Arts and crafts

Brazil does not offer the variety and quality of arts and crafts you'll find in the Andes. However, good buys include: beautiful bead jewellery and bags made from Amazon seeds; clay figurines from the northeast, especially from Pernambuco; lace from Ceará; leatherwork, Marajó pottery and fabric hammocks from Amazônia (be sure to buy hooks '
ganchos para rede'
for hanging your hammock at home); carvings in soapstone and in bone;
gold-grass bags and jewellery from Tocantins; and African-type pottery, basketwork and
artefacts from Bahia. Brazilian cigars are excellent for those who like mild flavours.

Gold, diamonds and gemstones

Gold, diamonds and gemstones are good buys throughout Brazil and there are innovative designs in jewellery. Buy at reputable dealers (the best value is in Minas Gerais), but cheap, fun pieces can be bought from street traders. There are interesting furnishings made with gemstones, and marble - some of them rather cheesy; and huge slabs of amethyst, quartz and crystal at a fraction of a new age shop price.


Brazil has long eclipsed Argentina as the fashion capital of Latin America and São Paulo is its epicentre, hosting the largest fashion show south of New York twice a year at the city's fashion week. Brazilian cuts, colours and contours are fresh and daring by US and European standards. Quality and variety is very high, from gorgeous bags and bikinis to designer dresses, shoes and denims. In São Paulo the best area for fashion shopping is Jardins (around Rua Oscar Freire) and the
shopping centre on Avenida Faria Lima, and the city's most exclusive shopping emporium,
. In Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema is the place to go for high-end shopping, as well as the
São Conrado Fashion Mall

Herbal remedies

For those who know how to use them, medicinal herbs, barks and spices can be bought from street markets throughout Brazil. Coconut oil and local skin and hair-care products (fantastic conditioners) are better quality and cheaper than in Europe.

Music and instruments

If there is a more musical country on earth than Brazil we are yet to learn of it. Music is as ubiquitous as sunlight in Brazil and browsing through a CD shop anywhere will be sure to result in at least one purchase.

Musical instruments are a good buy, particularly Brazilian percussion items. For example, the
, a bow with a gourd sound-bell used in
; the
friction drum, which produces the characteristic squeaks and chirrups heard in samba; and assorted hand drums including the
(the big samba bass drum); and the
caixa, tambor, repinique
(drums that produce the characteristic Brazilian ra-ta-ta-ta-ta). The most Brazilian of hand drums is the tambourine, a misnomer for the
(which comes with bells), as opposed to the
(which comes without). There are many unusual stringed instruments too: the
(desert fiddle), the
(the Portuguese ancestor of ukulele), the
(Brazilian mandolin), with its characteristic pear shape, and many excellent nylon-strung guitars.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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