From diamantina diary

Vibrant Markets from around the World

Wherever my travels take me, markets are invariably on my to-do-list. Fruit and vegetable markets, spice markets, flower markets, crafts markets … their colors, their smells, the cacophony of sounds and voices immerse me and for a short while grant me the illusion that I belong.

Some are famous, highlighted in guide books, others are hidden treasures; one stumbles upon them by accident when turning a street corner or driving down a country road. Often I like those best. The produce is grown by the sellers in their own gardens, the arts and crafts are made by a family member or a neighbor and each piece tells a story.

Here are impressions of markets from around the globe, some I’ve visited, some are on my bucket list and some just struck my eye for the beauty of the images. I invite you to let your mind be transported.

 

Like most Brazilian cities Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais has a covered market in a central location, aptly named Mercado Central. Whenever we go to the “big city”, we make sure to pay it a visit –  to shop, to have lunch or sometimes just to take in the atmosphere. Being – almost – regulars we know where to find the best variety of spices, the best deals on Portuguese olive oil or my cherished German style pickles.

This vendor at the Mercado Central in Belo Horizonte specializes in peppers. image

 

Stanley Market is one of the tourist attractions of Hong Kong. You can find just about anything there, from traditional Chinese foods and typical items such as china, fabrics and crafts to knock-off designer handbags and electronics.

Multicolored textile items are among the countless offerings at Hong Kong’s Stanley Market. image

 

On the other side of the globe in La Paz is the Mercado de las Brujas or Witches Market. No trip to the Bolivian capital would be complete without visiting it. Here you can find medicinal plants, potions, good luck charms as well as dried frogs and lama fetuses. The latter are used as sacred offerings in Aymara rituals and are frequently buried in the foundations of buildings to protect the construction workers from accidents.

Good luck charms are for sale at the Witches Market of La Paz, Bolivia image

 

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is possibly the most famous market in the world. It is certainly one of the largest  with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops  which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

Passage in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul image

 

During our last visit to Paris we were lucky enough to stay at an apartment minutes from the famous Rue Mouffetard. Located in the 5ème arrondissement this narrow street is closed to traffic and the stores lining it extend the display of their culinary delights onto the sidewalks. A paradise for food lovers!

Rue Mouffetard, Paris image

Legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson has immortalized the street with his iconic picture of a boy carrying two wine bottles:

Rue Mouffetard by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1954

 

One of the numerous Parisian outdoor markets is the Marché Monge, on Rue Monge.

Marché Monge, Paris
Cheese vendor at Marché Monge, Paris

 

The Viktualienmarkt  is an open air market in the center of Munich complete with adjacent beer garden. Beloved by locals and visitors alike it dates back to 1807 and has recently been landmarked by the State of Bavaria.

Viktualienmarkt in the heart of Munich –  Photo by Katy Spichal

 

Most German towns have farmers markets, like this one in Tübingen. Some are held twice weekly, some every day.

Farmers market in Tübingen, Germany – Photo by ichbinsEvi

 

As you stroll down La Rambla in Barcelona you will pass the famous Boqueria Market – a true feast for the senses. Despite its location on one of the great tourist thoroughfares of the city, a surprising number of locals shop here and prices are competitive.

Boqueria market in Barcelona image

 

In the Mexican state of Chiapas the customers are as colorful as the products for sale.

Shoppers selecting produce at the market in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. image

 

The floating markets in Thailand and neighboring countries are a testimony to the importance of the waterways as means of transportation.

Floating market in Thailand image

 

This woman sells fabulous multicolored basketware in Ethiopia. image

 

And finally some impressions from our own market in Diamantina. The Mercado Velho (Old Market) is also known as Mercado dos Tropeiros, which means Muleteer’s Market, because – you guessed it – the merchandise used to be brought here from the surrounding farms and villages on the back of mules. It was built in 1835 and is duly landmarked. Today it is home to a fair only on Saturdays. On some other days it is venue for cultural or popular events.

Saturday fair at the Mercado dos Tropeiros in Diamantina. Photo by ZELÉO

 

A selection of cachaças or sugar cane liquor for sale at the Mercado dos Tropeiros. Photo by ZELÉO

 

Of course there are countless other markets on this planet and millions of photographs to attest to their fascination.

I hope you enjoyed our little journey. Maybe it inspires you to go exploring on your next trip or to rediscover the markets of your own town.

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Colorful Sawdust Carpets for the Easter Procession – an Expression of Faith and Tradition

Brazil is a largely catholic country, and all during Holy Week the faithful gather for prayers and processions.

Easter of course is the culmination of Holy Week. Christ has risen and the somber mood of the preceding days gives way to joy and exultation. The priest carrying the Eucharist through the streets is accompanied by eminent members of the community representing Christ, the apostles and other characters from the bible – a pronouncement of faith intertwined with tradition and folklore. Meanwhile the congregation opens a respectful passage and walks on the margins, not daring to tread where holiness is making its way.

Diamantina, like other historical towns of Minas Gerais, follows a tradition where striking colorful sawdust carpets mark the route of the procession. They are produced by local volunteers who meet at midnight to start the daunting and often backbreaking work. The city administration provides the materials: sawdust and sand previously dyed in an array of colors, the molds to lay out the designs and large panels depicting biblical scenes. Town employees, members of the military and even tourists pitch in.

In the early morning hours the work is complete and the final result is stunning. Last year photographer Raquel Galiciolli  accompanied the assembly process with her camera and later went back to register the finished carpets. Here are some of her pictures.

 

The volunteers arrive at midnight to work on the carpets
The volunteers arrive at midnight to work on the carpets.

 

Dyed sand and sawdust are the base for the carpets
Dyed sand and sawdust are the basic materials.

 

Large panels depicting biblical scenes are being fixed on the ground
Large panels depicting biblical scenes are being fixed on the ground.

 

Plywood molds help to create an even repeat of the design. The volunteers work for hours in a kneeling or bending position.
Plywood molds help create an even repeat of the design. The volunteers work for hours in a kneeling or bending position.

 

Street scene with the finished carpet
Street scene with the finished carpet.

 

A medallion with the Holy Spirit at its center
A medallion with the Holy Spirit at its center.

 

Another stretch of carpet with the cathedral in the background
Another stretch of carpet on the street leading to the cathedral.

 

Seen from the tower of the cathedral
View  from the tower of the cathedral.

 

Detail through the cathedral window
Detail seen through the cathedral window.

 

Members of the community dressed as apostles with the priest carrying the Eucharist
 The priest carrying the Eucharist surrounded by members of the community dressed as apostles.

 

No procession would be complete without little girls dressed as angels. The congregation takes care not to step on the carpet, which is reserved for the "official" participants of the procession
No procession would be complete without little girls dressed as angels. The congregation takes care not to step on the carpet, which is reserved for the “official” participants of the procession.

 

Many thanks to Raquel for sharing her pictures with us. You can follow her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000427952237&fref=ts

Happy Easter everybody! And thank you for visiting. Feel free to sign up for e-mail notification or like my page on facebook. And please don’t hesitate to comment!

 

 

Ora-Pro-Nobis

For those of you who understand Latin you will recognize the words above as “pray for us”. If you are familiar with Brazil, and with the state of Minas Gerais, you will know that it is also the name of a plant.

Specifically a kind of cactus – though this might come as a surprise even to those who are acquainted with it – with the scientific name Pereskia aculeata. It is an undemanding clambering plant with fiery thorns and oblong leaves. Its spectacular flowers give off a pleasant fragrance, but alas only last for a day or two.

Ora-pro-nobis flowers
The gorgeous flowers appear between January and March. Sadly their beauty is short-lived, as they die within a day or two.

In Minas, and to a lesser degree in other regions of Brazil ora-pro-nobis is part of the culinary tradition. The leaves, rich in proteins, vitamins, fibers, iron, calcium and other minerals, are used in the sauce of stewed chicken or meat. Or they may be sauteed with garlic as a side dish. Raw they can be an ingredient for salads. More and more recipes incorporate them in nontraditional ways.

Ora pro Nobis leaves
The leaves of the ora-pro-nobis plant are an important ingredient in the culinary tradition of Minas Gerais.

A number of medicinal properties are attributed to the plant as well. The leaves release a mucus when cut, which is popularly used as anti-inflammatory ointment for skin irritations or in case of burns.

So, after all, where does the unlikely name originate? Legend has it that people were harvesting the plant in the garden of a parish priest while overhearing him praying in Latin. They liked the ring of it and the name stuck.

I guess now I owe you at least one traditional recipe.

 

From my Kitchen: Farofa de Ora-Pro-Nobis

Farofa is essentially  Brazilian, and simply cannot be translated. Its base is coarse manioc flour (“farinha de mandioca”), which gets roasted in fat with any number of other ingredients – often including eggs – to become a flavorful crisp side dish for meat or chicken. It’s also great with barbecue.

farofa de Ora pro Nobis

Here is my ora-pro-nobis version:

Ingredients:

1 tblsp cooking oil

50 g bacon, finely cubed

1 small onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 red or green bell pepper, finely cubed

1 cup ora-pro-nobis, finely chopped

1/2 – 3/4 cup coarse manioc flour

salt, dried oregano and black pepper to taste

 

Preparation:

In a non stick skillet heat the cooking oil and add the bacon, fry until crisp. Add the onions and garlic and sautee until golden, then throw in the peppers and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the ora-pro-nobis, cook until they start wilting, about 1 – 2 minutes. Season with the dried oregano, salt and pepper.  Finally gradually pour in the manioc flower, stirring constantly until it reaches a crumbly consistency.

 

Farofa de ora-pro-nobis

Ingredientes:

1 colher de sopa de óleo de cozinha

50 g de bacon cortado em cubos pequenos

1 cebola pequena cortada em cubos pequenos

2-3 dentes de alho picado

1/2 pimentão vermelho ou verde cortado em cubos pequenos

1 xícara de ora-pro-nobis picado

1/2 a 3/4 de xícara de farinha de mandioca

sal, orégano e pimenta do reino a gosto

 

Modo de preparo:

Esquentar o óleo em uma panela antiaderente e em seguida acrescentar o bacon. Deixar bem frito e adicionar a cebola e depois o alho. Assim que ambos tiverem dourados adicionar o pimentão e continuar cozinhando aproximadamente 5 minutos. Acrescentar as folhas de ora-pro-nobis  e cozinhar mais 1 – 2 minutos, até  o ora-pro-nobis muchar. Temperar com orégano, sal e pimenta do reino. Finalmente adicionar a farinha aos poucos, sempre mexendo até chegar na consistência desejada.

 

I hope you enjoyed our little excursion into the kitchens of Minas Gerais. We always appreciate your comments. Please follow us on facebook or sign up via e-mail if you like to be kept up-to-date on our posts.

 

 

The Art of Coco e Ouro

Among the many treasures that can be found in Diamantina is a unique kind of jewellery: exquisite miniature pieces of art. are born out of the unlikely fusion of the humble coconut shell and the noble gold.

The technique dates back to the second half of the 19th century. Ezequias Lopes, a Portuguese goldsmith who settled in Diamantina at that time, claimed to have invented it. His apprentice Antônio de Padua de Oliveira followed in his footsteps and went on to open his own jewellery store. “Joalheria Padua”, a little jewel box in itself, exists to this day under the direction of his namesake grandson, and is considered the oldest store of its kind in Brazil.

Over the last 130 years or so, others have mastered the art , thus turning “Coco e Ouro” into a true Diamantina hallmark.

 

This comb, used to hold a woman's hair covering in place, is the oldest known piece in existence today. The reverse side is engraved "PADUA 1888"
This magnificent comb, used to hold a woman’s hair covering in place, is the oldest known piece in existence today. The reverse side is engraved “PADUA 1888” (1)

 

 Another antique item is this drinking bowl, here shown upside down. It features complex carvings that depict scenes of Diamantina surrounded by a flower and leaf pattern interrupted by the typical gold pinheads. A diamond sits at its base. Another antique item is this drinking bowl, here shown upside down. It features complex carvings that depict scenes of Diamantina surrounded by a flower and leaf pattern interrupted by the typical gold pinheads. A diamond sits at its base.
Another stunning antique item is this drinking bowl, here shown upside down. It features complex carvings that depict scenes of Diamantina surrounded by a flower and leaf pattern and the typical gold pinheads. A diamond sits at its base. (2)

 

Some of the more typical designs like this cross haven't changed much over the years
Some of the more typical designs like this cross haven’t changed much over the decades. (3)

 

Here is the same piece at several stages of completion
Here at different stages of completion. (4)

 

Bringing out the details.
Bringing out the details.(5)

 

coco e ouro Jorge 5
Another traditional design element is the flower, in this case used in a necklace. (6)

 

First the shape is punched out of the coconut shell, then each "flower" is individually carved from the disk.
First the shape is punched out of the coconut shell, then each “flower” is individually carved from the disk. (7)

 

The pieces are then joined with the previously prepared gold components.
The pieces are then joined with the previously prepared gold components. (8)

 

The devout often weren't above flaunting their status by using coco e ouro rosaries.
The devout often weren’t above flaunting their status by using coco e ouro rosaries. (9)

 

Antônio Padua in his workshop.
Antônio Padua in his workshop. (10)

 

Photo Credits: Jorge Vasconcelos (1), (2), (6), (7), (8), (9), Raquel Galiciolli (3), (4), (5), (10)

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Pico do Itambé

Pico do Itambé is the highest peak in the area at 2002m and its prominence is enhanced by its distinctive shape. It was a point of  reference  from the time the first Portuguese scouting expeditions, the “Bandeirantes”, set foot in the region in the 17th century thru the period when explorers and naturalists documented their pursuits  during the 200 years that followed.

Today it forms a picture postcard backdrop for a number of towns and villages that have come into existence since then, Diamantina among them. In 1998 a state park with an extensive trail network was created, challenging the nature lover to climb its slopes and feel the exhilaration of standing on its top.

Of course Pico do Itambé is also a much photographed landmark. Here is a first selection of great pictures, taken by various photographers from different vantage points.

 

First morning light in Diamantina
First morning light in Diamantina (1)

 

Sunrise
Sunrise (2)

 

Capivari
Capivari (3)

 

Low clouds
Low clouds (4)

 

Near Diamantina (3)
Near Diamantina (5)

 

Near Retiro, São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras
Near Retiro, São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras (6)

 

The blue hour
The blue hour (7)

 

Evening in Diamantina
Evening in Diamantina (8)

 

Between Diamantina and São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras
Between Diamantina and São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras  (9)

 

Photo Credits: Mariano Vale (1),  Sérgio Miranda (2),  Jorge Vasconcelos (3) (4) (5) (6) (9), ZELEO (7) (8)

All images are copyrighted by their respective photographers and are used with their permission.

 

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After Night has Fallen

Sérgio Miranda has been documenting Diamantina with his camera for about 15 years. He switched to digital photography less than two years ago, and  has maintained the discipline of carefully studying and composing each frame, rather than shooting indiscriminately and selecting the best images later.

By creating a forum on facebook, “Clickphoto Diamantina“,  he’s encouraging others to do the same. Today he is sharing with us a series of nocturnal images, capturing the poetry and magic that can be felt everywhere after the town has gone to sleep.

 

Igreija do Rosário e Teatro Santa Isabel
Igreja do Rosário e Teatro Santa Isabel

 

Catedral
Catedral

 

Sacadas
Sacadas

 

Torre da Catedral
Torre da Catedral

 

Mercado dos Tropeiros
Mercado dos Tropeiros

 

Lanterna e lua cheia
Poste de luz e lua cheia

 

 Igreja Bom Jesus
Igreja Bom Jesus

 

 Vista do Cruzeiro
Vista do Cruzeiro

 

Praça do Bomfim
Praça do Bomfim

We look forward to seeing more of Sérgio’s images.

 

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Diamantina in Detail

Starting today “diamantina diary” will introduce new contributing photographers, both professional and amateur, each of whom will present us with their very own perspective of this enchanting town.

Today’s feature is by Raquel Galiciolli, a longtime Diamantina resident.

“Diamantina,

Uma cidade fotogênica e muito fotografada. Difícil descobrir um ângulo ainda não registrado. Ainda assim, ouso revelá-la através de detalhes. São  eles que me encantam, diariamente.Um passeio atento por suas ruas nos permite perceber que se trata de um lugar inesquecível.”

          Raquel, fisioterapeuta por formação, saúde pública por escolha e fotografia por paixão!
“Diamantina,
a photogenic and much photographed town. It’s hard to find an angle that hasn’t been recorded yet.
Still I dare to reveal her through details. It’s they which enchant me, every day. An attentive stroll through her streets makes us realize that this is an unforgettable place.”
          Raquel, physiotherapist by training, public health by choice and photography by passion!
            
Rua do Amparo - Amparo Street
Rua do Amparo – Amparo Street

 

Torre - Church tower
Torre – Church tower

 

Passeio - Sidewalk
Passeio – Sidewalk

 

Igreja São Francisco - Saint Francis church
Igreja São Francisco – Saint Francis church

 

Janela - Window
Janela – Window

 

Catedral - Cathedral
Catedral – Cathedral

 

Torre da catedral - Cathedral tower
Torre da catedral – Cathedral tower

 

Entardecer no centro - Eventide in the center
Entardecer  – Eventide

 

Lua cheia - Full moon
Lua cheia – Full moon

Thank you Raquel for sharing these beautiful images with us. We hope to see more of your work soon.

 

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Chimerical Diamantina

These black and white pictures taken in Diamantina by Jorge Vasconcelos were selected by the photographer from the series  “Visão Plástica – Beleza e Descaso” (Plastic Vision – Beauty and Neglect).

They were taken with a Holga, an analog camera with a plastic lens. The imperfections of the lens blur the edges and distort the images in a unique way, imbuing them with a soft, dreamlike quality.

 

Igreja do Rosário - Rosário Church
Igreja do Rosário – Rosary  Church

 

Chafariz - Fountain
Chafariz – Fountain

 

Vista da torre da Igreja N.S. do Carmo - View from the tower of Our Lady of Carmel Church
Vista da torre da Igreja N.S. do Carmo – View from the tower of  Our Lady of  Carmel Church

 

Cemitério - Cemetery
Cemitério – Cemetery

 

Cruzeiro - Cross
Cruzeiro – Cross

 

Pau do Cebo - Grease Pole
Pau do Cebo – Grease Pole

 

Basilica S.C. Jesus
Basílica S.C. Jesus – Sacred Heart of  Jesus Church

 

Mercado dos Tropeiros - Muleteers' Market
Mercado dos Tropeiros – Muleteers’ Market

To see more of Jorge’s work go to www.flickr.com/photos/jorge-vasconcelos/sets/

 

Thank you for your comments!

Obrigada pelos seus comentários em português!

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