in Staden’s text, depart some- what from this style of representation. In “The Harvest,” naked men and woman are more narrow than muscular in physique, and there is a clear attempt to draw a comparison between the human form with its headdress and the birds and trees with their feathers and fronds that appear in the surrounding natural setting.
1.8 Amazons in Thevet (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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One of the most powerful and detailed illustrations is a head-and-shoul- ders portrait of the Tupinambá leader Cunhambebe, whom Thevet de- scribes as the “most feared of the country’s principals” (318). He adds: “This leader considers himself so powerful that he passes the time recounting his great feats, considering it the highest honor and glory to have decimated and devoured numerous people—some five thousand, as he affirms. There is no human memory of such a cruelty” (3�0). Perhaps it is because Cun- hambebe’s bodily lower stratum is not shown, but the illustration is very different from others in the book. He appears with the executioner’s club in hand—a pose similar to a king with his scepter—yet his large eyes with dramatic dark circles underneath have a vaguely hostile look. The portrait
1.9 Tupinambá leader Cunhambebe, in Thevet (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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is even more unusual because of the heavy eyebrows—a feature that was rare for native Brazilians, as they were very particular about removing all facial hair. The artist has also given him a slightly bulbous nose, while a round plug juts out from his chin just beneath his fleshy lips. He is bald, and his furrowed brow is partially covered by a crown made of short feath- ers; an earring dangles from a hole in his ear, and a short shell necklace is wound twice around his strong-looking neck. The portrait makes clear that he is the dominant force in his land, for even the mountains and trees in the engraving appear small and subordinate to his presence. An equally compelling engraving depicts a sariguê (a marsupial) that looks more like a mythical creature with its gargoyle-like head, its long and exaggeratedly narrow back, and its enormous plume-like tail (3�9). But while the image suggests a fierce and fantastic creature, Thevet’s descrip- tion shows that there is little connection between word and image: “[The animal] is a little larger than a kitten, its fur is fine like velvet with gray, black and white markings. Its feet look like those of an aquatic bird” (3�7). The part of the book that most captivated readers was Thevet’s descrip- tion of the battles between enemy tribes and the cannibal ritual following the capture of prisoners. In one of the few references to Villegaignon, The- vet informs the reader that the French admiral, unlike the Portuguese mon- archy, forbade under penalty of death the coupling of his followers with the local populations, stating that “it was an act unworthy of Christians” (���). It is not clear if Villegaignon’s law was meant to protect the local inhabit- ants or simply another instance of his puritanism and racial intolerance. The engravings that accompany this part of the text are fascinating in their grotesqueness. In the foreground of Scene of Cannibalism, an Indian male chops apart a headless corpse while an Indian woman pulls out a long piece of entrails from the body cavity. In the background various activities are taking place: two men are roasting body parts over a rack while two other men carry the severed leg of another captive, whose decapitated head is the object of in- terest of two small children. There is a certain irony in what is being illus- trated, which harks back to one of the original woodcuts mentioned earlier. Because of their partially shorn heads and European features, the males who are hacking, cooking, and carrying body parts look more like monks or friars who just happen to be naked than like representatives of the Am- erindian population.
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Despite the skeptical critical reception of Les singularités, the book was popular with readers, and poets of the period hailed Thevet as the new Ja- son of the Argonauts and modern-day Ulysses (Whatley 1990, xx). Nearly twenty years later, in 1�7�, he published La cosmographie universelle, a revised version of his first book that contains an added commentary in which he attacks the Calvinists for conspiring against Villegaignon and for causing the collapse of the religious experiment. Among the Calvinist missionaries who were sent in 1��6 to participate in the island experiment was Jean de Léry, who was dubbed the “traveling Montaigne” (E. Pinto 19��, �9) after the publication in 1�78 of his Histoire d’un voyage au Brésil, one of the most important accounts of New World colonization in French. Following the execution of four Calvinists by Vil- legaignon for purportedly plotting against him, Léry and the other Calvin- ists fled the island colony and settled on the coast, where they lived among the Tupinambá. Léry stayed there for nearly a year, until 1��8, when he re-
1.10 Cannibalistic activity in Thevet (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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turned to France to find Thevet’s Les singularités in print. Published twenty years after his own Brazilian adventure, Léry’s Histoire partly rebuts The- vet’s work in a long preface that charges the friar with making false accu- sations against the Calvinists. Léry further claims that Thevet’s revisions in La cosmographie are even more fanciful and fallacious than his original accounts in Les singularités.37 Léry’s book is remarkable for its detailed descriptions of the island ex- periment and his firsthand account of life among the native Brazilians— parts of which seem to have been influenced by earlier writers, including his Franciscan rival Thevet. Like Staden and later Thevet, Léry also refutes the notion that the “savages” are covered with hair.38 Léry reported, as did Vespucci several decades earlier, that the native Brazilians enjoyed an un- usual longevity, and he discussed many topics that already had been cov- ered by Staden—not all that surprisingly, as both men lived among the na- tive Brazilians for considerable periods of time. However, Léry’s rhetorical style is more engaging than that of Thevet or Staden. He is especially adept at drawing readers into his remarkable narrative, helping them to imagine what New World inhabitants looked like through detailed descriptions and an accompanying engraving:
[I]f you would picture to yourself a savage . . ., you may imagine in the first place a naked man, well formed and proportioned in his limbs, with all of the hair on his body plucked out; his hair shaved in the fashion I have described; the lips and cheeks slit, with pointed stones or green stones set in them; his ears pierced, with pendants in the holes; his body painted; his thighs and legs blackened with the dye that they make from the genipap fruit that I mentioned; and with neck- laces made up of innumerable little pieces of shell that they call vignol. . . . To fill out this plate, we have put near this Tupinambá one of his women, who, in their customary way, is holding her child in a cotton scarf, with the child hold- ing on to her side with both legs. Next to the three is a cotton bed made like a fish net, hung in the air, which is how they sleep in the country. There is also the fruit that they call ananas [pineapple], which, as I shall describe hereafter, is one of the best produced in this land of Brazil. For the second contemplation of a savage, remove all the flourishes described above, and after rubbing him with a glutinous gum, cover his whole torso, arms and legs with little feathers minced fine, like red-dyed down; when you have made him artificially hairy with this fuzzy down, you can imagine what a fine fellow he is.
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[. . .] Finally, if you add . . . the maraca in his hand, the plumed harness that they call araroye on his hips, and his rattles made of fruit around his legs, you will then see him . . . equipped as he is when he dances, leaps, drinks and capers about. As for the rest of the devices that the savages use to bedeck and adorn their bodies . . ., you would need several illustrations to represent them well, and even then you could not convey their appearance without adding painting, which would require a separate book. (Léry 1990, 6�, 6�)
The illustration that complements Léry’s description is a full-length por- trait of an Edenic family that appears loving and contented. Only the male is displayed in full nakedness, and although his head with its shorn hair and adornments have an indigenous look, his body and its pose are remi- niscent of Michelangelo’s David. The woman and child are equally interest- ing: her body is largely concealed behind the man’s; nonetheless, we can see part of a plump leg and her European features and light, wavy tresses. Like her, the chubby child in her arms looks more European than indigenous, and his pose is classic—almost religious, as he gazes at the viewer with his hand gently cupped under his mother’s chin. Although not as puritanical as Villegaignon or Thevet, Léry also wanted to correct the official record about the libidinousness purportedly provoked by the nakedness of the Indian women. He observes: “While there is ample cause to judge that, beyond the immodesty of it, seeing these women na- ked would serve as a predictable enticement to concupiscence; yet, to report what was commonly seen at the time, this crude nakedness in such a woman is much less alluring than one might expect” (Léry 1990, 1�1). The comment may have been true for the Calvinist but certainly not for the Portuguese, who, according to Nóbrega, were drawn to and mated with as many local women as possible. Even the illustrations in Léry’s own text contradict his assertion, although like most of the engravings of sixteenth-century Brazil, they were at least as much the product of imagination as a reflection of any reality. Léry is especially effective in describing the rituals of honor and blood vengeance that involved anthropophagy. Personal anecdotes appear throughout his account of the capture, execution, and ingestion of the en- emy. Emphasis is on the ritualistic aspect of the event: both captive and captor performed a series of acts and pronounced words that were expected
1.11 Tupi family in Léry’s Histoire (1�78)
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by both parties. Léry recalls attempts by himself and other Frenchmen to save both Portuguese and indigenous captives. His comments are interest- ing on this matter and show that despite the war between the French and Portuguese at the time, Europeans often banded together against the In- dian. In fact, once the French were driven out of Brazil in 1�60, the Portu- guese attacked and killed not only the French allies, the Tupinambá, but also the Tupiniquins, their own allies against the French. As for indigenous captives, Léry recounts that he once saved a woman by purchasing her from her enemy-captor. But when he told her that he would ensure her safety by sending her to Europe, she told him she preferred the honor of being a prisoner and a swift execution over a prolonged, empty life in a foreign land (�01). What distinguishes Léry from others at the time who wrote about can- nibalism was his observation that European readers should not be overly judgmental about descriptions of anthropophagy and other indigenous practices. In his view, Europeans, out of greed or intolerance, regularly en- gaged in atrocities far worse than cannibalism:
In the first place, if you consider in all candor what our big usurers do, suck- ing blood and marrow, and eating everyone alive—widows, orphans and other poor people, whose throats it would be better to cut once and for all, than to make them linger in misery—you will say that they are even more cruel than the savages I speak of. . . . Furthermore, if it comes to the brutal action of really (as one says) chewing and devouring human flesh, have we not found people in these regions over here, even among those who bear the name of Christian, both in Italy and else- where, who, not content with having cruelly put to death their enemies, have been unable to slack their bloodthirst except by eating their livers and their hearts? And without going further, what did we see in France? (I am French and it grieves me to say it.) During the bloody tragedy that began in Paris on the twenty-fourth of August 1�7�— . . . among other acts horrible to recount, which were perpetrated at that time throughout the kingdom, the fat of human bodies (which, in ways more barbarous than those of the savages were butchered in Lyon after being pulled out of the Saône)—was it not publicly sold at auction to the highest bidder?—an act far more barbarous than that of the savages? . . . There are thousands alive today who beheld these things never before heard of among people anywhere, and the books about them, printed long since, will bear witness to posterity. (13�)
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The Jesuit José de Anchieta, who arrived in Brazil in 1��3, seemed to agree with Léry’s assessment in his Informação do Brasil e de suas capitanias (Infor- mation About Brazil and Its Captaincies), published in 1�8�. Author of the first grammar of the Tupi language as well as poetry and plays called autos and written in Tupi, Anchieta was impressed by the valor and honor of the indigenous peoples in war, in contrast to the cruel and inhumane ways of the European: “They [the Indians] are naturally inclined to kill, but they are not cruel: Ordinarily they do not torment their enemies, and if they do not kill them in battle, they treat them very well, and then content them- selves with striking the enemy’s head with a club, which is an easy death. At times they kill with a single blow or at least they knock their enemies out. If they practice any cruelty, even rarely, it’s because of the example given to them by the Portuguese and French” (1988, 337). It may be interesting to speculate a bit here why Nóbrega, Anchieta, and Léry were so eager to take up the cause of native Brazilians against the European settlers. On the one hand, we know that Portuguese Jesuits were constantly writing to their superiors in Lisbon about their success in converting Indians—which became their main reason and purpose for be- ing in Brazil.39 The letters of Anchieta and Nóbrega take pains to argue that any pagan custom practiced by the Indian was neither an obstacle to conversion nor any worse than the far more lascivious and cruel acts of their colonizer compatriots. Anchieta’s plays are all about the goodness to be achieved by Indians who relinquish their old ways, a lesson that scores of them followed—unlike the Portuguese colonists, who tended to ignore the Jesuits’ teachings on Good and Evil.40 We know, too, that the Jesuits became increasingly at odds with the settlers, who looked to the indigenous peoples as free slave labor for their farms and plantations. Proselytization also meant that new converts would be “free” to work for the missions. On the other hand, Léry’s favorable attitude toward the Indian serves to highlight his much larger differences and disagreements with his compatri- ot enemies Villegaignon and Thevet. Moreover, the illustrations in Léry’s book focus on the noble and even docile character of the native population. In addition to the family portrait, there are engravings that show two males posed with the traditional maraca, bow and arrow, and club; the “greeting of tears” practiced by the indigenous women upon the arrival of an out- sider; and a “sickroom” scene with various women crouching and crying or embracing one another. The only image of violence in any of the illustra-
1.12 Two Tupi males in Léry (1�78)
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tions is the dead man’s head that appears on the ground and at the side of the two males. In a corresponding engraving, two men are performing a dance. The emphasis on docility in this image seems evident: one man seems to be leaning down to pet a monkey that sits at his feet, while the other has turned his head in mid-step to gaze at a parrot on a perch. One of the best-known defenses of the Brazilian native and the anthro- pophagic act was written by Michel de Montaigne in a 1�80 essay titled “Des cannibales” (Of Cannibals). Montaigne takes a proto-Enlightenment posi- tion in this essay, criticizing those who “cling to vulgar opinions” and judge things from “common rumour” as opposed to “the light of reason” (19�7, �0�). His main argument is that “sophisticated men” who have traveled and lived in Brazil always elaborate or “glose” what they see and “never de- scribe things as they really are” (�0�). He based his critique on what he had read about Brazil, in comparison with what he had learned from a “simple” houseguest who resided in Brazil for some years:
Now we need either a very truthful man, or one so simple that he has not the art of building up and giving an air of probability to fictions, and is wedded to no theory. Such was my man; and he has besides at different times brought several sailors and traders to see me, whom he had known on that voyage. So I shall content myself with his information, without troubling myself about what the cosmographers may say about it. (�0�–�03)
There is little doubt that Montaigne’s attack here and elsewhere is di- rected toward André Thevet and his La cosmographie, which features de- scriptions of a barbarous people accompanied by sensationalized iconic representations of indigenous warfare and anthropophagy. In critiquing “cosmographers,” Montaigne rejected all references to barbarism, arguing that the word was regularly employed to describe “that which does not fit with our usages” (�03). He further stated that, based on what he has heard about the new land, he saw “nothing barbarous or uncivilized” (�03) about it and regretted that Plato, who regarded all things produced by Nature or chance to be the greatest and most beautiful, had no knowledge of nations such as Brazil:
[I]t seems to me that what we have learned by contact with those nations sur- passes not only all the beautiful colors in which the poets have depicted the golden age, and all their ingenuity in inventing a happy state of man, but also
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the conceptions and desires of Philosophy herself. They were incapable of imag- ining so pure and native a simplicity, as that which we see by experience; nor could they have believed that human society could have been maintained with so little human artifice and solder. This is a nation, I should say to Plato, which has no manner of traffic; no knowledge of letters; no sciences of numbers; no names of magistrate or statesman; no use for slaves; neither wealth nor poverty; no contracts; no successions; no partitions; no occupation but that of idleness; only a general respect of parents; no clothing; no agriculture; no metals; no use of wine or corn. The very words denoting falsehood, treachery, dissimulation, avarice, envy, detraction, pardon, unheard of. How far removed from this per- fection would he find the ideal republic he imagined! (�06)
Montaigne marveled at the obstinacy with which the Indians fought their wars and the valor of both the captor and the captive, the latter of whom was “dispatch[ed] with a sword” and then roasted and eaten “not as one might suppose for nourishment, as the ancient Scythians used to do, but to signify an extreme revenge” (�09). Similar to Léry and Anchieta, he blamed the European (in his case, he focused exclusively on the Portuguese, who by this time had ousted the French) for far greater atrocities that the local inhabitants then proceeded to imitate. Montaigne specifically men- tioned burying captives up to the waist, shooting the upper part of their bodies full of arrows, and then hanging them. He goes on to state:
I think there is more barbarity in eating a live than a dead man, in tearing on the rack and torturing the body of a man still full of feeling, in roasting him piece- meal and giving him to be bitten and mangled by dogs and swine (as we have not only read, but seen within fresh memory, not between old enemies, but between neighbors and fellow citizens, and, what is worse, under the cloak of piety and religion), than in roasting and eating him after he is dead. . . . We may therefore well call those people barbarians in respect to the rules of reason, but not in respect to ourselves, who surpass them in every kind of barbarity. (�10)
As the Brazilian literary historian Afrânio Peixoto observed in his Pan- orama da literatura brasileira (19�0), which includes a transcription and translation of indigenous lyrics that appear in Montaigne’s essay, Mon- taigne constructed an image of the Indian as noble savage some two centu- ries prior to Rousseau (�7). This image was not unique, for as we have seen, Léry was also sympathetic toward his indigenous hosts, and he and earlier
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writers such as Caminha, Nóbrega, and Anchieta often regarded the Indian as superior to the European colonizer in certain customs and habits. But despite the various portrayals of Indians as a simple people whose violence was directly related to notions of honor and valor and despite the promi- nence of an author like Montaigne, those who could read and even more who saw the illustrations were increasingly inclined to imagine Brazil as a land of naked savages who spoke strange languages and indiscriminately committed heinous acts, which included eating local and foreign enemies. The place that was once represented by trees and parrots and was often re- ferred to as “the Land of Parrots” was now better known as the land of eat- ers of human flesh.41 Diogo Homem’s 1�68 map of Brazil features the words “Cannibals” and “Anthropophagic land” in large letters. The main figure on the map is a man grilling a leg over a fire, while other body parts hang from a rack. The only other illustrations are of a few trees and a monkey. Similarly, narratives became even more preoccupied with the idea of the fierce man-eater, as seen in sixteenth-century Portuguese chronicler Pero de Magalhães Gândavo’s Tratado da terra do Brasil:
One of the things that is most repugnant to mankind about these Indians, and by which they seem to represent the extreme opposite of other men, has to do with the great and excessive cruelties that they practice on anyone who falls into their hands, as long as he does not belong to their fold. For not only do they impose a cruel death . . . but to satisfy themselves after this, they proceed to eat the flesh and carry out crudities so diabolical that in these they even sur- pass brute animals, which have neither reason nor were born to perform acts of mercy. (199�, 113)
Gândavo also remarked on the extreme fierceness of the Aimoré tribe, who resided in wooded areas near Ilhéus in southern Bahia and who, like guerilla warriors, ambushed unsuspecting settlers and other Indians. He goes on to discuss still another community called the Tapuias, who, he said, carried out rituals even more vile than anthropophagy: “When someone be- comes so ill that death seems a possibility, the person’s father, or mother, or brothers, or sisters, or other close relatives, kill him with their own hands . . . And the worst is that after this they roast, cook, and eat him, saying . . . that there is no more honorable burial that they can give him than ingesting him, thereby giving him eternal shelter in their intestines” (119–1�0). While images of indigenous communities tended to fluctuate between
1.13 Land of cannibals, Diogo Homem (1�68). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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the docile and the demonic, the land continued to fascinate those like the Jesuit Fernão Cardim. Recently arrived from Lisbon in 1�83, he sent glow- ing letters back home to his reverend superior: “It’s a thing of great joy to see the many flowing rivers and fresh forests with the tallest trees imaginable that are green year-round and filled with the most beautiful birds” (1980, 1�6). Cardim produced two tracts that are encyclopedic in their informa- tion about the land and the people. One calls attention to “some notable things that can be found on land as well as in the sea”—a phrase that serves as subtitle for the piece. The work is divided into twenty-five sections that cover a range of topics, including animals, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, birds, fruit trees that have medicinal properties, fish, shellfish, and freshwater rivers. Each section is subdivided and gives information on specific varieties or kinds of trees, fish, and so forth, and nearly everything is described in positive terms—even venomous snakes like the igbigbobo- ca, which is deadly but “very beautiful,” and the jararacas, which give off a “good and fragrant scent” (31), along with rats, which are “tasty, the large ones similar to rabbits” (�9). One of the most important sixteenth-century writings on Brazil is Ga- briel Soares de Sousa’s Tratado descritivo do Brasil em 1587. Sousa had spent several prosperous years in Bahia as a senhor de engenho (plantation owner). Beginning in 1�80, Portugal was governed by the Spanish King Felipe II, and Sousa went to Madrid, where he waited six years for official concessions to a silver mine in Brazil (Moisés 1976, �0�). During that time he began writing a treatise arguing for greater royal investment in the new territories. Its ufanista language was undoubtedly a means to achieve the desired alvís- sara from the king: “All the care that Your Majesty sends to this new realm for repair and improvement will be well used, for it is capable of building a great empire . . . [It will be] one of the States of the world because it has more than one thousand leagues of coastline . . . whose land is very fertile and healthy, whose good airs are fresh and cleansed, and whose waters are cold and refreshing” (Sousa 1971, 39). Sousa praised the many large and safe ports; the abundance of timber, which exceeded that in any other part of the world; the animals, fish, fruits, and sugar that rivaled those of Spain; and the plentiful precious metals and stones. Interestingly, the court historian Damião de Góis—who, unlike João de Barros before him and Gândavo shortly after, never traveled to Brazil—re- counted the discovery of Brazil in far greater detail in his Crônica do felicíssi-
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mo rei D. Manuel (Chronicle of the Very Felicitous King D. Manuel) in 1�66. There is no question that he was well served by documents in the Torre do Tombo in Lisbon, where he was curator for several years; but he was also familiar with Staden’s and Thevet’s texts, and his work exemplifies the bor- rowings that often took place when writing about the New World. He was a consummate practitioner of the ufanista style, as can be seen in his descrip- tion of “Santa Cruz”: “The land is very lush, very temperate and with very good airs, very healthy, so much so that the majority of the people die from old age rather than sickness. It has many great rivers and many good ports, and many sources of very good waters” (19�6, 1:119). However, Góis’s lengthy and detailed description of the inhabitants is often less than complimentary; in this sense, the affinities with Staden and Thevet are greater than those with the Jesuits, Léry, or Montaigne. Of course by the time Góis was writing, the Portuguese had already defeated the French in Rio, and they were well on their way to displacing and erad- icating the indigenous population, who proved a less hardy and resilient workforce than the slaves imported from Africa. In a form that Hayden White has called “self-definition by negation” (1978, 1��), Góis’s description of the Amerindians becomes a litany of what they did not do: “The people of this province are pale in color and they have long, straight black hair, no beards and are of medium stature. They are so barbarous that they believe in nothing, nor do they worship, nor do they know how to read or write. They have no churches or idols of any kind before whom they worship. They have no law, no weights or measurements, nor money, nor king, nor master” (Góis 19�6, 1:119). At another point in the narrative, Góis appears to take a different ap- proach by commenting on Amerindians’ accuracy with bow and arrow. He adds an eyewitness account of an event that occurred in a Portuguese village in 1�13. Here three natives performed their archery skills for King Manuel— a performance far less elaborate than the one showcased in Rouen, but still a good example of the entertainment that New World “exotics” provided to royals and others. At a later juncture, Góis returns to the topic of their ex- traordinary talent, but what he formerly presented as simply a remarkable display of accuracy and skill is now linked to the destiny of the empire:
They are so dexterous in shooting that, in their wars with the Portuguese, they aim their arrows just around the guns. For this reason [the Portuguese] have
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taken to using protective outerwear made of linen that is lined with cotton which covers them from head to foot and is so thick that the arrows lose their force. But for this very reason, these archers no longer shoot them except in the eyes, and they are so accurate in this that they kill many. (1:119)
Góis includes commentary on other aspects of the indigenous culture, including the various preparations for killing and consuming the enemy. He concludes by abruptly shifting focus from anthropophagy to Christi- anity. In a single sentence, he seems to want to reassure readers about the greater powers that are at work in Brazil, stating that many of the local in- habitants have been converted to the Christian faith, have married in the church, and live exactly as the Portuguese do. Although Góis basically restated what Jesuits like Nóbrega and Anchieta believed and hoped to achieve in their missions, his comments overall fore- shadowed the subordination if not nearly displacement of images of docile, innocent natives by images of their savagery and perdition. As his sum- mary statement suggests, conversion and assimilation were now the neces- sary course of action for the community to secure a “proper” existence—an existence that was far removed from that blissful and Edenic lifestyle re- corded by the first travelers to Brazil. His statement also worked both with and against arguments raised at the time about the primary objectives of the colonial enterprise. On the one hand, Góis believed that proselytization had priority in the New World over commercial ventures. His critique, like those of Barros and Gândavo—who expressed dismay at the renaming of the country for a commodity—supports this view. And there is no question that in order for the Crown to promote and benefit from the New World—a desire that increased substantially once trade with India became less profit- able—potential immigrants needed to be assured that they would not be killed and consumed once they touched land. Knowing that Christianity could transform a barbarous people into civi- lized human beings who “live in the same way that we do” was incentive to many who sought a better life outside Portugal. A better life was understood not only in the Christian sense of living in a place that offered a plethora of resources (something that most sixteenth-century chroniclers agreed upon, repeated, and further exaggerated in their retellings of already fantastic ac- counts),42 but also in economic terms. As historian Alida C. Metcalf has pointed out, despite the royal decree of 1�70 that freed the native inhab-
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itants, the settlers and Jesuits did not want to relinquish their rights and continued to battle over the Indian, who was an essential property in their respective colonial interests.43 Ultimately commercial interests came to the forefront, especially when it became clear that the country had far more to offer than just brazilwood and when the French and later the Dutch tried to profit from the bounty. Any resistance by the “savages,” whose numbers were reduced not only by wars but also diseases brought by the European, was addressed by the local militia and settler population. Not surprisingly, as the dwindling indigenous population became more problematic than useful to the colonizers (especially once Africans proved to be a more desir- able workforce), representations of a gentle, honorable people were replaced by images of man-eaters who either had to submit and “live like we do” or be killed off. One work that undoubtedly surpassed all in promoting the beastly over the Edenic Brazil was engraver Theodor de Bry’s Historia Americae, an il- lustrated multivolume series begun in 1�90, that is also referred to as the Grands et petits voyages. The third part of the “Great Voyages,” Americae ter- tia pars, was published in both Latin and German in 1�9�, and it is dedicated to Brazil. It is important to note that the Belgian-born Protestant de Bry had nev- er traveled to Brazil and that his remarkable copperplate engravings were largely based on illustrations that appeared in early travel narratives. For his volume on Brazil he fashioned striking engravings based on the wood- cuts that appeared in Staden’s and Léry’s texts, and he presented the illus- trations alongside the narratives. In contrast to the original works, where the image was subordinate to the text, de Bry’s volumes featured the text as a kind of backdrop for the image. The engravings are not only exceptional for their detail but also striking in size, being many times larger than the originals and often occupying nearly a full folio page. De Bry’s illustrations for Brazil, especially those based on scenes of anthropophagy from Staden’s book, were the most sensational to appear in his multivolume series; and it is not surprising that they comprise one of the single most powerful iconog- raphies associated with the discovery of the Americas. Whether by coincidence or by design, de Bry produced his sensation- alist engravings of cannibalism in 1�9�, the very year that he decided to become a bookseller as well as publisher. Anthropologist Bernadette Bu- cher writes that de Bry’s project was highly successful, attracting a wide
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range of readers that included the European aristocracy, educated people and collectors, the rising class of merchants and artisans, and individuals even of more modest means who purchased shares in maritime companies like the Dutch East India Company (1977, 11). The books’ copious illustra- tions made them attractive to those whose literacy was limited or even non- existent. As a promotional device, frontispieces to the different volumes circulated separately and were displayed in streets or by itinerant peddlers as well as in marketplaces and fairs (ibid.). Somewhat like today’s movie posters, de Bry’s frontispieces piqued the imagination because they were so provocative. This was particularly true for the artwork in his volume on Brazil. In creating the frontispiece that introduces the engravings and text based on Staden, de Bry appropriated the “hybrid” approach used in earlier illus- trations that combines classical design with New World–cannibal motifs. But de Bry’s frontispiece is also allegorical and far more daring, with its classically inspired man-eating New World inhabitants set in an architec- tural façade whose design resembles an altar and whose niches are normally occupied by religious figures. Like many earlier woodcuts, the engraving shows different activities taking place in a single image, although here they are represented in a vertical as opposed to horizontal pictorial—as if con- veying a hierarchy of meaning. For example, at the very top of the façade two natives in ceremonial attire are kneeling while reaching out and upward as if in prayer or praise. The focus of their attention is twofold: the one on the right, whose frontal nudity is totally exposed, looks at the ceremonial maraca that appears at the top of the structure, while the other, whose fron- tal nudity is concealed, looks over his shoulder in the direction of the view- er. Their position and stance are reminiscent of angels who often adorned the upper corners of religious painting and architecture, and the maraca appears at the center top, which is normally occupied by the figure of the cross. On the tier immediately beneath the two figures are New World icons in the forms of a large conch shell and clusters of different fruits. Hybridity is suggested by the combination of these icons alongside what looks like a Greek or Roman urn. The most dramatic images in the frontispiece are the figures in the middle tier who are chewing on dismembered limbs: the male figure’s im- portance as a leader is suggested by the executioner’s club that he holds in his hand. The female figure is drawn from the various accounts and illus-
1.14 Frontispiece for Americae tertia pars, by Theodor de Bry (1�9�). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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trations that depict mothers and children during the anthropophagic act. Here de Bry retreats a bit from the traditional image of mother and son by placing the baby (who resembles a little adult) clinging to the woman’s back rather than to her side. He also shows the child to be merely a spectator to his mother’s delicate nibbling—as if a child’s participation in the meal, which was shown in many early woodcuts, would exceed the limits of pro- priety for the viewer. The bottom tier is two-dimensional: the niches on the structure return to the New World and classical motifs of shells, fruits, and urns that appear in the higher tier, while the recessed archway in the center, like a proscenium, opens onto a Danteesque vision replete with smoke, fire, and individuals roasting and eating body parts. De Bry’s “story” in images is built around a placard that gives the title of the book and a short, enticing description of its contents. The large engraving that introduces Léry’s text in the second part of the volume is another hybrid image but totally different in content and design. Here de Bry portrays an anguished Adam and gently smiling Eve against the backdrop of a wooded landscape where a peasant tills the earth while a mother sits with her child. A menagerie of animals appears in the fore- ground that includes a lion, a mouse, and a bizarre-looking creature typi- cal of the fantastic beasts that often appeared in early illustrations of the New World. There is nothing obviously “Brazilian” in the illustration, al- though there is a symbolic relationship between the man and woman in the Staden frontispiece, who are eating flesh, and the Adam and Eve figures, who are about to taste the forbidden fruit. And although it is not clear what the exact relationship is between the biblical figures and Léry’s narrative, one could speculate that de Bry’s provocative portrayal of the loss of inno- cence, as suggested by Adam and Eve’s enticement by the tempter and the snake, is emblematic of the “fall” of another population once perceived as innocent and Edenic. As far as sensationalism is concerned, while biblical images (unlike those depicting anthropophagy) no longer shock modern- day sensibilities, de Bry’s subtly sensuous interpretation of the temptation and impending loss of paradise must have fascinated, if not titillated, more than a few. As mentioned earlier, the woodcuts in Staden’s text are simple and crude in design—so much so that captions were sometimes inserted in the Portu- guese translation to comment on the image, as was the case of the illustra- tion of women and children seated on the ground and “eating the prisoner.”
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De Bry tended to rely on Staden’s chapter titles to serve as captions for his engravings. For the most part, special captions were unnecessary because de Bry’s image vividly depicts not only who is eating but also what is be- ing eaten. In the case of Staden’s “Eating a Prisoner,” de Bry goes beyond artistic detail by making certain crucial modifications that move Staden’s crudely “pastoral” setting in the wilderness to a more specifically indig-
1.15 Adam and Eve, by de Bry (1�9�). Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
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enous setting that is separated from nature by a series of huts. We might say that the locus amoenus of the original is transformed into a locus terribilis by de Bry, who adds a platter with a decapitated head to the image and a mother figure who pulls entrails from another platter as the child bound to her back looks on, somewhat aghast. De Bry adds other children to the picture, one of whom is eating a phallic-looking intestine. De Bry also combined individual woodcuts to achieve more complex and startling images. In Chapter �7 of Staden and just prior to the image described above, two separate woodcuts show Indians preparing a captive body for consumption. In one, a group watches as a man places his hand in the flayed back of a body with a head but no appendages; certain individuals in the group are holding dismembered limbs in the air. The follow-up image shows men and women tending to a head being roasted in a large pot while a bearded man (presumably Staden) looks on with his hands together in
1.16 Women and children eating, in de Bry (1�9�). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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prayer. The backdrop to all of this is crudely drawn nature with bushy trees, a cloud, and a setting sun with a face and long beams that look like hair. De Bry takes other liberties as he combines these two illustrations. For example, once again he moves a scene from the original woodcut out of the wilderness and into the village with its huts and fortress-like fence. Two men work on dismembering the body, whose head has been chopped off and is being held as if for display by a child who looks more like a little old man than a youth. Added to the original scene of dismemberment is a woman who is bent over while holding a platter for the entrails. Her gaze is directed downward—as if she were appraising the quality of the meat. The scene also shows women holding large appendages aloft: somewhat like the woman with the platter, one female is holding and judging a sturdy leg limb, and another is running with a severed arm to the cooking pot. De Bry’s more savage representation clearly depicts a woman who holds a man’s limb in the air as she symbolically nibbles away at her own hand. This nib- bling is described by Staden and others as a prelude to consumption. De Bry also modifies the bearded figure (Staden) by crossing his arms over his chest as if in a defensive pose instead of with his hands folded in prayer.
1.17 Flaying a captive, in Staden Marburg edition (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
1.19 Flaying and cooking captives, in de Bry (1�9�). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
1.18 Cooking pot, in Staden (1��7). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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The most startling image of anthropophagy in the de Bry volume takes even greater liberties with Staden’s woodcuts. The illustration shows a bar- beque of sorts: men, women, and children are feasting on a variety of body parts as other limbs cook over a long, raised wooden rack. De Bry seems to have reveled in providing detail here: we can see the fat globules dripping from the various grilled limbs and the curl of fingers that appear to be grip- ping the rack as they roast. Several of the men’s bodies are covered with either tiny feathers or hair. Especially provocative are de Bry’s figures of three older women with sagging breasts who lick their fingers. Bernadette Bucher, who has written extensively on the “hag” in de Bry’s work, states that
we can see that the use of the motif of the woman with the sagging breasts . . . cannot be interpreted as an opposition between benevolent woman and ma-
1.20 Cooking and eating, in de Bry (1�9�). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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levolent woman, for our young cannibals of the statuesque bodies and Roman profiles appear equally demonic and sinful as the old women who have lost their charms. In a certain degree even, their voracity is even greater, as they devour the human flesh without restraint, while the old women, more discreet in their pleasure, are satisfied to collect the drippings from it. (1977, �9)
It is important to note that this particular aspect of the engraving is based on Léry, who seems intrigued by the “gluttonous older women” in the can- nibal ritual: “they get together and collect the fat that runs through the branches of these large and tall wooden grills; and, urging the men to con- tinue so that they will always have such treats, they lick their fingers and say: iguatú which means ‘it’s very good’” (Léry 1990, 199). Anthropologist Ronald Raminelli reminds us that chroniclers like Léry and Staden were careful to emphasize the division of labor whereby men killed and cut up the captive and ingested large body parts, while women were involved in cooking and partook primarily of the entrails, blood, and fat. Perhaps de Bry’s decision to incorporate the old women, who not only lick their fingers but also brandish body parts, was his way of pictorially suggesting the downfall of the community, which is analogous to Eve’s eat- ing the apple. Bucher makes an especially perceptive observation about the significance of the older women when she says that “conceiving the ‘savage’ state as the aging and deterioration of a more perfect state is the contrary of all ideas of the original goodness of nature and the ‘savage’” (1977, �3). A few years after Cabral returned from his famous voyage to Brazil, the Portuguese artist Grão Vasco painted a fanciful portrait titled Adoração dos magos (The Adoration of the Magi) in which the figure of the black wise man, Baltazar, is substituted by an adoring Tupinambá in full ceremonial regalia. By the end of the century, this kind of imagery would be eclipsed by equally fantastic images of a population that existed only to eat flesh. At the same time, Brazil would continue to be touted as a land of riches and opportunity. Portuguese seafaring ultimately gave way to the colonization of the Brazilian coast and the exploration of the interior, and new ways of imagining the country would emerge based on new discoveries of a vast mineral wealth in the interior.
1.21 Adoração dos magos, by Grão Vasco (Vasco Fernandes) (circa 1�0�)
Paradise (Re)Gained Dutch Representations of Brazil and Nativist Imagery
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Although images of anthropophagy continued to appear on maps and in other texts about Brazil in the early seventeenth century, it was during the Dutch occupation of the country that a discernible return to images defin- ing Brazil as a paradise or locus amoenus can be found. This shift can be explained by a variety of factors: unlike the Portuguese, the Dutch estab- lished friendly relations with the indigenous populations in the Northeast, including the Tapuias, who were greatly feared by the Portuguese; enslaved Africans had largely replaced Indian labor in the fields, and indigenous peoples either assimilated or fled into the interior; and perhaps most im- portantly, the Calvinist military leader of the Dutch expedition to Brazil, Prince Johan Maurits von Nassau-Siegen, went to great lengths to forge and market a seductively bucolic image of Brazil that would not only attract other Dutch settlers to Brazil but also celebrate his accomplishments as a colonial administrator. The iconography on five maps of Brazil produced by the Dutch between 1585 and 1640, a period when Portugal and its colonies were under Spanish rule, sheds further light on the image of Brazil constructed by cartographers from abroad. Scenes of dismemberment, execution, and anthropophagy hold prominence in Dutch representations of the country on maps by Jan Van Doet (1585), Arnold Florentin Van Langeren (1630), and Clemendt de Jonghe (1640). Josse Hond’s map (1598) rivals most previous cartographic representation thus far mentioned with its bizarre image of a headless man with eyes set in his shoulders and a bow and arrow in his hand. Standing alongside this man-monster is an Amazon warrior who, in comparison, looks more real than mythic and various animals, including a deer, a dog, and a boar. In stark contrast to this illustration is Harmen Janss and Mar- ten Janss’ map (1610), in which we see an imagery of trees and animals that harks back to the earliest cartographic iconographies of Brazil. Although a scene of dismemberment appears on Jonghe’s map, it is subordinate to
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a much larger engraving of a king being carried on a litter by indigenous inhabitants. The scene is unusual because instead of portraying Indians as cannibals, it depicts two large groups of comely and attentive natives gath- ered at each side of the litter, somewhat like Roman senators united around their Caesar. A palace appears in the far background of the engraving, ap- parently the home and destination of the traveling regal figure.1 Much like early Portuguese explorers and writers, the Dutch were excited by the bounties of Brazil, in particular by the vast sugarcane regions in the Northeast. Following the union of Spain and Portugal under the Bourbon Crown in 1580 and especially following the Twelve Years’ Truce, a treaty be- tween former enemies Spain and Holland and other “Low Countries” that lasted from 1609 to 1621, Holland’s relationship with Portugal changed dra- matically from a mutually beneficial trading partnership to one of territo- rial aggression in both Africa and Brazil. The emergence of the Dutch West India Company in 1621 spurred the invasion and occupation first of Bahia (1624–1625), then more successfully of Pernambuco and areas to the north,
2.1 Headless man and Amazon, on Josse Hond’s map of Brazil (1598). Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
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where the Dutch ruled from 1630 until they were ousted in 1654.2 During this period, Brazil was the focus of numerous Dutch cartographic studies as well as histories, travel literature, and the first paintings of the country by Dutch artists Frans Post and Albert Eckhout. The maps described above are important to consider for what they do and do not represent pictorially. For example, although brazilwood was still
2.2 Pastoral Brazil, Harmen and Marten Janss’s map of Brazil (1610). Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
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in abundance and exported to Europe in the late sixteenth and early seven- teenth centuries, sugar had become a more valuable and desirable commod- ity. As historian Boris Fausto notes, in the sixteenth century, sugar was a luxury item in Europe and was becoming increasingly popular in haute cui- sine (1999, 34). Portugal was eager to take advantage of the rising market de- mand by encouraging sugar production in the environmentally conducive area of the Brazilian Northeast, where the country’s first capital, Salvador, was established in 1549. A labor-intensive industry, sugarcane plantations required large numbers of workers, the majority of whom in the mid-six- teenth century were native Brazilians who had been forced into slavery or, as converts from the Jesuits missions, worked for slave wages.3 However, with the Dutch intervention in both the African slave trade and the sugar economy of Brazil, the percentage of African slaves on northeastern planta- tions rose dramatically, to the point that by the end of the monarquia dual (dual monarchy) or Iberian Union in 1640, Africans and African Brazilians constituted 100 percent of the workforce (Fausto 1999, 36–37).4 Interestingly, however, the early Dutch cartographers, who had never traveled to Brazil, continued to represent the country primarily as a primi- tive world associated with trees, animals, and cannibal rituals. Although there was a graphic tradition in seventeenth-century Dutch art to create the “illusion of verisimilitude” (Nguyen 9), art historian Paulo Herkenhoff has found that the European public was far more interested in such exotic representations of Brazil as cannibals, Amazons, fantastic creatures, and unusual if not horrific native customs (1999, 136).5 Josse Hond’s map is only one example of how the cartographic imagination was fueled by century- old myths and legends about the New World. His headless man is a fore- runner of the famous Acephali (headless men) engraving that appears in Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1599 account of his trip to Guiana. This fantastic image was based on what Captain Laurence Keymis later documented as a legend created around a people who retained their shoulders in a raised, hunched position, believing, for whatever reason, that it gave them a more aestheti- cally pleasing countenance (in Gheerbrant 1992, 48–49).6 Hond’s inclusion of an Amazon is equally consistent with the contin- ued emphasis on New World wonders—even those that, like the warring Amazons, were increasingly considered more fantasy than fact. In Les sin- gularités, André Thevet devoted an entire section to the female fighters that includes the provocative engraving of warrior women with shields and bows
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and arrows. In this section he documented the history of the Amazons and then turned his attention to their culture, writing that the warriors resided in little huts or caves and regularly killed male offspring while nurturing the females. Thevet was far from the first to write about the Amazons. In fact, a cartoon-like drawing of the legendary warriors appears as early as 1509 in Amerigo Vespucci’s Disz büchlin saget wie die zwe durchlüchtigsté herré Her Fernandus K. zu Castilien vnd Herr Emanuel. K. zu Portugal haben das weyte mör ersuchet vnnd findet vil Jnsulen, vnnd ein Nüwe welt von Wilden nackenden Leüten, vormals vnbekant (This Book Tells How the Two Noblemen Fernando K. of Castile and Manuel K. of Portugal Have Searched Through the Wide Ocean and Have Found a Hitherto Unknown Island with a New World of Wild, Naked People). In the drawing, three naked Amazons successfully distract a European male dressed in full colonial regalia, as a fourth Ama- zon, who stands behind him, is posed to strike him down with a club. In their Reise in Brasilien (Voyage Through Brazil), dated 1823–1831, the Austri- an naturalists Johann Baptist von Spix and Karl Friedrich Philipp von Mar- tius stated that it was a characteristic of New World literature (and I would add, New World cartography) to shock the sensibility of the Old World by emphasizing the dangers (monsters, anthropophagy, and so forth) faced by travelers and explorers (Spix and Martius 1938, 3:199). Thevet ultimately retracted what he wrote about the Amazons in his revised La cosmographie, stating that they were simply unfortunate women who endeavored to pre- serve their lives, children, and property while their husbands were away. Nonetheless, writers like Simão de Vasconcelos in the late seventeenth cen- tury, Charles Marie de La Condamine in the eighteenth century, and Al- exander von Humboldt in the early nineteenth century were not prepared to totally discount the possibility that communities of warrior women did exist. The significance of the engraving of a king on a litter and his indigenous followers that appears on Jonghe’s 1640s map is more ambiguous. Gener- ally, Portuguese reign in the New World was iconographically represented by ships off the coast or fortresses on land. In some ways Jonghe’s engraving is reminiscent of those early woodcuts of kings and castles in the extremely rare 1557 Frankfurt edition of Hans Staden’s travel narrative, which had ab- solutely nothing to do with his captive-witness account. Since no monarch had ever been to Brazil prior to Dom João’s arrival in Rio de Janeiro in 1808,
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the engraving could simply be documenting sovereign European rule sup- ported literally and figuratively by the native inhabitants. But what is the relationship between this central engraving and the smaller image of Indi- ans practicing dismemberment that appears on the map near the coastline? And whose rule, Holland’s or Portugal’s, did Jonghe intend to represent? We might conclude that Jonghe’s juxtaposition of “civilized” and “sav- age” natives is simply a continuation of two of the major tropes about Bra- zil that were developed in the sixteenth century and discussed at length in Chapter One. However, Jonghe makes a further stylistic distinction by
2.3 Vespucci’s Amazons (1509)
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using a far smaller scale to represent an individual act of dismemberment while utilizing a richly detailed and large engraving to portray the courtly image of the king and his followers. The larger engraving suggests a micro- cosm—an ordered world where royalty sits secure in its position of power above the serf (or Indian) and where civilization (in the form of the palace) presides over a vast wilderness. The dismemberment iconography makes clear that not all people and activities are part of this microcosm; nonethe- less, these are portrayed as marginal and not at all threatening to the social order. Whether Jonghe was representing Portuguese or Dutch imperialism is not clear. The fact that Jonghe was a Dutchman would seem to support the latter. At that time in Brazil, Dutch imperialism was represented by the enlightened and relatively peaceful rule of Prince Maurits, who had good relations with the indigenous populations.7 The engraving might also rep-
2.4 Acclamation and anthropophagy, on Clement de Jonghe’s map of Brazil (1640). Courtesy of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
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resent the Portuguese push into the interior at a time when the Dutch were in full command of Pernambuco and the African slave trade. The Portu- guese took advantage of the dual monarchy and the more relaxed attitude of Spain toward the Line of Tordesillas and expanded Portugal’s territory westward into the interior.8 To better understand Dutch perceptions of and interest in Brazil, one need only read Jan Andries Moerbeeck’s proposal Spaenschen Raedt (1626), which was translated as Motivos porque a Companhia das Indias Ocidentais deve tentar tirar ao rei da Espanha a terra do Brasil, e isto quanto antes (Reasons Why the West India Company Should Try to Take the Land of Brazil from the King of Spain, and as Soon as Possible). Moerbeeck had presented his study in April 1623 to the prince of Orange and lords of the Low Countries; he enumerated more than a dozen sometimes questionable and contradic- tory reasons that not only the Northeast but all of Brazil should be con- quered by the Dutch. For example, Moerbeeck contended (point 1) that the local Portuguese and Brazilian inhabitants had no military experience and would be easily won over in battle. He further contended (point 2) that the Portuguese Jews who resided in Brazil at the time were secret enemies of Spain (because of the Inquisition) and would support Dutch intervention. He stated also that by capturing the two vital cities of Bahia (Salvador) and Pernambuco (Recife/Olinda), the Dutch would in effect have seized control over the entire nation (point 3) and that the costs of war would be slight (point 13) compared to the economic returns in lands and commodities, such as sugar, brazilwood, tobacco, and cotton (points 9, 10, 12, and 14). Moerbeeck argued somewhat disingenuously that a large-scale Dutch invasion was defensible and warranted because Spain, Holland’s longtime enemy, had illegally taken control of Portugal, its former trading ally with Brazil (point 7). He concluded less disingenuously by stating that the Dutch occupation of Brazil would bring an end to the Portuguese empire. Moer- beeck bolstered his proposal with an appendix that listed everything that Brazil could produce annually and that inventoried the monetary gains the Dutch could expect by taking control of the sugar trade in northeastern Brazil.9 Moerbeeck’s assessment of Brazilian and Portuguese resistance was initially accurate in the sense that Salvador was taken quite easily in 1624; however, his reasoning about the ease with which the Dutch could defend their foothold failed to take into consideration the will of local residents—
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especially plantation owners and farmers, who banded together and ousted the Dutch after only a year. That defeat did not prevent the Dutch from raiding Pernambuco in 1630 and successfully defending its occupation dur- ing seven years of local resistance. The end of the dual monarchy three years later, in 1640, had absolutely no impact on the Dutch occupation—which goes to show the degree to which Moerbeeck’s argument about Spain’s illegal seizure of Portugal and consequently Brazil was a bit of a red herring. But the Dutch West India Company’s status as a semigovernmental organization supported by indi- vidual stockholders meant that leaders and the populace alike were not at all disposed to relinquishing their lucrative Brazilian possession to their former ally, Portugal. Moreover, Brazil was increasingly a part of the Dutch imagination and culture as a result of the works of an expedition of artists, scientists, and writers who accompanied the newly appointed governor-gen- eral Prince Maurits to Brazil. These are the individuals who constructed an image of Brazil as a paradise gained by Holland and the Dutch West India Company, and Prince Maurits effectively marketed this image over a num- ber of decades. Art historian Robert C. Smith regarded the Dutch artist Frans Post as the first landscape painter of America, stating that prior to Post there were only cartographers who might or might not have traveled to the Americas or European artists who tended to paint fantastic landscapes (1938, 246). Post was part of the cultural entourage that sailed with Prince Maurits to Brazil in 1636, and he was specifically commissioned to paint representative scenes of Brazilian agriculture, especially sugarcane plantations and pro- cessing mills, as well as scenes depicting the Dutch seats of government and places of worship. During his seven years in Brazil, Post completed eighteen landscape paintings that became the property of Maurits, who later gave them to King Louis XIV of France, supposedly for future political favors. But Post also made hundreds of drawings and sketches during his stay in Brazil, more than two dozen of which appeared as engravings in the Dutch poet Caspar van Baerle’s monumental 1647 history in celebration of Mau- rits’ Brazilian administration, titled Rerum per octennium in Brasilia (His- tory of Events During Eight Years in Brazil). Post continued to paint landscapes of Brazil long after his return to Hol- land, producing more than one hundred pictures over the years. Robert Smith points out that although Post’s paintings became more stereotyped
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and nostalgic in his later years, he easily capitalized on the ready market for Brazilian artwork and extracted good prices for his paintings (256). Art his- torian Joaquim de Sousa-Leão estimates that Post’s corpus of work includes at least 140 paintings of Brazil (1973, 21) and that his clientele back in Hol- land included people he had met in Brazil, as well as merchants, sailors, sea captains, and directors and shareholders of the Dutch West India Company (17). Post’s paintings have a sweeping, almost cinemascopic quality; their vast skies and sprawling yet highly detailed flora and fauna seem even more ma- jestic as a result of the miniature human figures and animals that populate his landscapes. Plantations houses, churches, water mills, sugarcane mills, and ox carts are among his most popular subjects, along with the African slave. Very few of his paintings depict native Brazilian inhabitants, which is likely the consequence of the African slave trade that had effectively dis- pensed with indigenous servitude in the cane fields. Nor does Post depict the harsh realities of slave life;10 in fact, his African figures, when they are not riding ox carts or dancing and singing, look more like serene country peasants or industrious mill laborers. Two excellent examples of his paintings about blacks in the countryside are Brazilian Landscape with Natives Dancing and Chapel, which shows a group of colonists heading for church while a few slaves dance in the foreground, and Oxcart, in which blacks take the guise of country peasants in a pastoral setting. Although mills, plantations, and slaves are regularly portrayed in Post’s work, emphasis remains on the skyline, vegetation, birds, and other wildlife found on riverbanks, the sea coast, and in the interior. His paint- ings support the topos of Brazil as a vast tropical paradise—a paradise that so astonished Prince Maurits when he arrived that he is quoted as saying that had he not seen it with his own eyes, he never would have believed it (in Boxer 1973, 72). Like early-sixteenth-century Portuguese chroniclers, Prince Maurits was eager to attract settlers to the colony, and Post’s landscapes, which were displayed in Maurits’s palatial residence in Recife, conveyed to visitors the beauty, bounty, and civilization that awaited them. Post also contributed to Baerle’s volume mentioned earlier with a magnificent map of the Dutch ter- ritory in Brazil. Back home in Holland, Maurits disseminated the images of Brazil created by Post and others by giving parts of his Brasiliana collec- tion to leaders of other countries in exchange for titles, lands, and political
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favors. The three main recipients were Prince-Elect Frederick Wilhelm I of Brandenburg, Frederick III of Denmark, and most importantly, Louis XIV of France. One cannot discuss Post’s work without at least mentioning its relation- ship to a canonical piece of historiography titled Diálogos das grandezas do Brasil (1618; Dialogues of the Great Things of Brazil, 1986) and attributed to the Portuguese “new Christian” author Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, a successful sugar mill owner in Paraíba in the early part of the seventeenth century. Divided into six parts, the work is structured around a conversa- tion between Alviano, a Portuguese newcomer to Brazil who is learned and often skeptical if not cynical about the New World, and Brandônio, a Por- tuguese settler who is well-informed and enthusiastic about the possibili- ties of his adopted homeland. The book reflects the ufanista rhetorical style that characterized much of the historiography written during the previous century. A good example of the image of Brazil as a tropical as well as com- mercial Eden appears early on in the book’s third dialogue, as Brandônio outlines for Alviano the various riches to be found in Brazil:
Now to begin, I will say that the wealth of Brazil consists of six things, from which its settlers grow rich, and these are: first, the production of sugar; sec- ond, trade; third, the wood they call brazil; fourth, cotton and timber; fifth, the growing of food crops; sixth and last, cattle raising. Of these things, the principal nerve and substance of the wealth of the land is the production of sugar. (1986, 132)
In this same dialogue, Brandônio makes a compelling case for Portugal to plant pepper in Brazil to challenge the Dutch East India Company, which was the principal supplier for Europe at the time. The Portuguese did not implement this idea at the time, and the Dutch moved aggressively to lay claim to the highly profitable sugar industry in Brazil—a move that might very well have been influenced by Brandão’s myriad observations about the wealth to be earned in that industry.11 Although he was painting more than two decades after Brandão wrote the Diálogos, Post was, in the words of Joaquim de Sousa-Leão (1973, 5), the visual chronicler of the sugar industry in seventeenth-century Brazil, and his work constitutes a “pictorial counterpart” to the Diálogos in the sense that both men focused on the natural beauty and bountifulness of Brazil’s natural resources. Brazilian historian João Ribeiro suggested that
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the Dutch knew the Diálogos because a copy of the manuscript was found in Leiden (in O. Lima 1997, 5). Post’s 1655 painting titled Plantation Scene might be regarded as a visual rendition of the book’s basic structure, since the focal point in the painting is a plantation house where two men are en- gaged in a conversation on the veranda. The idyllic surroundings include a brilliant blue sky with white clouds overhead and lush tropical trees in the background; in the foreground, black slaves wear vibrantly colored clothing and appear to be dancing and singing. Although there is much to critique in Post’s bucolic renderings of planta- tion society, his rural and river landscapes are convincing pictorial tributes to the verdancy of the Brazilian Northeast. Writing two centuries later, English traveler Maria Graham rightly observed in her diary, Journey of a Voyage to Brazil (1824): “Nothing can be prettier of its kind than the fresh green landscape with its broad river winding through it. . . . I doubt not that the flat meadows and slowly flowing water, were particularly attractive to the Dutch founders of Recife” (104). This was surely the case with Post,
2.5 Plantation Scene, Frans Post (1655)
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whose broad, serene landscapes of sea, sky, fields, forests, and streams sug- gest what Aldous Huxley once described as the “profusion that exists in tropical reality” (1960, 262). According to Huxley, “the painter of the aver- age tropical scene would have to begin by leaving nine tenths of reality out of his picture.” To this he added: “If [Gauguin] had not, there would have been no seeing the wood for the inordinate quantity of the trees” (ibid.). Whether this was true of Post or not, he constructed an image of Brazil that has much in common with the ufanista spirit of prose writing of the time; and his hundreds of sketches, drawings, paintings, and engravings remain among the most important documents of the Dutch presence in Brazil. A less-known figure in Prince Maurits’s artistic entourage was the art- ist Albert Eckhout, who was commissioned to paint the peoples, flora, and fauna. Art critic Paulo Herkenhoff contends that Eckhout was the first per- son to document pictorially the different racial and ethnic types anywhere in the Americas (1999, 146). In his essay “First Visual Images of Native America,” William C. Sturtevant states that Eckhout produced the “first convincing European paintings of Indian physiognomy and body build” (1976, 419). There is also the point that because Eckhout’s portraits of native Brazilians, Africans, mulattoes, and mamelucos (offspring of the European and Indian) were regarded as ethnographic studies, he was rarely included in discussions of Dutch art in Brazil until quite recently.12 Eckhout’s large portraits of Tupi and Tapuia males and females are stun- ning and rich in meaning. Although painted only forty years after Theodor de Bry’s famous engravings of the nude, fierce, and anthropophagous Tupi, Eckhout’s Tupi male and female figures are docile in comparison—but not in the same way that Pero Vaz de Caminha wrote about them in his 1500 letter on the founding of Brazil. As art historian Ronald Raminelli notes, Eckhout illustrates the once brave Tupi as a figure conquered by civilization (1996, 106). In his portrait of the male, there are none of the traditional body piercings or scars associated with the former warrior; his hair is no longer shorn, and he appears to sport a small European-style goatee. He wears a skirt made of cloth rather than birds’ feathers, and he carries a knife in his waistband—a symbol of the European presence. The bow and arrows that he holds in his hands look more like decorations or artifacts than hunting or killing weapons. A gigantic manioc root sliced open at his feet suggests the transformation of the former hunter-warrior into a gatherer—a role traditionally carried out by Tupi women.
2.6 Tupi man, by Albert Eckhout (1643)
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Eckhout’s portrait of a Tupi woman holding a child is similar to his de- piction of the Tupi man: she wears a white cloth skirt belted at the waist and reaching almost to her knees, and instead of body parts, she is posed with a manioc root, a folded hammock, and a basket on top of her head. Unlike the traditional flowing tresses of de Bry’s Tupi women, her hair is tightly woven with ribbon into two long braids. While still linked to the natural world, represented by a banana tree at her side and a large frog at her feet, she has been pacified by the European and integrated into civiliza- tion, which appears in the form of a plantation house with crops and work- ers in the background of the painting. The gaze of the male and female Tupi figures is similar in that their eyes are cast slightly downward—perhaps Eckhout’s way of suggesting their gradual domestication and submission. Only the small, naked child clinging to the woman’s side looks directly at the viewer, although other body language—the child’s expression and her firm hold on her mother’s breast—suggests an uncertainty or uneasiness with what she sees. Eckhout’s portraits of a Tapuia man and woman are quite different from his Tupi figures. Unlike the Tupi, who lived on the coast, the Tapuia inhab- ited the interior and often joined the Dutch to fight the Portuguese and their Indian allies. In his 1647 study of the period, Baerle wrote of the Tapuias’ threatening countenance and reputation for cruelty and that they were all cannibals who terrorized other savages and the Portuguese (in Herkenhoff 1999, 117). Unlike the Tupi figures, Eckhout’s Tapuia figures are still part of the wilderness landscape. Almost naked and showing no sign anywhere in the portraits of the colonizing presence, the man carries in one hand the ceremonial executioner’s club and arrows and in his other hand a second club. He wears a feathered headdress and enduape, or traditional cluster of feathers, attached to a cord wrapped around his waist. His ferocity as a war- rior is enhanced by the long, narrow spikes that pierce his cheeks and by the stone that rests in the hole in his chin. Unlike the Tupi male, he looks directly at the viewer with an emotionless gaze. The nature that surrounds him is yet more dangerous and daunting—particularly a tarantula and a large boa constrictor with huge teeth. Eckhout’s portrait of a female Tapuia is even more sensational because of the contrast between her serene semblance and the ferocity symbolized by the body parts she carries in her right hand and a basket strapped to her head. With the exception of a small cluster of leaves covering her pubic
2.7 Tupi woman, by Eckhout (1641)
2.8 Tapuia man, by Eckhout (1643)
2.9 Tapuia woman, by Eckhout (1643)
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area, she is naked, although her skin is blemished with dirt, and like the male figure, she wears roped sandals on her feet. Unlike her Tupi coun- terpart, her hair is loose, and she wears a simple headband. Her face and body, like those of Eckout’s other indigenous figures, are in keeping with the artistic representation of the European nude; at the same time, her pose with the body parts is made even more provocative by the presence of a wild dog with sharp teeth that laps at a stream running at her feet. In the far background, a line of Indians on the distant horizon appears rather sug- gestively further up and between her legs. This phallic symbolism of nature portrayed in earlier sixteenth-century engravings such as those found in Thevet is repeated here in the form of a tree with long, narrow pods that dangle above her head. Eckhout was a master of the still life, a popular genre in seventeenth- century Holland, and all of his portraits with the exception of his dynamic Dança de tapuias (Dance of the Tapuias) have a certain still-life quality. Al- though he often painted shells, periwinkles, and ivory—all of which were favorite subjects of Dutch audiences because of their beauty and economic implications, he also painted pictures of manioc roots, leaves, and fruits, which are captivating for their brilliant color, simplicity of line, and sensu- ality. Like Post, Eckhout continued to make a living long after his return to Europe by painting Brazilian flora and fauna on canvas as well as in the interiors of castles and stately homes. Among later artworks inspired by Eckhout’s paintings, none is more impressive than the 1687 tapestry series on America by the Paris-based company Manufacture des Gobelins, whose works hung in various palaces in France. According to Charles Boxer, these tapestries were so popular that the series was reproduced on the original looms for the next 120 years (1973, 153). Prince Maurits also brought to Brazil the physician and naturalist Wil- lem Piso, who with his assistant, the physician, astronomer, and cartogra- pher Georg Marggraf, and Joannes de Laet produced the first natural his- tory of South America, titled Historía naturalis brasiliae (1648). Two other figures deserve mention. The first was illustrator Zacharias Wagener, a German who was living in Brazil prior to Maurits’s arrival and who served as butler in the prince’s residence. He wrote an unpublished manuscript, Their Buch Darinnen, translated and published as the Zoobiblion: Livro de animais do Brasil (Book of Animals from Brazil), which contains more than one hundred watercolors of different Brazilian species, including human
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figures copied from Eckhout’s earlier paintings. The second noteworthy visitor to Brazil, Johannes Nieuhof, arrived after Maurits’s departure. Published posthumously in 1682, his memoir of his nine years in Brazil, Gedenkwaardige brasiliaense zee- en land reis, reaffirms the fascination that the land held for foreign travelers. A Dutchman in the employ of the West India Company, Nieuhof was initially impressed by Brazil, and his memoir is ufanista in its descriptions. As in the Diálogos das grandezas do Brasil, the praise once heaped upon brazilwood has been transferred to the more lucra- tive sugar production:
Brazil is a country excellently well-qualified by Nature for the producing of all Things, which are generally found in the West-Indies, under or near the same
2.10 Indian Hunter, by Manufacture des Gobelins (1692–1700)
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climate; except that hitherto no Gold or Silver-Mines have been discovered here worth taking note of. But next to Gold and Silver, Sugar claims precedency here before all other commodities . . . for the situation of Brazil . . . is such as could not be more conveniently contrived by human Art or Nature for the Transpor- tation of so general and agreeable a Commodity, as Sugar, into all the other parts of the World. (1703, 31)
Art historian José Roberto Teixeira Leite finds that all but two of the il- lustrations in Nieuhof’s book were based on designs by Marggraf, Eckhout, and Wagener. The two executed by Nieuhof are interesting to contemplate. A Brazilian is the title given to a picture of a naked Indian whose arrow has just pierced a bird in flight. Another naked Indian appears in the near background with hands raised as if to catch the bird as it falls. In the far background is a small scene depicting the anthropophagic rite. The other illustration by Nieuhof, Blacks Dancing, shows a mostly naked African man and a seminude African woman playing instruments while a small group enjoys the music in the background. Like Eckhout’s Tapuia woman and the iconography on certain maps, A Brazilian shows that anthropophagy was still a topos in Dutch Brazil but had been recessed or marginalized (when not completely erased) in the vast majority of representations. Rural and pastoral images of Brazil now assumed iconic status, and the African slave was introduced as a decoration and a festive image in harmony with the tropical scenery, associated less with labor than with music, song, and dance.
What historian Charles R. Boxer calls the “promotion literature” of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be divided into two types: the ufanista, associated with the hyperbolic language of sixteenth-century trav- eler-chroniclers, and the nativista, a later phenomenon that emphasizes the superiority of things Brazilian. The latter form is generally written from the perspective of those born in Brazil or who have resided in the country for some time. The Franciscan Vicente do Salvador, regarded as the first Brazilian his- torian, is a good example of a fusion of ufanista and nativista styles. In his História do Brasil: 1500–1627 (1627), we see the same exaggerated prose about Brazilian woodlands found in some of the nation’s earliest documents:
2.11 A Brazilian, by Johannes Nieuhof (1682)
2.12 Blacks Dancing, by Nieuhof (1682)
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In Brazil there are huge forests of wild trees, cedars, oaks, mimosas, angel- woods, and others unknown in Spain. Their woods are extremely strong and exceptionally sturdy galleons can be constructed out of them. . . . The woods from Brazil are no less beautiful than they are strong. They are of all colors: white, black, red, yellow, purple, pink and jasper-colored . . . They are so es- teemed for their beauty that they are used to make beds, chairs, desks, and buffets . . . Other trees called myrocarpus provide the very smooth balsam that is used in healing and that the Holy Father has declared a legitimate material of the holy unction and anointing. (1965, 67)
At the same time, Salvador writes in the “nativist” mode about what Brazil can offer that other countries cannot: “Brazil has a greater wealth of foodstuffs than all the other lands in the world combined because in it can be found the foods found in all the others” (ibid.). At another point, he reiterates that in order to survive, Brazil requires absolutely nothing from beyond its borders: “of all the praises to be bestowed upon Brazil, the great- est is that it can sustain itself with its ports closed, without any help from other lands” (ibid.). In História da América portuguesa (1730), published more than two cen- turies after the founding of Brazil, the Bahian Sebastião da Rocha Pita showed how ufanismo and nativismo continued to be cultivated in histories of the country. His book is filled with superlatives, swooning commentary, and lyric descriptions:
[Brazil is an] incredibly vast region, the most felicitous land, on whose surface are fruits, whose center is filled with treasures, whose mountains and coastlines are filled with aromas. Its fields produce the most practical foods; its mines, the finest gold; its timber, the softest balsam; and its seas, the most select amber. . . . In no other region is the sky more serene, nor is there anywhere a more beau- tiful dawn. No other hemisphere has more golden sun rays or more brilliant nighttime reflections; the stars are the most benign and they always twinkle happily. The horizons, whether at dawn or dusk, are always clear; the waters, whether from country fountains or city aqueducts, are the purest: Brazil is an earthly paradise, where the greatest rivers are born and flow. (1880, 2)
Similarly, the Jesuit Simão de Vasconcelos’s 1668 Notícias curiosas e nece- ssárias das coisas do Brasil (Curious and Necessary News of Things from Brazil) combined ufanista and nativista sentiments in his descriptions of the land:
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The incredible height of these shapeless mountains is proportionally similar to its accomplishment: they seem to want to compete with the Heavens; neither the Pyrenees, nor the Alps, nor any others known to us can compare with them. Clouds serve them as a belt that wraps round the middle of their huge bod- ies, the upper part totally free of terrestrial vapors and exhalations. Those who climb them tread on clouds from the middle part on up: and when they arrive at the top, it seems that the very same clouds drift over the land. Rains, winds, storms, rainbows, exhalations, and meteorological impressions—everything that they see from above seems superior and, at the same time, they enjoy the Sun and fine weather. It is as if they were in another world, free of the jurisdic- tion of the times. (2002, 69)
Critic Wilson Martins notes in his multivolume História da inteligência brasileira that Vasconcelos’s ufanista zeal harks back to early-sixteenth-cen- tury notions about Brazil, especially when Vasconcelos argued at various points that the country is a terrestrial paradise. His position on this subject was so extreme and contrary to religious beliefs of the time that his Jesuit superiors suppressed what they found to be most objectionable in the book, although not every reference to Brazil as an earthly Eden was omitted (1977, 1:162). As we have seen, Sebastião da Rocha Pita was not at all reluctant to equate Brazil with the biblical paradise, although fortunately for his pur- poses he was writing as a layman and not as a Jesuit. The language of the nativista-ufanista sensibility was not limited to his- toriography, and, as mentioned above, it carried into the eighteenth cen- tury. Manuel Botelho de Oliveira, believed to be the first published poet in Brazil, wrote a lengthy lyric composition printed in 1705, “A Ilha de Maré: Termo da Cidade de Bahia” (The Island of Maré: At the Border of the City of Bahia), that provides a veritable menu of the incomparable and bountiful treats to be found in Brazil. Note in the following stanzas how the nativ- ist rhetoric is used to empower Brazil over previous and present colonizing nations:
Lemons are not appreciated, Being so many, they are disdained. Oh, were Holland to savor them! Not even for a province would she trade them.
The falling yellow citrons Are beautiful,
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Swollen and fresh, It is good that they have fallen to the ground. The muscatel grapes are so delicious, So rare, so exquisite; Had Lisbon seen them, she would imagine Someone had robbed them from her garden; The production of them is so copious It seems miraculous, Harvested twice a year, They give birth two times, without fail, in twelve months.13
In The Golden Age of Brazil 1695–1750 (1969), Boxer writes at some length and with considerable verve about the distance between the imagined uto- pia of Brazil and the realities that awaited emigrants:
The majority of the emigrants were probably illiterate, but any who might have read such eulogistic works must have been cruelly deceived soon after their ar- rival. While extolling the variety of delicious fruits which Brazil afforded, the beauty of the evergreen scenery, and the serenity of the tropical nights under the Southern Cross, these writers discreetly forbore to mention the numerous insect pests which made any kind of agriculture a gamble, and which all the resources of modern science are still far from controlling. . . . Droughts ravaged some regions of the country for years on end; and elsewhere the capricious cli- mate was likely to alternate between excessive rain and floods on the one hand and totally insufficient rainfall on the other . . . . The dearth of calcium was (and is) particularly serious, adversely affecting the nutritional value of such food plants as did grow. (13)
Boxer includes a citation from a letter written in 1687 by landowner João Peixoto Viegas in Bahia to the Marquis of Minas in which Viegas describes the precarious nature of farming in Brazil: “it is just like the act of copula- tion, in which the participant does not know whether he has achieved some- thing, or whether the result will be a boy or a girl, sound or deformed, until after the birth is achieved” (13). I do not mean to suggest that there was absolute silence about the dif- ficulties one might confront in the New World. While Johan Nieuhof was enthusiastic about his close to a decade of experiences in Dutch Brazil, he was not reluctant to mention at least one drawback of living in the trop-
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ics: “Plague is a thing unknown in Brazil . . . thou’ they are not free from continued putrid fevers, caused by the hot and moist Air, and the excessive use of raw Fruits” (1703, 32). A later traveler, Johan Brelin, the first Swede to publish a book on Brazil, praised the country but was far from impressed with its inhabitants. In his diary of a trip to Brazil in 1756 he notes: “Hav- ing been bestowed with many and great natural resources, [Brazil] could become the richest country in the World if it were in the hands of a more work-oriented people. But the innate vanity and grand imagination of the Portuguese have grown to such a point that even the humblest regard work to be a dispensable thing” (1955, 100). A few pages later Brelin repeats this observation, remarking that “even the blacks are not humble” (104). His description of the indigenous peo- ples seems largely based on hearsay and myth—not surprising, since by that time fewer Indians lived in the coastal areas. His description of native women and breastfeeding might be better classified as miraculous: “Their breasts are so long that they throw them over their shoulders when they nurse their children, who are carried in hammocks on their backs” (102). However, at a later juncture he is frank about his scant knowledge of Indi- ans, saying: “Of these kind of people I only saw two examples which were kept in iron cages in the Viceroy’s palace, and it was said that they were to be shipped to Europe” (102)—a comment that provides additional insight into the mistreatment of Indians, who continued to be exported to Europe as exotica in the eighteenth century. A far more searing indictment of Brazilians of nearly every caste and class can be found in the writings of the seventeenth-century Bahian-born poet Gregório de Matos, whose satiric verses were so personal and vicious that he was dubbed “Boca do Inferno” (Mouth from Hell). In Brazil, Matos witnessed the misery of the country under the increasingly hardened rule of royally appointed governors and other functionaries who diminished the ability of câmaras, or town councils, to operate. In his introduction to the poetry of Matos, José Miguel Wisnik lists the growing sugar crisis (owing to greater competition from areas like the Caribbean), the weakening of local governments, opportunism and the rise of the Portuguese businessman, and colonial oppression among the principal topics in the poet’s works (Wisnik 1976, 15). In poems such as “Descreve o que era naquele tempo a cidade da Bahia” (Describing What Was at That Time the City of Bahia), Matos was not at all reluctant to point out the greed, dishonesty, and stu-
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pidity of his fellow Bahians, and he reserved a special disdain for people of color:
In every nook and corner a great counselor, Who wants to rule us from shack to vineyard; They don’t even know how to run their own kitchens, And they presume to rule the whole world.
In every doorway a habitual busybody, Who scrutinizes, watches, spies on, and probes The lives of his male and female neighbors So they might be carted off to the public square.
Many shameless mulattoes, Rise on the backs of noble men, By knowing every dirty trick in the book.
Stupendous usury in the marketplace, Destitute are those who fail to steal: And there you have the city of Bahia. (Matos 1976, 41)
Having lost his post as an ecclesiastical tribunal appeals judge for, among other infractions, refusing to wear a cassock, Matos was especially critical of clerics. Among his best-known anticlerical writings is a long satire of the pardo (brown-skinned) vicar Lourenço Ribeiro, who ventured a public critique of Matos’s verse (Wisnik 1976, 45). In the poem, Matos repeatedly refers to Ribeiro’s mixed-race heritage, using terms such as mestizo and mu- lato in combination with variations on the word “dog.”14 Boxer notes the considerable enmity between locals and emigrants, the latter of whom were given positions and other perks by government officials largely of European birth (1969, 12). Matos’s ire was considerably piqued by the privileges bestowed upon the growing Portuguese mercantile class over the Brazilian plantation society into which he was born. His poem “Descreve com mais individuação a fidúcia com que os estrangeiros sobem a arruinar sua república” (Describing with More Precision the Insolence with Which Foreigners Rise up to Ruin Your Republic) focuses on the par- tiality shown to the outsider by his own city, which he personifies as “Lady Madam Bahia”:
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Lady Madam Bahia, noble and opulent city, stepmother to your own children, and mother to those from abroad:
Tell me for your sake on what do you base your reason for praising those who come here, and crushing those born here?
If you do that for your own interests so that strangers might sing your praises, well, that’s something our own countrymen would do to receive the same advantages. (49)
Matos’s acerbic verses predate the 1731 decree of Dom José I of Portugal that banned the publication of all satires and libelous material. Nonethe- less, his poetry was so controversial in its attacks against policies and of- ficials—including the governor himself, that he was deported to Angola.15 Matos was permitted to return to Brazil shortly before his death, on con- dition that he reside in Recife and refrain from writing satires. He wrote a number of religious and love poems during his lifetime, but his satiric verse best exemplifies his particular nativist approach. Unlike most nativ- ist writers, his poetry did not focus on the wonders of Brazil, and his at- titude toward Brazilians born of mixed blood as well as Portuguese Jews was undeniably prejudicial. Yet he was a nativist poet in the sense that he privileged the local over the foreign, and he sometimes adopted Tupi and African terminology in his compositions. His poems about the Bahia of his youth, such as his famous “Triste Bahia” (Sad Bahia), indirectly comment on the depth of his despair about his homeland; read in conjunction with other satiric poems, they reveal how truly great for him the differences were between a nostalgic (mostly imaginary) past and the present-day reality of Brazil. The Jesuit Antônio Vieira, who spent many years in Brazil and was re- garded as one of Europe’s most compelling orators, shared some of Matos’s concerns that Brazil had been handed to royal officials.16 But Vieira’s cri- tique of Portuguese administrators was couched in the language of the pulpit, and his renowned linguistic dexterity, with its baroque turns of
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phrase and word play, made him less a target for retribution—at least in some matters. Among his hundreds of sermons is the “Sermão da visita- ção de Nossa Senhora” (Sermon on Our Lady’s Visitation) given in 1640, the year of Portuguese independence from Spain, in which he compared the king’s sending of administrators to Brazil with God’s sending Adam to watch over and tend the earth. Vieira was quite pointed in his critique of their sins, stating that just as Adam took the apple that was not his, certain officials came to Brazil not for the country’s welfare but to take its goods (2001, 2:217–239). Vieira’s admiration and love of Brazil is apparent in his many sermons about the country. His nativism is especially evident in his “Sermão do bom ladrão” (Sermon on the Good Thief) of 1655, a linguistic tour de force on the terminology used for robbers, whom he described as the “active voice” who victimize the unsuspecting “passive” (2001, 1:387–413). Vieira was fond of prophesy, but even he would have been amazed at how accurate his sermons were in foretelling the extraordinary plunder of riches that would take place in Brazil a few years later.
The Gold Rush and the Seeds of a Revolution
The image of Portugal as a great seafaring nation was considerably changed by the mid-seventeenth century. As a result of sixty years of Spanish rule, the country was in a precarious economic state, and the loss of parts of the Brazilian and African territories to the Dutch had devastating effects on both the commercial and psychic well-being of the Portuguese. Despite An- tônio Vieira’s famous “Sermão pelo bom sucesso das armas de Portugal con- tra as de Holanda” (Sermon for the Good Success of the Arms of Portugal Against Those of Holland) in 1640, the Dutch were ousted not by the Portu- guese military but by guerrilla-style fighters who lived in Pernambuco. Once the Northeast was back in Portuguese hands, new problems began to materialize for the mother nation. The Dutch withdrawal translated into an immediate loss of capital to support the sugar plantation economy; Bra- zil was no longer the sole exporter of sugar, and new markets meant lower prices; and the cost of slaves to work the fields and mills was so exorbitant that profit margins were at an all-time low. The reaction of the monarchy to its own ruined economy was to explore other possible sources of income in Brazil—in particular in the area of the sertão, or backlands, where it was long believed an Eldorado existed.17 To this end, bandeirantes pushed even farther into the interior, and in 1695 word spread of the discovery of massive
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deposits of gold in the central interior, known as Minas Gerais (General Mines). The discovery of gold and later silver and diamonds launched a ma- jor land rush that lasted more than fifty years. Although many Brazilians’ fortunes changed dramatically because of the mines, much of the wealth from precious metals and stones went directly to Portugal as a result of a heavy tax. The 1703 Treaty of Methuen between England and Portugal vir- tually ensured that the wealth from Brazil passed from Portugal to Britain, whose industrial revolution was bankrolled by it.18 One of the most intriguing documents to appear in this period in Brazil was Cultura e opulência no Brasil (Culture and Opulence in Brazil) by the Italian-born Jesuit Giovanni Antonio Andreoni, who published his book in 1711 under the pseudonym André João Antonil—and for good reason. This straightforward and highly detailed chronicle of the agricultural and mineral wealth in Brazil was the source of considerable consternation back in Portugal. Any information about the Brazilian mines, especially their whereabouts and lucrative contents, was considered confidential to the Crown. Shortly after Andreoni’s book was released, the government im- mediately seized all available copies. The book’s existence was generally ig- nored until some 150 years later, and it took another half-century after that for historian Capistrano de Abreu to uncover the identity of the pseudony- mous Antonil. Andreoni wrote the book to honor the memory of his predecessor, the Jesuit José de Anchieta, who was renowned for his lifelong dedication to missionary work and for his many writings, which included the first poetry ever written in Brazil. From Andreoni’s standpoint, Brazil owed so much to Anchieta that it was only right to celebrate his life and memory with an inventory of the many riches that God had bestowed upon the land. He also alluded to generous rewards that would accrue on earth and in heaven for even the smallest contributions to the Church in Anchieta’s name by those “plantation owners and sugar and tobacco farmers and those who extract gold from the mines in the state of Brazil,” to whom Andreoni addressed his book (Antonil 1955, 9). While news of the bounties offered by Brazil in the sixteenth century was ultimately deigned by the Crown to be a way to increase migration to and commerce with the New World, the experience of fighting off nations such as France and Holland because of resources such as brazilwood and sugarcane resulted in Portugal’s attempt to prevent any announcement
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about the mines. Unlike the historiographies written by Salvador, Pita, and others that focused on the past, Andreoni’s narrative furnished precise, up- to-date information on the locations of and specific processes involved in the sugar, tobacco, and mining industries, giving exact accounts of how much was produced, how much was taxed by the government, and the to- tal (and generous) revenues that were collected by Portugal. Andreoni not only compiled an extraordinary set of data but also used the information to make a plea to the Crown to boost aid to plantation owners and work- ers, who were the human factors behind Portugal’s new source of wealth. His requests included expediting landowners’ and miners’ petitions in the courts, paying punctually those soldiers who kept the peace in the frontier towns of the interior, and supporting the church by educating more priests for missionary work (Antonil 1955, 252–253). Andreoni begins his account of the mines by stating that the search for precious metals in Brazil was most likely delayed because of the visible and more easily obtainable bounties offered by the countryside, which included fish, fruits, and timber, as well as Indians, who were hunted down and cap- tured for slave labor. His narrative includes a description of the discovery of gold:
They say that the first discoverer was a mulatto who had been in the mines of Paraná and Curitiba and who went to the backlands with some Paulistas to hunt for Indians . . . he lowered a small wooden vessel to scoop up some water from a brook that today is called Ouro Preto [Black Gold]. After placing the vessel in the water and scraping it along the river bottom, he noticed some steel- colored granules in it, but he didn’t know what they were. Nor did his compan- ions, to whom he showed the granules, know enough to realize what he had so easily found. They merely thought that it was a well-formed but unknown metal. When they arrived in Taubaté, they continued to ask what kind of metal it might be. Without further examination, they sold some of the granules to Miguel de Souza . . . not knowing what they were selling and without his know- ing what he was buying, until they decided to send a few of the grains to the governor in Rio de Janeiro, Artur de Sá. The results of the examination showed that it was the highest grade of gold. (Antonil 1955, 179–180)
Andreoni devoted an entire section of his book to the people who ven- tured into the area to search for gold—an account that shows that even pri- or to his book, the Crown had been unable to keep the discovery a secret:
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Each year ships bring large numbers of Portuguese and foreigners, who move on to the mines. From the cities, villages, coastal lands, and interior of Bra- zil come whites, mulattoes, blacks, and many Indians who serve the Paulistas. The mixture includes persons of all kinds: men and women, young and old, poor and rich, noble and plebeian, laymen, clerics and religious people from different institutions, many of whom have neither convent nor home in Brazil. (186–187)
His account of the different sites and varieties of gold and silver hark back to the first chroniclers’ descriptions of the flora and fauna of Brazil:
First of all, silver mines are for the most part found where the earth is red and white, free of trees and with little grass. . . . Silver found in veins is varied in col- or: . . . white, black . . . the color of yellow gold, blue, light green, brown, liver- colored, orange, tawny. Other kinds of silver are completely silver in color. . . . All these stones are called metals by the Castilians, and a few bear names. Cov- ered metal is a stone that has a green appearance, is very heavy, salty in taste, thin, and it shrivels the mouth because of the mix of acrid antimony and vit- riol. Powder-fine metal is a stone that is slightly yellow, more solid than the one just mentioned, and at times the silver is harder toward the bottom. Blackened metal of the best kind is a black stone with highlights from thick iron filings; however, it not very solid when mixed with salt and second-grade black metal. (230–231)
As a good Jesuit, Andreoni was not reluctant to moralize about the dan- gers incited by the lust for gold:
There is no good that cannot be the occasion for bad because of those who do not use it well . . . . How is it that despite being such a beautiful and precious metal, so useful for human commerce and so worthy of vases and ornaments for Temples of the Divine, gold continues to be the cause of men’s insatiable greed and the instrument for so much danger? The fame of bountiful mines invited men of all castes and from all parts: some with means, and others without. For those of means, who withdrew large quantities of gold, it meant haughtiness and arrogance, and always to be accompanied by troops of armed guards who are ever ready to carry out violent acts and great and thunderous revenge, without fear of the law. Gold has seduced them to gamble widely and to spend extraordinary amounts without any notice on trifles, buying (for ex- ample) a black trumpet player for a thousand cruzados; and a mistreated mu-
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latta for double the price, so he can multiply his continuous and scandalous sins with her. Those vagabonds without means, who go to the mines to take out gold . . . carry out inexcusable treacheries and even crueler deaths that go unpunished. Even Bishops and Prelates of some religions ignore taking blame for letting their numbers in the convents and priesthood diminish because so many clerics and other religious persons scandalously roam about the interior with resolve or as fugitives. And because the best of everything one could want goes to the mines, the price of everything for sale has gone up. So much so that plantation owners and workers have mortgaged themselves to the hilt, and because of the lack of slaves, they cannot take care of the sugar nor the tobacco fields—the true mines of Brazil and Portugal—as they did so happily in the past. And the worst part is that most of the gold taken from the mines passes in dust and coin to foreign realms. And the smallest part goes to Portugal and cities in Brazil—except for what is spent on hat cords, earrings, and other gew- gaws which today one sees mulattas of ill-repute and black women wear much more than ladies. There is not a prudent person who hasn’t confessed that God allowed so much gold to be found in the mines in order to punish Brazil—just as he is punishing so many Europeans with wars as a result of the discovery of iron. (236–238)
It is difficult to imagine the fortunes extracted from the interior regions. In his 1979 study, O ouro brasileiro e o comércio anglo-português (Brazilian Gold and Anglo-Portuguese Commerce), Virgílio Noya Pinto estimates that nearly one thousand tons of gold (in addition to three million carats of diamonds) were taken from the area between 1700 and 1800.19 One conse- quence of these riches was the architectural splendors of places such as Vila Rica, the capital of Minas Gerais (later to be called Ouro Preto), whose opu- lence was so great that it was called the “precious pearl of Brazil.” Among the best pictorial documents of the period is the collection by Carlos Ju- lião of forty-three watercolors of whites, blacks, and Indians. Several of his paintings are set in the mining area of Serro do Frio, where diamonds were discovered; a few others feature wilderness landscapes. A captain in the royal artillery in the mid-eighteenth century, Julião was a master of detail. His portraits of black slaves in the interior are especially interesting because they portray different aspects of the difficult manual labor required by the mines. One of his watercolors of slave rock crushers bears a slight resem- blance to 1930s social realist paintings with their roundish and muscular laborers. The important difference between the two styles is that instead
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of being stoic, content, or even heroic workers, Julião’s figures are slaves who wear poignantly unhappy expressions. Another watercolor, titled Serro Frio, depicts a proto–assembly line composed of slaves who are washing and retrieving diamonds. In this portrayal of management and labor, Julião fea- tures a row of white overseers sitting on high stools with small chests at their feet, while slaves in another, larger row carry out the backbreaking work of extracting stones and placing them in the boxes. The contrast be-
2.13 Serro Frio, by Carlos Julião (circa 1780). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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tween the two sets of figures is placed in greater relief by the expression of the first overseer, whose face is turned to the viewer and who appears bored and about to fall asleep. In a much simpler but no less dramatic painting, two white overseers examine a slave to ensure that he has not hidden any
2.14 Two Overseers Search a Slave, by Carlos Julião (circa 1780). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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precious stones on his person. Julião effectively portrays the submission and vulnerability of the slave, who stands stripped of his clothes and holds his hands high in the air under the colonial inspectors’ gaze. Julião also portrays master and slave in situations whose urbanity is im- plied by their dress. Two drawings show black slaves in colorful uniforms carrying coach-style litters that bear upper-class women whose exquisite finery is partially revealed as they peek out from their curtained trans- portation. The wealth conveyed by these paintings of elegant coaches and brocaded servant uniforms that include hats and other fineries is subtly undermined by the depiction of the litter-bearing slaves’ bare feet. Julião’s figures of black vendors are beautiful in color and unusual in style. One particular figure of a black woman balancing a whole fish on top of her head has a vaguely surreal look. Her female companion, who carries a large bas- ket of bananas and other fruits on her head, looks like the prototype for
2.15 Two Black Vendors, by Carlos Julião (circa 1780). Courtesy of the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
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