Bandeira do Brasil

Bandeira do Brasil

Thursday, March 1, 2012


A carranca (Portuguese, literally "scowl"; pronounced cah-han-ka) is a type of figurehead attached to river craft which is attributed with power to protect the boatmen from the river's evil spirits. They were once commonly found on the lower Rio São Francisco in the river's Northeast region of Brazil. The carranca is most commonly a figure of a human or an animal.

Rio São Francisco (São Francisco River)
Today most authentic carrancas are only found in museums. Modern, more stylized versions are sometimes seen as decorations in restaurants or homes and commonly seen in tourist shops of the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Sergipe and Alagoas where the historic use was found on the lower Rio São Francisco. These range from key chain figures up to very large ones a meter or more in height and made from large tree trunks. Many, if not most of those are in the carranca-vampiro style rather than the classic boat figurehead styles of the past. The difference may be seen by comparing the photos of classic styles compared to the tourist versions pictured here.
Classic versions were painted, frequently chalk white with black hair, gaping red mouths and white fangs. The most common tourist versions follow similar schemes. A more modern, decorative unpainted version is often in natural wood and even polished.
While most of the modern tourist versions are produced quickly in quantity using one of several patterns a few are made by more artistic wood workers and show unique design or interpretations of "functional" carrancas from history. A few of these are "museum quality" art.

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