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Dila [José Soares da Silva]

Date Born:

Woodcutting artist and cordel poet


Dila [José Soares da Silva]

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Last update: 05/09/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Woodcutting artist and cordel poet, José Soares da Silva, who also signed his work as José Cavalcanti e Ferreira, José Ferreira da Silva or simply Dila, was born in the town of Bom Jardim, Pernambuco, on 23 September 1937, to Domingos Soares da Silva and Josefa Maria da Silva.

He sold cordel literature at markets in Pernambuco, Alagoas, Paraíba and Ceará.

He is said to have arrived in Caruaru, where he has lived until this day, in 1952. He worked for the newspapers Vanguarda and Defesa, which printed his poems. He even did the page layout in wood at the newspaper Agreste, where he made stamps and did xylography.

Later, he set up a small graphic workshop, Art Folheto São José (St Joseph Flyer Art), which later became Gráfica São José, or Gráfica Sabaó, or Prelo Santa Bárbara, or even Flòlhéteria Càra d’Dillas.

Etcher of various multicoloured flyer covers and albums, labels for drinks and medicines, illustrator of books and stamp manufacturer, he is one of the few popular poets who use rubber or linoleum, besides wood, to cut out xylographs with a razorblade.

His first woodcuts were made for the cordel literature written by him and for other poets as well, such as Francisco Sales Arêda, Vicente Vitorino, Chico Sales, J. Borges, and João José da Silva.

Dila doesn’t like the literature of times when they talked about day-to-day facts of the community. His preferred themes are cangaço, the adventures of the cangaceiro Lampião and the miracles of Padre Cícero. Possessing a great imagination, all that matters is a mixture of reality and fiction. His fantasies lead him to say that he is the son of a Dutchman named Euclides Oliveira Figueiredo, who was the owner of 112 sugarcane factories, used 17 names to separate his families, had 63 wives, 130 sons and 127 daughters and left all of this written in a catalogue. Among his brothers, discovered accidently, are Lampião, Padre Cícero and Miguel Arraes.

Nowadays, his workshop fills orders for the manufacturing of stamps and labels for cachaça, vinegar, candy and other products of small manufacturers.

His house, situated in the neighbourhood of Nossa Senhora das Dores, in Caruaru, apart from being the location of his workplace, is also one of the city’s tourist attractions.

Dila was one of those considered as part of the Living Patrimony of Pernambuco, through the State Law nº 12.196 of 2 May 2002.

Recife, 3 August 2006.
(Updated on 24 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011



sources consulted


AMORIM, Maria Alice. Dila é aqui. Continente Documento, Recife, ano 4, n.43, p. 34-36,  mar. 2006.
ASSUMPÇÃO, Michelle de. Cordelista vive obra como real: o Lampião.  Diario de Pernambuco, Recife, 31 jan. 2006, p.4,  Especial: Patrimônio Vivo.
BIOGRAFIA: Dila (José Soares da Silva). Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 6 mar. 2006.

DILA [Foto neste txto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 3 set. 2012.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Dila (José Soares da Silva). Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.