New Flickr Album: Brazilian "cordel" woodcut illustrations

We’ve added a new album to our Flickr site: a selection of woodcut illustrations featured on the covers of Brazilian “cordel” chapbooks – or, the tradition of popular pamphlet poetry that emerged in the Brazilian Northeast at around the turn of the nineteenth century. These images first appeared in the 1920s, and were initially used to convey the stories of each poem to the poet’s audience or potential clients – who, originally, were largely illiterate or semi-literate – and to capture their attention. As a result, these illustrations appear in a variety of dynamic styles, and depict a wide range of topics. Today, these woodcut images serve as the visual representatives of “cordel” culture as a whole, and therefore constitute an unmistakably national legacy.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library acquired its collection of approximately 2000 “folhetos” dated between 1934 and 2008 with the support of Brascan in the mid-1980s. The collection contains works printed by prolific poet-publishers such as Rodolfo Coelho Cavalcante, José Francisco Borges, and Franklin Maxado Nordestino. Also to be found within the Fisher’s collection of “cordel” pamphlets are woodcut illustrations from the likes of José Costa Leite, Dila (i.e. José Soares da Silva), and Ciro Fernandes – whose works are also featured as a part of the Library’s online Flickr collection.


The full set can be found by clicking this link.


A finding aid of the collection can be found by clicking on the link.