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Liêdo Maranhão

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Dentist, Writer, Sculptor, Filmmaker, Photographer


Liêdo Maranhão

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Last update: 25/07/2017

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Liêdo Maranhão de Souza was born in the neighbourhood of São José in the city of Recife, on 3 July 1925.

He attended elementary and secondary schools in Recife, graduating in Dentistry fromthe Recife Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy in the late 1940s.

With some friends and his brother Jovinianoin November 1949,he founded the Escola de Samba Estudantes de São José (Students of St Joseph Samba Club), one of the most traditional in the Pernambuco Carnival.

He travelled to Paris in the early 1960s, where he had an internship as a dentist in Hospital de La Pitié, under the guidance of professor Michel Dechaume. He was lateran intern at the Hospital Provincial de Madridwith a scholarship from the Institute of Spanish Culture.

He remained in Europe for three years, visiting eleven countries. He hitchhiked, washed dishes in hotels, unloaded trucks, played tambourine with Orchestra del Guadalupe and did some performances in Madrid theatres.

He married Spaniard Bernarda Ruiz and returned to Brazil, settling in Olinda.

In 1964, he began making wooden sculptures and won an awardat the Pernambuco Art Exhibition. He also participated in theAtelier + 10, situated in Amparo St,Olinda, alongside artists like João Câmara, Anchises Azevedo, Wellington Virgolino, Vicente do Rego Monteiro, Montez Magno, Delano and Maria Carmem.

He joined the Brazilian Communist Party, militating until after the 1964 military coup. He was Secretary of Finance of the Municipal Directory and had links with Recife Popular Culture Movement, in Miguel Arraes’first government.

From 1967, he began traveling across the countryside in search of cordel pamphlets for a study about ‘cangaço’, falling in love with popular literature. Alongside friends João José (TV Universitária) and the film maker Fernando Spencer,he produced a 16mm documentary, which recorded the trajectory of the leaflets in the1970s, entitled O Folheto(The Leaflet). According to Ariano Suassuna, Liêdo Maranhão is today one of the greatest connoisseurs of Cordel Literaturein Brazil.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Liêdo visited the São José Market daily, coexisting with the most diverse common types who frequented the place and Dom Vital Square, known as the Market Square: ‘camelôs’(street vendors) – especially those selling remedies, glass eaters, snake-swallowers, street singers, prostitutes. His book O mercado, sua praça e a cultura popular do Nordeste(The Market, Its Square and Popular Culture in the Northeast), published by Recife City Council in 1977, is a documentary of everyday life in the area illustrated with 112 photographs taken by the author.

He was a contributor to the Equipemagazine, published by SUDENE employees, and of the Federal University of Pernambuco’sUniversity Journal, writing about popular poetry.

In 1977, he won first prize for sculpture in the 30thPernambuco State MuseumOfficial Art Salon.

Writer, sculptor, filmmaker and photographer, Liêdo is one of biggest collectors of popular culture of the Brazilian Northeast. For more than thirty years, he has been collecting documents, testimonies of people in the streets of Recife, searching old publications in second hand book storesaround the city, mainly about popular medicine and culinary dating back into late-19thand beginning of the 20th Centuries,as well as artistic objects. His house is a mixture of art gallery, museum and library;a space today called House of Popular Memory. It has iron sculptures salvagedfromdemolished Recifeconstructions; works signed by artists like JoãoCâmara, Bajado, José Cláudio; sculptures in stone and wood made by popular and anonymous artists; collections of precious and rare books; ‘cordel’ pamphlets; wood cuts; streamers and pamphlets from politics campaigns; and postcards, among other documents of North-eastern popular culture. The archive is estimated at about ten thousand units.

Recognized internationally as a competent researcher, Liêdo Maranhão is the largest authority on the streets of Recife, according to Raymond Catel, director of Portuguese-Brazilian Research Centreof the University of Sorbonne, in Paris. His book on the Market of São José, affirms Mark J. Curran, head of Department of Foreign Languages of the University of Arizona (USA) is a monument to Northeast popular culture.


He is the authorof the following works:

- Classificação popular da Literatura de cordel (Popular Classification of Cordel Literature)(Petrópolis: Vozes, 1976)
- O mercado, sua praça e a cultura popular do Nordeste: homenagem ao centenário do Mercado de São José 1875-1975. (The Market, Its Square and Northeast Popular Culture: a tribute to the centenary of the São José Market 1875-1975) (Recife: Prefeitura, 1977)
- O povo, o sexo e a miséria ou o homem é sacana (People, Sex and Poverty or Men are Bastards)(Recife: Guararapes, 1980)
- O folheto popular: sua capa e seus ilustradores (Popular Pamphlets: their covers and illustrators)(Recife: FUNDAJ, Ed. Massangana, 1981)

Conselhos, comidas e remédios para levantar as forças do homem (Advice, Food and Medicines to IncreaseMen’s Strength)(Recife:Bagaço, [1982]).

- Cozinha de pobre (Cuisine of the Poor) (Recife: Bagaço, 1992).
- Que só (As)(Recife: [s.n.], 1993)
- Marketing dos camelôs do Recife (Marketingof Recife Street Vendors)(Recife: Bagaço, 1996)
- A fala do povão: o Recife cagado-e-cuspido (Expressions of the People: The Spitting Image of Recife) (Olinda, PE: Published by the author, 2004)
- Marketing dos camelôs de remédio ou o mundo da camelotagem (Marketing of the Medicine Street Vendors or the World of ‘Camelotagem’) (Olinda: Published by the author, 2004).
- Rolando papo de sexo: memórias de um sacanólogo (Talking Sex; memoirs of a “dirtyologist”) (Olinda, PE: Livro Rápido, 2005).


Recife, 28 november 2008.
Updated on 28 august 2009.
Updated on 25 july 2017.
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012

sources consulted

CAMPÊLO, Clóvis. Liêdo Maranhão. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 28 nov. 2008.

EXPOSIÇÃO Casa da Memória Popular. [convite] [Foto neste texto]. Recife, 2008.

FERREIRA, Nádia. Liêdo e sua "memória política". Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 28 nov. 2008.

LIÊDO Maranhão. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 28 nov. 2008.

MELLET, Luiz Ernesto. O escriba dos excluídos. Continente Multicultural, Recife, ano 3, n. 28, p. 52-55, abr. 2003.

MOTA, Urariano. Liêdo Maranhão, o Kama Sutra do povo. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 27 nov. 2008.

SOUZA, Liêdo Maranhão de. O mercado, sua praça e a cultura popular do Nordeste: homenagem ao centenário do Mercado de São José 1875-1975. Recife: Prefeitura Municipal, Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977. p. 13-14.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Liêdo Maranhão. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009