Caruaru Market

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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In Caruaru, a city in Pernambuco, known as the capital of the ‘Agreste’ region, on Wednesdays and Saturdays the most complete and important free market of Northeast Brazil takes place. The market began over 200 years ago and its origins are tied to those of the city. The place was a rest stop for cowboys bringing cattle from the semi-arid regions to the coast and merchants going in the opposite direction. The market takes place on Saturdays, beginning to be set up the afternoon before, as soon as the first peddlers start arriving with their products to sell. They arrive through the most diverse modes of transports: donkeys, wagons, old trucks, utilities, bicycles, oxcarts and cars as well. Because of its diversity, today the Caruaru market functions practically every day of the week.

In 1992, it was moved from the Conceição Church Square to 18 de Maio Park, also located in the city centre.

Hundreds of coloured stalls are spread out over more than two kilometres of the city’s streets, selling a wide range of products, especially handicrafts: straw, leather and fabric hats; baskets; clay and ceramic objects; popular toys; and cages.

There are sectors where fruit, greens, grains, medicinal herbs and meat are sold, just as there are others where you can find clothes, shoes, bags, pots and pans and other kitchen utensils, furniture, tools, odds and ends, radios, imported electronics and many other things.

There is a sector called ‘troca-troca’ (swap-swap) where nothing is sold, everything is traded: bikes, clocks, radios, clothes, musical instruments, wallets. The price is agreed upon after much haggling. Blind people play accordions, violinists and singers throw down their challenges and salesmen of cordel literature recite the prose of cangaceiros through loudspeakers.

Musical groups and fife bands are also found in the midst of the market. It is there, amongst the mixture commerce, festival and art, that popular artists create Northeast Brazilian culture.

The Caruaru market has many aspects which, although completely normal for those who live in the city, appear to be beautifully exotic to visitors. It is a point of attraction for artists, poets, bohemians and tourists from all corners of Brazil and abroad, who join in with the locals and overcrowd the stalls, which makes up a substantial source of income for the city of Caruaru.

The baião of Onildo Almeida, sung by Luiz Gonzaga, is an interesting summation of what the Caruaru market is.

A feira de Caruaru (The Caruaru Market)

Faz gosto a gente ver (It pleases us to see)
De tudo que há no mundo (Out of all there is in the world)
Nela tem prá vender (Whatever is for sale)
Na feira de Caruaru (Is at the Caruaru Market)
Tem massa de mandioca (There’s manioc dough)
Batata assada, tem ovo cru (Roast potato, there’s raw egg)
Banana, laranja e manga (Bananas, oranges and mangos)
Batata-doce, queijo e caju (Sweet-potato, cheese and cashew)
Cenoura, jabuticaba, guiné, (Carrots, jabuticaba, guineas)
Galinha, pato e peru (Chicken, duck and turkey)
Tem bode, carneiro e porco (There’s goat, sheep and pig)
E se duvidar inté cururu (And if you can believe even cane toads)
Tem cesto, balaio, corda (There are baskets, hampers, rope)
Tamanco, gréia, tem tatu (Clogs, crab, there’s armadillo)
Tem fumo, tem tabaqueiro, (There’s smokes, there’s tobacco)
Tem peixeira e tem boi zebu (There’s knives and there’s zebu cattle)
Caneco, alcoviteiro, peneira (Cups, chamber-pots, sieves)
Boa e mel de uruçu (Spirits and honey)
Tem calça de alvorada (There are denim pants)
Que é prá matuto não andá nu (So the hillbillies don’t go nude)
 A feira de Caruaru...  (The Caruaru Market)
Tem rede, tem baleeira (Has hammocks, slingshots)
Móde menino caçá lambu (for boys to hunt birds )
Maxixe, cebola verde, tomate (Gherkins, spring onion, tomato)
Coentro, couve e chuchu (Coriander, cauliflower and chayote)
Almoço feito na corda (Lunch made on the street)
Pirão mexido que nem angu,(Mixed gravy)
Tem fia de tamborete, que (There’s a long row)
Dá de tronco de mulungu (of mulungu wood stools)
Tem louça, tem ferro velho, (There’s porcelain, there’s scrap metal)
Sorvete de raspa que faz jaú (Good slushies)
Gelado caldo de cana, (Cold sugarcane syrup)
Planta de palma e mandacaru (Different kinds of cactus)
Boneco de Vitalino, que são (Vitalino dolls, which are)
Conhecido inté no Sul (Well-known in the south)
De tudo que há no mundo (Of all there is in the world)
Tem na feira de Caruaru (Caruaru market has it)
A feira de Caruaru... (Caruaru market)

On 6 December 2006, Caruaru market received the title of Brazilian Immaterial Cultural Patrimony, from the Ministry of Culture, through the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Patrimony (Iphan).

Recife, 15 July 2003.
(Updated on 28 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.


FONTES, Oleone Coelho. A grande feira de um país chamado Caruaru. Jornal do Commercio, Recife, 20 maio 1979.

MARCONI, Celso. A feira de Caruaru. Cultura, Brasília, a.4, n.14, p.104-112, jul./set. 1974.

ROMERO, Pedro. Feira de Caruaru é patrimônio brasileiro. Jornal do Commercio, Recife, 27 dez. 2006. Caderno C, p.1


Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Caruaru Market, PE. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.


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