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José Costa Leite

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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Considered one of the most well-known names of Cordel literature in Northeast Brazil, José Costa Leite was born in Sapé, in the state of Paraiba, on 27 July 1927.

He has been living for a long time in Condado, a municipality in the Pernambuco Forest Zone.

He is one of the most important and renowned engravers or woodcutters of Brazil, having a fine technique and very personal style.

Using his ‘quicé’or ‘caxirenguengue’ (a worthless old knife, with or without a handle), to engrave his woodcuttingsin cajáwood –from the Anacardiaeatree family (Spondiaslutea L)with a soft texture, easily worked and abundant in the North East region –he creates numerous woodcuts, illustrating the covers of hispamphlets.

The former Institute of Sugar and Alcohol published, in 1972, an album with 21 of his woodcuts, collected by folklorist Evandro Rabello, alluding to the most widespread means of transport used in the Northeast sugar-cane zone, past and present: the ox car, the wagon, truck, train, the cab (kind of coach) that once drove the sugar baron’s family, the hammock, the horse, the tractor.

José Costa Leite began writing popular poetry at the age of 20, and now has over 500 pamphlets. His art, besides being exhibited in several Brazilian states, is also known internationally, through exhibitions in New York, USA and Santiago, Chile.

In December 2006, José Costa Leite received the title of Living Patrimony of Pernambuco, alongside the Carnival club O Homem da Meia-Noite and circus artist India Morena (Margarida Pereira de Alcântara).

The Joaquim Nabuco Foundation’sBlanche Knopf Central Library has a large collection of his Cordel pamphlets in its possession.

Below analphabetical list of some of his Cordel pamphlets:

 

  • ABC do cachaceiro (The ABC of the Drunk).
  •  Bandeira sempre ao alto, presença de Pernambuco (Flag Always Flying High, the Presence of Pernambuco).
  • Beijo de mulher bonita e carinho de mulher feia (The Kiss of a Beautiful Woman and Fondness of Ugly Woman).
  •  A Boa vida do rico e a triste vida do pobre (The Good Life of the Rich and the Sad Life of the Poor).
  •  O Boi do pé da cajarana (The CajaranaTree Bull).
  • O Boiadeiro do sertão e a filha do fazendeiro (The Hinterland Cowboy and the Farmer's Daughter).
  • A briga de A. Silvino com Lampião no inferno(The Fight Between A. Silvinoand Lampião in Hell).
  •  A carta misteriosa do Padre Cícero Romão(The Mysterious Letter from Father Cicero Romão).
  • O casamento de Camões com a filha do rei(The Marriage of Camões with the King’sDaughter).
  • O conselho da mocidade. (The Youth’sCouncil)
  •  Os dez Mandamentos, o Pai Nosso e o credo dos cachaceiros(The Ten Commandments, the Our Father and the Creed of the Alcoholic).
  • O Diabo e o camponês(The Devil and the Peasant).
  • O dicionário do amor(The Dictionary of Love).
  • Discussão de um fiscal com um matuto(Argument Between an Inspector and a Hick).
  •  Discussão de Rodolfo Cavalcante com José Costa Leite (Argument Between Rodolfo Cavalcante and José Costa Leite).
  • O encontro de Lampião com a negra dum peito só(The Encounter of Lampião with a Black Woman with Only One Breast).
  •  A filha que matou o pai por causa de uma pitomba(The Daughter Who Killed her Father because of a ‘Pitomba’ Fruit).
  • O Frei Damião sonhou com o Padre Cícero Romão(Friar Damião Dreamed about Father Cicero Romão).
  • A herança da minha avó (ou o cavalo para gatão)(The Legacy of my Grandmother (or The Horse for a Big Cat))
  • História de três amigos ou o poder do dinheiro(Story of Three Friends or the Power of Money)
  • O homem que enricou porque plantava algodão(The Man Who Got Rich from Planting Cotton).
  •  Homem que foi se enforcar – com medo da carestia(The Man Who Hanged Himself - Afraid of Costliness).
  •  Jorge e Luizinha
  • Josimar e Anita ou o galo de ouro(Josimar and Anita or the Golden Rooster)
  • Lampião fazendo o diabo chocar um ovo(LampiãoMaking the Devil Hatch an Egg).
  •  O lubisomem da Paraíba(The Paraiba Werewolf).
  •  O matador de onças(The Pumas’ Killer).
  • A mensagem de Jesus ou o Sermão da Montanha(The Message of Jesus or the Sermon on the Mount).
  •  A moça que “pisou” Santo Antônio no pilão prá casar com o boiadeiro(The Girl Who "Ditched" St. Anthony in the Mortar to Marry a Cowboy)
  • A moça que virou porca em Rio Tinto(The Girl Who Turned into a Pig in Rio Tinto).
  •  Mulher bonita e cheirosa deixa o homem arrepiado(A Beautiful and Fragrant Woman Makes Men Shiver)
  •  Mulher é como café quanto mais quente melhor(Woman is Like Coffee the Hotter the Better).
  • A mulher que engoliu um par de tamancos com ciúme do marido(The Woman Who Swallowed a Pair of Clogs Because She was Jealous of her Husband).
  • A mulher que quebrou as “gaias” do marido com uma mão de pilão(The Woman Who Broke her Husband’s“Horns” with a Pestle).
  • Não há quem saiba entender o coração da mulher(No One CanUnderstand aWoman’s Heart).
  •  Nascimento,vida e morte de Antonio Silvino(Birth, Life and Death of Antonio Silvino)
  •  Um passeio a São Saruê(A Trip to St. Saruê).
  • Peleja de Geraldo Mousinho com Cachimbinho(The Fight between Geraldo Mousinho and Cachimbinho)
  •  Peleja de José Costa com Ana Rôxinha(The Fight between José Costa and Ana Rôxinha).
  • Peleja de José Costa com José Jeronimo (The Fight betweenJosé Costa and José Jeronimo).
  •  Peleja de José Costa com a Sabiá do Sertão(The Fight between José Costa and the Sabiá do Sertão).
  •  Peleja de José Costa Leite com Maria Quixabeira (The Fight between José Costa Leite and Maria Quixabeira).
  •  Um pequeno agricultor que se tornou fazendeiro. (A Peasant Who Became a Farmer)
  • O pobre homem caipora e o Doutor Sabe-Tudo(The Poor Unlucky Man and Dr Know-It-All)
  •  A pobreza morrendo de fome, no golpe da carestia(Poverty Starving at the Stroke of Costliness).
  • Os quatro conselhos do fazendeiro Adriano(Adriano the Farmer’sFour Pieces of Advice).
  •  Quem gosta da corrução só quer morar em Campina(He Who Likes Corruption Wants to Live in Campina).
  •  O rapaz que beijou o pai da moça enganado(The Boy Who Kissed the Girl’s Father Instead)
  •  O rapaz que virou bode porque profanou de Frei Damião[sic](The Boy Who Became aGoat for Desecrating Friar Damião).
  • A santificação, a oração e a profecia do Padre Cícero Romão(The Sanctification, Prayer and Prophecy of Padre Cicero Romão).
  •  Satanás na gafieira(Satan on the Gaff).
  • O satanaz reclamando a corrução de hoje em dia(Satan Complaining Against Today’s Corruption).
  •  Sertão, folclore e cordel: a boiada sertaneja(Hinterland, Folklore and Cordel Literature: Backlands Cattle).
  •  Os sinais do fim do mundo e as três pedras de carvão(The Signs of the End of the World and the Three Stones of Coal).
  •  As travessuras de Pedro Malazarte(The Antics of PedroMalazarte).
  •  Vassourinhas e sua tradição (Vassourinhas and Its Tradition).
  •  A véia debaixo da cama e a perna cabeluda(The Old Woman Under the Bed and theHairy Leg).
  •  A verdadeira riqueza(The Real Wealth).
  •  A vida de João Malazarte(The Life of JoãoMalazarte).
  •  A vida de Lampião e Maria Bonita(The Life of Lampião and Maria Bonita).
  •  A Voz de Frei Damião(The Voice of Friar Damião).

 

Recife, 5 february 2007.

Update on 28 august 2009.

Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.

Update on 24 july 2017. 

 

 

SOURCES CONSULTED:

 

 

JOSÉ Costa Leite. Disponível em:  <http://www.ablc.com.br/historia/hist_cordelistas.htm>. Acesso em: 23 jan.2007
 
JOSÉ Costa Leite [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <http://www.cultura.pe.gov.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/DSCF1274-foto-jaqueline-silva.jpg>. Acesso em: 21 jul. 2017. 
 
MARANHÃO, Liêdo. O folheto popular, sua capa e seus ilustradores. Recife: Fundaj, Ed. Massangana, 1981. (Série monografias, 20). 
 
REGISTRO do Patrimônio Vivo tem três novos nomes:  Disponível em: <goo.gl/4LB6HQ>. Acesso em: 23 jan. 2007
 
TRANSPORTES na zona canavieira: vinte e uma xilogravuras de José Costa Leite. Rio de Janeiro: IAA; Divisão de Administração Serviço de Documentação, 1972.
 
 

 

HOW TO CITE THIS TEXT:

 

 

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. José Costa Leite. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar_en/index.php>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.

 

 

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