“Cangaço is the name given to a form of “social banditry” in the Northeast of Brazil in late 19th and early 20th centuries. In a reaction against land owners and the government, many men and women decided to become nomadic bandits, roaming the hinterlands seeking money, food and revenge.


“The cangaceiros had very specific notions of how to behave and dress. Despite the heat during the day, the cangaceiros preferred to wear leather clothing, embellished with all kinds of coloured ribbons and metal pieces.

“They also used leather gloves with coins and other pieces of metal sewn onto them, almost like armour.

“Because of the heat and the absence of water some cangaceiros wore French perfume which they stole from rich people’s houses, and used in large quantities”

- Wikipedia


About The Author

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Assistant Curator

Ruby Jones was raised in a small town in a wild and remote section of the northern Rocky Mountains in the United States. When the 1970s came around she left home to hitch-hike around the country and take mushrooms. After a few years Ruby settled in northern California and returned to school. She now teaches courses in mythology and folklore at a major California university.

6 Responses

  1. Germana Viana

    So cool! This post is great and congrats for the research, so – I’m brazilian and love to read about the cangaceiros.
    I think you will simply love “Literatura de Cordel” (I think we can translate as String Literature) they are beautifully illustrated with naif prints (woodcuts) and some of them told great tales and fables about Lampião and some other interesting characters. Anyway, thanks for this beautiful post :D

  2. nina

    They wore leather vaqueiro (cowboy) gear to avoid injury from all the cacti and caatinga, local thorny bush.

  3. Jean

    The leathers were used to protect themselves from the thorns of the caatinga, as already mentioned. Just for additional information, photos 3 and 7 are the group known as the “Bando de Lampião”, Lampião is the name of the one most famous outlaw. Photo 3, shows he and his companion, Maria Bonita.
    Photo 6 is scene from TV series produced in Brazil in the 80s, the couple are actors Xavier Nelson and Tania Alves, interpreting Lampião and Maria Bonita.


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