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Between Tradition and Modernity

The Bororo in Photographs of the 1930s

Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

The single largest group of images in the collection of the Museum fr Vlkerkunde
Wien (Museum of Ethnology Vienna) are the photographs taken by the Austro-Brazilian
photographer Mario Baldi (18961957) between the 1920s and the time of his death,
when this group of documents was received from his estate. Since the pictures (negatives, prints, and slides), numbering somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000, were
mostly without documentation, it was decided to catalogue them under a single number, in the vague expectation that one day the problem of the missing documentation
could be solved.2 This day came in 2008, when it was learned that another part of
Baldis estate had ended up in the archives of the Secretaria Municipal de Cultura in
Terespolis, where Baldi had lived prior to his death.1 Contact was established with
Marcos Lopes, who had discovered this treasure trove in the archives of his hometown
and was both cataloguing the collection and using it for his academic research (e.g.,
Lopes 2010). The resulting exchange of information definitely promoted a better
understanding of the material in Vienna (without solving all of the problems) and led
to a joint exhibition of a selection of Baldis pictures in the Arquivo Nacional in Rio de
Janeiro and subsequently at the Casa de Cultura Adolpho Bloch in Terespolis, accompanied by a catalogue (Lopes and Feest 2009).
In Baldis photographic work, indigenous subject matter plays a minor, but significant role, overshadowed by the fact that he ultimately died together with his second wife
during a field trip among the Tapirap. Except for the occasional appearance in his photographs of the 1920s, when he was traveling as private secretary with Dom Pedro de
Orleans e Bragana, the nephew of the last emperor of Brazil, Indians became of interest to the photographer Baldi only in 1934, when he accepted a commission from the
Salesian Fathers to produce a film on their missionary endeavors among the Bororo of
Christian Feest was director of the Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien between 2004 and 2010, professor
of anthropology at the Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, between 1993 and 2004, and curator of
the North and Middle American collections and of the photo archives of the Museum fr Vlkerkunde
Wien between 1963 and 1993.
Address: Fasanenweg 4a, D-63674 Altenstadt, Germany.
E-mail: christian.feest@t-online.de
Viviane Luiza da Silva was a staff member of the Museu das Culturas Dom Bosco, Campo Grande, MS.
Address: Rua dio Guimares, no.59, Conj. Recanto dos Rouxinis, Campo Grande/MS 9063350, Brazil.
E-mail: vivianeluiza@gmail.com
We are grateful to Patricia Siqueira for establishing the contact with Marcos Lopes.
Etta Becker-Donner, who was director of the Museum fr Vlkerkunde from 1955 to 1975, had met
Baldi in Brazil either in 1954 or 1956, and had acquired from him 30 photographic prints for the
museum. Baldis ethnographic collection, mostly of Karaj and some Tapirap material, came to
Vienna with his photographic estate.

Archiv fr Vlkerkunde 5960 (20092010): 167202


Figs. 1, 2 The collection of Baldi photographs in Vienna included 12 boxes with thematically arranged
prints (now rearranged after documenting the original order) and an associated visual index of contact
prints pasted to index cards, a small box with glass and 6/6 and 6/9 nitrate negatives, an album with
35mm negatives, and 66 35mm color slides. The Terespolis collection includes the complementary
boxes with prints and index cards as well as documentary material on Baldi, but no negatives. Photo:
Christian Feest.

Mato Grosso.3 This provided Baldi also with an opportunity to take at least 136 photographs of the Bororo in Meruri, Sangradouro, and Jarudori, to which another 31 were
added, when he returned to Meruri in 1936 in the company of Dom Pedro (Feest and
Luiza da Silva 2009: 17). On this occasion, Baldi also paid his first visit to the Karaj,
whom he would revisit in 1938 in the company of Doralice Avellar, a Swedish-Brazilian
filmmaker, once again before 1947, and for a last time in 1956 (Lopes 2009, Wolf
2009). A juvenile book, published by Baldi (1950, 1952) both in Portuguese and
German, reflects both his close association with the Karaj and his contribution to the
integration of the indigenous peoples into the construction of Brazils national identity
(Lopes 2009: 30). In the 1940s, Baldi was associated with the government-sponsored
Roncador-Xingu expedition, although his photographic record, at least in Vienna, of this
event is meager; he did, however, contribute images to the Lincoln de Souzas book on
the Xavante (19521953). After his remarriage to the Dutch anthropologist Ruth Yvonne
Fimmen, he also worked among the Tapirap and produced photographs for the

So far, it has been impossible to locate this film, although there is evidence that it was completed
and shown in So Paulo in 1938 (Baldi 1935b, c; Lopes 2010: 106). As in the case of Baldis Bororo photographs, the film would be of substantial interest for comparative purposes. In addition to
the early Rituais e festas Borro filmed in 1916 at the S.P.I. post at the Colnia de So Loureno and
produced in 1917 for the Comisso Rondon by Luiz Thomaz Reis (Museu do ndio, Rio de Janeiro,
SN00564X NOX, also VHS CRVI004; cp. Tacca 2002, da Cunha 2006), there were several films
made among the Bororo in the 1930s, including Last of the Bororo (1930/1) by the American adventurer Aloha Baker (National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, SA76.5.1), The Hoax (1932), apparently a by-product of the University of Pennsylvania Museum Matto
Grosso Expedition, which produced substantial footage at the Colnia Crrego Grande (National
Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, SA-91.7.1), from which also
derive the completed film Primitive Peoples of Matto Grosso: The Bororo (University of Pennsylvania
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA, upenn-f16-4012) produced in 1941
by Ted Nemeth, and Warrior Dances (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and
Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA, upenn-f16-4050), footage edited in 1941, as well as Meruri, made
in the 1940s by Brigadier Raymundo Aboin (National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, SA-94.1.2). Claude and Dina Lvi-Strauss Cerimnias funerrias entre os
Bororo and A vida de uma aldeia Bororo of 1935 survive in the Cinemateca Brasileira, So Paulo (cp.
Beaurenaut et al. 1991).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 3 Johann Natterer, Boror de Caiara, 1826(?). Pen drawing from Natterers diary. Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Archive.
Fig. 4 Aim-Adrien Taunay, Indiens Borors a l'entre de la maison de Mrs. Riedel et Taunay. Dcembre, 1827. 22x27 cm. Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt Petersburg, Archives, 63-2-101.
Fig. 5 Hercule Florence, Indienne de la Chapada, fille dun Paresis e dune Bororo. Guimares, Mai
1827. Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt Petersburg, Archives.

Tapirap monograph by Herbert Baldus (1970), material also not found in the Vienna
Mario Baldis Bororo photographs turn out to be a major contribution, both in
terms of quantity and quality, to the visual documentation of the Bororo in the 1930s.
The present paper was designed to put Baldis work in a comparative perspective in
an attempt to point out both its merits and shortcomings as well as to provide a basis
for a brief discussion of the contributions of visual representations to the ethnographic data base (cp. also Hartmann 1975).
Bororo Images Prior to the 1930s
Before proceeding to the presentation and discussion of the evidence, a brief summary of the history of the visual representation of the Bororo before the 1930s will help
to recapitulate Bororo history and remind ourselves of the fact that there is indeed a
history of visual representations of indigenous peoples (see also Kmin 2007), which
provided the foundation for the work of Baldi and others in the 1930s.
According to our present knowledge, the earliest surviving images of Bororos were
produced probably in 1826 by the Austrian zoologist Johann Natterer (17871843),
whose contributions to the ethnography of Brazil are still insufficiently recognized
(Feest 2012). As his zoological drawings indicate (Martins Teixeira et al. 2000),
Natterer was a gifted artist, and it is to be regretted that two portraits of Bororos da
Campanha (Fig. 3), the westernmost group of the Eastern Bororo,4 and a sketch of the
manner of wearing a penis sheath were apparently his only attempts at ethnographic
illustration, despite his interest in collecting ethnographic artifacts and information.5

The evidence contained in the vocabularies collected by Johann Natterer clearly shows that the
Bororo da Campanha were speakers of Eastern Bororo, while the language of the Bororo do
Cabaal spoke were speakers of a Western Bororo language.
Natterers diaries, of which only fragments have survived, include a few other rough sketches of
ethnographic interest (e.g., Riedl-Dorn 2000: 76).

Between Tradition and Modernity


These drawings were made between October 1825 and June 1826 during a visit of the
Fazenda da Caissara near Cceres (Villa Maria), where the survivors of a war waged
against the Bororo by Colonel Joo Pereira Leite were living under the watchful eyes of
their conqueror (cp. Viertler and Ochoa 2012).
Many more drawings were produced in the following year by Aim-Adrien Taunay
(18031828) and Hercule [Hrcules] Florence (18041879), who accompanied the
expedition of Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, which in December 1827 visited the aldeia
of Pau Seco, a few miles upstream from Caissara, where another group of pacified
Bororo da Campanha was living under conditions of exploitation by Joo Pereira Leite.
Even though Costa (2007) has argued that Taunay was a romantic artist who found
himself totally misplaced in a scientific expedition, and despite his young age at the
time of his Bororo drawings, he already could look back upon the experience of having participated as an artist at the age of fifteen in the circumnavigation of LouisClaude de Saulces de Freycinet, during which he had learned to face the challenges of
ethnographic illustration. Four of his fifteen Bororo drawings are of artifacts collected by Langsdorff for the Kunstkamera in Sankt Petersburg, and stand in the early tradition of the decontextualized representation of objects related to ethnographic collecting. While there are two posed group portraits of Bororo families, individual portraits are lacking in this group, and the majority of Taunays drawings has a narrative
character, which is supported by captions, such as Assembly of Bororo Indians of the
settlement of Pao-Seco between the Paraguay and Jaur rivers: They are attentive to
a report made by one of them, of a battle against a jaguar. Four of the drawings
(including both group portraits; cp. Fig. 4) place the Bororo in a situation of culture
contact, rather than representing them as untouched children of nature.6
In contrast, the Bororo drawings by Florence made in September 1827 in Jacobina
feature portraits in the new tradition, encouraged by the rise of physical anthropology in the late eighteenth century, of combined frontal and profile views (Fig. 5), which
had replaced the combination of front and rear views of the sixteenth-century bookof-costume mode. In addition, there are men carrying bows and arrows, women with
burden baskets, children emulating adult gender roles, and one sketch of dance.7 It is
perhaps this stylization of subject matter, which makes Florence more of a scientific illustrator than an artist (Ambrizzi 2008). The portrait here illustrated was not
taken in Jacobina, but four month earlier in Guimares, and shows the daughter of a
Pareci man and a Bororo womana specific example of intertribal marriages certainly common at the time, but often not specifically noted.
Two images found in the Vues et scnes volume, published in 1852, illustrating the
1843 to 1847 expedition to Brazil and other parts of South America by Francis de
Laporte de Castelnau (18121880), appear to be the only depictions of Bororos
between the 1820s and the 1880s. One is a profile portrait of an unidentified Bororo
chief, sketched by Castelnau and executed by an artist named Pochet under the
supervision of the experienced lithographer Jean-Jacques Champin, who was in

All of Taunays drawings are in the archives of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Sankt Petersburg. Eleven of them were first published in black-and-white by Manizer (1967: fig. 1819, 2124,
2627, 32, 34, 36) in the context of other documents relating to the Langsdorff expedition. More
recently, all of them have been reproduced in color in Monteiro and Kaz (1988, 2: 94105).
Contextual information on the drawings is contained in Florences journal, first published, shortly
before his death, in 1875, and frequently reprinted since then (e.g., Florence 1977). It contains
engravings based on his drawings, which provided the basis for Karl von den Steinens (1899) discussion of Florences Bororo drawings. Color reproductions are found in Monteiro and Kaz (1988, 3:
6465) and Carelli (1992: 5455, 6063).
Florence, it may be added here, was not only the independent inventor of photography in Brazil and
coined the word photography, but in 1832 photographed one of his own Bororo drawingsthe
first Bororo photograph, so to speak (Oliveira n.d.: 9).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 6 Hugh Algernon Weddell, Village dindiens Cabaas

[Village of the Cabaas Indians], Rio Jaur, 1844. Lithograph by Jean-Jacques Champin (Castelnau 1852: pl. XXX).
Fig. 7 Francis de Castelnau, Chef Bororo [Bororo chief],
1844. Lithograph by Jean-Jacques Champin (Castelnau
1852: pl. XII).

charge of the production of the plates in this volume.8 Castlenaus only personal contact with the Bororo occurred in 1844. Proceeding along the Jaur upriver from Villa
Maria (Cceres) and finding Pau-Seco deserted, he finally stopped at Registo de
Jaur on 1 and 2 June. Here, on the left bank of the river, was a village of about 110
Cabaas or Western Bororo, who had been settled there about ten years before by
Padre Jos da Silva Fraga, a priest from Jacobina. Castelnau mentions taking craniometric measurements and collecting a vocabulary (which is clearly Western
Bororo), but he must have used the occasion also for sketching the portrait
(Castelnau 18501851, 3: 4347, 49, 51; 1852: 9). The second image is of the same
village of the Cabaas and was based on a drawing by Hugh Algernon Weddell
(18191877), a British botanist raised and educated in France, who traveled with
Castelnau and stopped at the village in August 1844, when it was ravaged by famine
and disease (Castelnau 18501851, 3: 4749; 1852: 13). The two pictures are
remarkable for being the only known illustrations of Western Bororos in existence.
In the 1880s, the Eastern Bororo of the region of the Rio So Loureno met a fate
similar to that already experienced in the 1820s by their relatives between the Paraguay
and Jaur rivers, when they were settled by the government at several colnias in their
homelands. Only one year after the establishment of the Colnia Teresa Cristina in
1887, the Bororo living there were visited by the German expedition of Karl von den
Steinen (18551929). Von den Steinen, who wrote the first major ethnographic account
of the Eastern Bororo (cp. Viertler 1993), was accompanied by the anthropologist Paul
Ehrenreich (18551914),9 who also acted at the expeditions photographer, and by his
cousin, the artist Wilhelm von den Steinen.10 Illustrations selected for the book include


Castelnau had previously traveled in North America and published a travel account accompanied
by an atlas of illustrations, which display a certain lack of artistic talent (cp. Kasprycki 1990:
8891). It may be for this reason that he placed the execution of the plates into the hands of a
professional artist.
The original photographs are in the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Berlin. Cp. Lschner (1993) and
Kmin (2007).
Numerous drawings of Bororos by Wilhelm von den Steinen are preserved in the archives of the
Museum fr Vlkerkunde, Dresden (SES) (Fig. 10).

Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 8 Paul Ehrenreich, Boror mit Federn beklebt Fig. 9 Paul Ehrenreich, Bororo, Weiber Amelia und
[Bororo glued with feathers], Colnia Teresa Cris- Maria [Bororo, women Amelia and Maria], Colnia
tina, 1888 (von den Steinen 1894: Taf. 17).
Teresa Cristina, 1888 (Ehrenreich 1897: 94, fig. 26).

portraits (some of them in the frontal/profile mode), posed full figures of men and
women showing traditional or ceremonial clothing and ornamentation (Fig. 8), men
shooting with bow and arrows (Fig. 11b), a view of the village plaza in front of the
mens house, and ceremonies. Although von den Steinen expresses his critical view of
the governments policies and discusses some of its effects, the images in the book
(but also Wilhelm von den Steinens numerous drawings) hardly reflect these changes,
but were selected to focus on traditional culture.
Ehrenreich also published a book with the results of the physical anthropological
research of the expedition, which includes 26 portraits in the frontal/profile mode and
full figures of Bororo men, women, and boys, including a few identified by name. Most
of the pictures are heavily retouched, because the majority of the negatives had been
damaged by water and the climate (Ehrenreich 1897: 3); in the authors view, however, the effort had been worthwhile, given that one single good image was worth more

Fig. 10 Wilhelm von den Steinen,

Colnia Teresa Cristina, 1888. Pencil on paper. Grassi Museum fr
Vlkerkunde, Leipzig, Archiv AIRIII


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 11 Bororo men shooting with bow and arrows: (a) Aim-Adrien Taunay, detail from Vue du village
des Indiens Borors, nomm Pao-Seco [View of the village of the Bororo Indians, called Pao-Seco],
1827 (Russian Academy of Sciences); (b) Wilhelm von den Steinen, Schieender Boror [Bororo
shooting], 1888 (von den Steinen 1894: Taf. 28); (c) William Azel Cook, untitled, 1901 (National
Anthropological Archives, Washington, DC); (d) Dale, A Bororo Indian Shows How to Shoot, 1919 (Hay
1920: pl. facing 37); (e) David M. Newell (?), So Loureno Bororo Drawing the Bow, 1931 (Petrullo
1932: pl. 5, fig. 2); (f) Mario Baldi, Tiro flecha [Arrowshot], Jarudori, 1934/5 (Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, VF_30896_02886C); (g) Hans Morf, untitled, 1938 (Vlkerkundemuseum der Universitt
Zrich, 420.01 438); (h) Anonymous (Grisoni album), Lustige Affenjagd [Amusing moneky hunt],
19371939 (Museum der Kulturen Basel, [F]IVc7559).
The fact that on the two missionary photographs (d) and (h) the archers are wearing trousers, while
they are naked in the other images, not only indicates missionary influence, but also the growing pluralism of Bororo society. Baldis photograph (f), one of a series of images showing an archery contest,
rather than the use of bows in hunting, shows the men wearing trousers and the boys going naked. It
may be also the only photograph in this series that was not posed.

than a whole volume of measurements (Ehrenreich 1897: 2). The same problem
affected, of course, the illustrations in von den Steinens book (1894), some of which
were also retouched, while others were based upon Wilhelms drawings; two plates
(only in part founded upon documentary visual material) were produced by Johannes
Gehrts (18551921), who is otherwise best known as an illustrator of wildlife, juvenile,
and historical fiction.
Both painting and photography, however, did rely on an established canon of
ethnographic genres, including views of villages and houses, individual or group portraits, depictions of artifacts, and representation of economic, technological, social,
and ceremonial activities. There were also standard iconographic types, such as warriors, medicine men, firemaking, shooting the bow, mothers with their children,
etc., which provided the basis for visual comparison (Fig. 11). These types are remarkBetween Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 11 Julio Koslowsky, Grupo de

indgenas Borors [Group of Bororo
Indians, ca. 1895 (Koslowsky 1895:
lm 1).

Fig. 13 Guido Boggiani, Two Bororo men, profile view, Colnia Teresa Cristina, before 1901. National
Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, P05692.
Fig. 14 Guido Boggiani, Two of the Bororo men shown in Fig. 12 and another one with Father Giovanni
Balzola, Colnia Teresa Cristina, before 1901. Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt Petersburg, 1391-1 (Vojtec
h Fric coll.).
Fig. 15 Anonymous, Vojtec
h Fric and three Bororos, 1901. National Museum of the American Indian,
Washington, DC, P11533.

ably consistent over time, and while they may be regarded as stereotypes, they are
also visual concepts serving the needs of communication.
In the early 1890s, Julio Koslowsky (18661923), a native of Lithuania, who had
emigrated to Argentina in the late 1880s and who would become the founder of
Argentinean herpetology and one of the persons instrumental in securing much of
Patagonia for Argentina (Aguado 2003), undertook biological and anthropological
research in Paraguay and the Mato Grosso. This included a visit in 1894 to the Bororo
da Campanha village now located at Laguna south of Cceres between Cambar (where
they had previously suffered under the mistreatment of Major Joo Carlos Pereira Leite,
Colonel Joo Pereira Leites son) and Descalvado (another one of Leites estates, which
had been purchased in 1881, a year after the owners death, by Jaime Cibilis Buxareo,
a rancher and meat processor from Uruguay). Koslowsky also went to another Bororo
village near San Matas across the Bolivian border, which had already been shown on
Castelnaus map. The only known photograph taken on this occasion either at Laguna
or San Matas and published in Koslowskys notable account of the condition of these
remnants (Fig. 12), shows several men mostly in traditional (un)dress and two women

Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

in Western clothes and relates to his discussion about changing styles of dress
(Koslowsky 1895: 393393). But, as he points out, men were also wearing NeoBrazilian clothing when engaged in seasonal work is Descalvado, and thus his photographs to some extent also privileges the representation of tradition.
Guido Boggiani (18611902) was an Italian artist, who after coming to Argentina
at the age of twenty-six, became interested in the indigenous peoples of the Chaco
in Paraguay and undertook ethnographic field work and collecting in Paraguay and
Brazil, especially among the Chamacoco, Kadiwo, and Kinikinau (Guan), which
after 1895 he supplemented with more than 500 photographs (Fric and Fricova
2001). His work among the Bororo was probably instigated by his countryman,
Father Giovanni Balzola, who in 1895 had become the first director of the Salesian
mission at Colnia Teresa Cristina, and must date from between 1895 and the time
of his death in 1901/2 at the hands of the Chamacoco or Toba. Boggianis surviving
Bororo photographs appear to be limited to the frontal and profile view of two Bororo
men associated with the Salesian mission at Colnia Teresa Cristina (Figs. 13), which
were published in 1904 as part of a set of 100 postcards illustrating the types of
Indians of South America (Lehmann-Nitsche 1904).
The rescue of Boggianis field notes and photographs is generally credited to
Vojte ch Fric (18821944), a Czech adventurer, botanist, and amateur anthropologist
(Kandert 1983). Following in Boggianis footsteps, Fric stayed with the Bororo of the
Colnia Teresa Cristina and at Quejare between September 1904 and January 1905,
where he assembled a large ethnographic collection (now widely scattered) and gathered Bororo ethnographic data, published as one of three articles co-authored by Paul
Radin (Fric and Radin 1906).11 Except for one photograph showing himself in the company of Bororos (Fig. 15) and a few pictures that had been taken by Boggiani (Fig. 14),
there is, somewhat surprisingly, apparently no Bororo material in his sizable collection
of photographs.
Brazilian photography began to take a more pronounced interest in the Bororo at
about the same time,12 especially in connection with the explorations of Cndido
Rondon (cp., e.g., Baldus 19561958, Vangelista 1995, Tacca 2002),13 the Salesians
and other missionaries who were invited to contribute to the integration of the Indians
into the national society, and later the S.P.I. (Servio de Proteo ao ndio).




Ethnographic material collected by Fric among the Bororo is found in the Kunstkamera in Sankt
Petersburg (Zibert 1961), which also has a large collection of his photographs, as well as in the
Nprstek Museum in Prague (which also has some photographs), the Historisches Museum in
Berne, the Staatliches Museum fr Vlkerkunde in Munich, the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in
Cologne, the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin, and the Museum fr Vlkerkunde Hamburga total
of nearly 400 objects.
Earlier Brazilian photographs of the Bororo include the two images of Piududo made in the late
1880s, which formed the basis for the oil portrait of Guido de Mello Rego, the adopted Bororo son
of Maria do Carmo de Mello Rego, whose own drawings add another dimension to the history of
visual representation of Bororo culture and society (Pacheco 2003). They, however, bear no visible
relationship to the pencil drawings collected by anthropologists from untrained Bororos (e.g., von
den Steinen 1894: pl. XVIII, XIX; Hanke 1956: 152168).
The major repository of photographs of the Commisso Rondon is the archive of the Museu do
ndio, Rio de Janeiro (cp. http://base2.museudoindio.gov.br/cgi-bin/wxis.exe?IsisScript=phl82.
xis&cipar=phl82.cip& lang=por), but especially for the early period appears to be incomplete. The
database presently features one Bororo photograph by Alberto Brand dating from 1903 and five taken
presumably in 1916 by Thomaz Reis, but the majority is from a much later period. Two of the Reis
pictures also appear in a collection of 13 Bororo photographs associated with the Commisso Rondon from various locations (Rio So Loureno, Podoreu [Poxoreu], San Miguel [?], Jorigue) donated to
the Muse de lHomme in Paris (now at the iconothque of the Muse du quai Branly) by Benjamin
Rondon (who is also credited as the photographer); they were apparently acquired in 1942 and are
said to date from between 1927 and 1930.

Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 16 Commisso Rondon, Me Borro [Bororo mother], ca. 1906

(Anonymous 1916: facing 55).

Fig. 17
Rondon, Kuiure. Moa
Borro do S. Loureno
[Kuiure. Bororo girl
from the S. Loureno],
ca. 1906 (Anonymous
1916: frontispiece).

Having been credited with the pacification of the Bororo in 1901 (cp. Langfur
1999) and being himself on his mothers side of part-Bororo decent, the Bororo were
obviously of greater ideological than ethnographic concern for Marechal Rondon. In
this sense, the most striking image is that of the Bororo girl Kuiure (Fig. 17), which
embodies Rondons vision of the political incorporation of indigenous peoples into
the nation state (Vangelista 2011: 5556) as well as his belief in the leading role of
women in the maintenance of society; but in juxtaposition with the image of a traditional Bororo mother it clearly also makes a claim about the role of civilization for
indigenous welfare (Fig. 16).
Among the missionaries, the Salesian Fathers came to be of central importance not
only in the process of the conversion of the Bororo, but also as their chief ethnographers and photographers.14 This is not the place to assess the vast number of Salesian
photographs of the Bororo taken since the early twentieth century and published both
in the missionary journals Bollettino Salesiano and Boletim Salesiano and in scholarly
publications ranging from the monograph on the Eastern Bororo, first published in
1925 by Father Antonio Colbacchini (18811960), to the Enciclopedia Bororo (Albisetti
and Venturelli 1962).15 It is notable, however, that in their scholarly work, the Salesians
almost exclusively focused on traditional culture, while the Bolletino Salesiano also featured contemporary subject matter (cp. Vangelista 1997: 141142). In Os Borros
Orientais, the major exceptions (other than the fact that almost all of the women and a
few men are wearing Neo-Brazilian dress) are provided by two photographs showing the


The major Brazilian archive of Bororo photographs taken by the Salesian Fathers is in the Museu de
Histria dos Salesianos no Brasil, So Paulo (which we have not seen). A few related albums are also
kept in the archive of the Universidade Catlica Dom Bosco, Campo Grande. The Bollettino Salesiano
can be accessed online at http://biesseonline.sdb.org/bs/archivio.aspx. On the Salesians and the
Bororo see e.g., Caiuby Novaes (1997: 65101), Vangelista 1997, Montero 2007, and Tolentino 2009.
It seems that in the beginning the Salesians had no photographers of their own. The ethnographic
account by Antonio Marlan (19071911) is only illustrated with drawings; Colbacchinis first book on
the Bororo (1919) is completely without illustrations. Except for the picture of the Bororo student
band (Fig. 17), the earliest Bororo photographs in the Bollettino Salesiano appear in 1910. Many of
the photographs in the Enciclopedia Bororo are anonymous; the only Salesian photographers identified
by name are Csar Albisetti, Antonio Colbacchini, Johann Fuchs, and Antonio Tonelli (Albisetti and
Venturelli 1962: 0.190.20).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 18 Anonymous, I piccoli musici della Colonia de D. Cuore fra i Bororos allEsposizione
Nazionale di Rio de Janeiro [The little Bororo
musicians of the colony of the S. Heart at the
National Exposition in Rio de Janeiro], 1908 (Bollettino Salesiano 32[10]: 307]).

Fig. 19 Anonymous, Tiago ensinando ao Missionrio [Tiago teaching the missionary], Sangradouro, ca. 1940 (Colbaccchini and Albisetti 1942:

visit of a Bororo student brass band to President Afonso Pena in 1908,16 which curiously illustrate the section on traditional Bororo musical instruments (Colbacchini and
Albisetti 1942: 356, 360; Fig. 18 shows a similar picture also taken in Rio de Janeiro
in 1908); the photographs of the young musicians are also the only ones that are dated
and thus removed from the timelessness of the ethnographic present.
There are two other images, which, although not explicitly related to one another,
graphically illustrate the two major aspects of the Salesians work among the Bororo:
one is of a missionary teaching Bororo students mathematics, the other is of their
chief informant Tiago teaching Father Albisetti all the things that I knew
(Colbacchini and Albisetti 1942: 149, 27; Fig. 19; and see Fig. 32 below). Tiago, in
fact, also appears on the 1908 photograph taken in Rio de Janeiro, having been a
member of the Bororo brass band when he was a boy (Albisetti and Venturelli 1962:
0.14; cp. also Anonymous 1913).
Various Protestant missionaries were likewise attempting to join the project of civilizing the Bororo. While they were never able to compete successfully with the
Salesians, they also contributed to the photographic record. The earliest such documents are 28 pictures produced in 1901 by the American Presbyterian missionary
William Azel Cook, who traveled in various parts of Brazil looking for opportunities for
missionary work.17 After visiting the Karaj and Xerente (where apparently he did not
take any photographs), he stayed for several weeks with the Bororo in Tadri Umana
Pru and other villages on the Rio Vermelho. His photographs, in addition to group
portraits and village scenes (including inside views of houses; Fig. 21), also show such
canonic images as men shooting with bows and arrows and women carrying heavy
burdens (Fig. 11c, 20). Except for a few appearances in the photographs of Cook himself, no indication of any influence of the national society is visible, and the focus on
an "uncivilized way of life" serves as an implicit argument for the need to convert the


The story of the tour of the little Bororo musicians to Rio de Janeiro via Montevideo, Buenos Aires
and So Paulo was apparently of great significance for the Salesians. Stories about this event, which
was called a triumph for Christianity, but which ended with the death of three of the young musicians, filled the pages of the Bollettino Salesiano in 1908 and 1909 (32[9]: 271272, 32[10]:
306307, 32[11]: 339, 32[12]: 365370, 33[3]: 85, 33[10]: 370371).
The Bororo photographs by Cook are in the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Five of them appear in Cooks two publications dealing with the Bororo (Cook
1907: pls. IV, V; 1909: facing 398). Cooks ethnographic collection of Bororo material is in the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 20 William Azel Cook, Two Bororo Women Carrying Burden Baskets, 1901. National Anthropological Archives, Washington, DC, USNM 044024.00.

Fig. 21 William Azel Cook, Interior of a Bororo

House, 1901. National Anthropological Archives,
Washington, DC, USNM 044013.00.

Bororo to Christianity. Despite their limited number and sometimes poor technical
quality, the images are rich in ethnographic detail.
Other photographs were taken in 1911 by the British gentleman traveler Henry A.
Savage-Landor (18651924) on the Rio Barreiros and in 1919 by the Scottish
Protestant missionary Alexander Rattray Hay of the Inland South America Missionary
Union (founded in 1910 by John Hay) at Quejare, Pobore, and Colnia Teresa Cristina.
Savage-Landor, who acknowledges his debt to the Salesians, produced mostly posed
individual or group portraits (some of them in the frontal/profile style of physical
anthropology), but also shows Bororos working in agriculture (Figs. 22, 23), a subject
matter touched by the Salesians only in their missionary writings, where it relates to
their notion of labor as a means of assimilation (Caiuby Novaes 1997: 7980;
Vangelista 2011: 56). Hays photographs (some of them credited to Dale) have a similarly narrow range and once again illustrate archery and women carrying burdens (Figs.
11d, 24, 25); the latter subject is particularly prominent in the Protestant missionary
photographs (cp. also Figs. 20, 27) and relates to the Victorian notion of the squaw
drudge as an index of savagery (Smits 1982). A dance (Bororo Indians dancing the
Bacoror) is only shown in a drawing clearly caricaturing this traditional ceremonial

Fig. 22 A. Henry Savage-Landor, Bororos Thrashing Indian

Corn, 1911 (Savage-Landor 1913, 1: 256[a]).
Fig. 23 A. Henry Savage-Landor, A Fine Bororo Type on a
Visit to Authors Camp, 1911 (Savage-Landor 1913, 1: 208).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 24 Alexander Rattray Hay, Bororo Indian Huts on S.P.I.

Colony, Rio So Loureno, Matto-Grosso, Colnia Teresa Cristina,
1919 (Hay 1920: facing 40).

Fig. 25 Alexander Rattray Hay, Bororo Indian Women Carrying

Firewood, 1919 (Hay 1920: facing 41, center).

Fig. 26 Leonard Livingston Legters, Bororos at the Village Well,

1926. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC,
Fig. 27 Leonard Livingston Legters, Bororos Women with
Burden Baskets, 1926. National Museum of the American
Indian, Washington, DC, P13898.

activity (Hay 1920: facing 49). Both sets of pictures are presently only known from the
illustrations in books published by their authors (Savage-Landor 1913, Hay 1920),
which explains the poor quality of reproduction.
Rev. Leonard L. Legters (18731940), best known as co-founder of Summer
Institute of Linguistics and of Wycliffe Bible Translators, had since 1906 been
engaged in missionary work for the Dutch Reformed Church among the Comanche
in Oklahoma and among indigenous groups in California, before becoming associated with the ill-fated 19241930 Nambikwara mission of Alexander Rattray Hay and
Arthur F. Tylee (Frizen 1992: 156). It was on this occasion that Legters in 1926 produced a set of 62 photographs, which along with an ethnographic collection of
Bororo material were given in 1946, without further documentation, to the Museum
of the American Indian-Heye Foundation (now the National Museum of American
Indian in Washington, DC). The pictures are vastly superior technically and more
diverse in their contents than those of Hay, who figures on some them and whose
earlier work among the Bororo may have prompted the visit (Figs. 26, 27).
Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 29 David M. Newell, Bororo House Being Thatched, Crrego Grande, 1931 (Lowie 1956: pl. 84 top).
Fig. 28 David M. Newell, So Loreno Bororo Girl, Crrego
Grande, 1931 (Petrullo 1932: pl. VI, fig. 2).

Fig. 30 David M. Newell (?), The Jaguar Dance of the

Bororo, Laguna, 1931 (Petrullo 1932: pl. III, figs. 2).
Fig. 31 David M. Newell (?), The Impersonator of the
Jaguar, Bororo da Campanha, Laguna, 1931 (Petrullo
1932: pl. III, fig. 3).

Bororo Photographs of the 1930s

In 1931, the American anthropologist Vincent M. Petrullo (19061991), working for
the University Museum in Philadelphia, came to undertake ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork in Mato Grosso.18 Being aware of the extensive ethnographic work
done by the Salesians, he only paid a short visit to the Eastern Bororo at Colnia
Crrego Grande and also went to see the remnant group of the Bororo da Campanha,

The Bororo photographs taken during the University of Pennsylvania Matto Grosso Expedition are preserved in the archives of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology,
Philadelphia, PA (which we have not yet been able to see). Selections were published in Petrullo (1932)
and Lowie (1956).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 32 Herbert Baldus, Tiago Marques Aipoburu, Meruri, 1934 (Baldus 1937: pl. 13).

Fig. 33 Herbert Baldus, Pequena familia com o

Padre Director em Meruri [Small family with the
Father Director], Meruri, 1934 (Baldus 1937: pl. 10).

who had moved from Cambar to Laguna near Cceres. The anthropologist was
accompanied by the journalist and author David M. Newell, who appears to have taken
most of the pictures. Petrullo also produced a sound movie on Bororo dances and
industries (see note 2, above). Perhaps for this reason, the images of the Eastern
Bororo are largely portraits, pictures of houses and men using bows and arrows (Figs.
11d, 28, 29). They focus on traditional culture and hardly show any Western influence.
This is even more notable in the photographs of the Bororo da Campanha, whom he
describes in his published report as totally acculturated; the only images shown in the
publication, however, are of a jaguar dance, which (last witnessed by Koslowsky in
1894) had not been performed for many years and was now reenacted for the anthropologist in the tradition of memory ethnography (Figs. 30, 31).
From 1933 to 1935, Herbert Baldus (18991970), who later became one of Brazils
leading anthropologists, undertook research among the Bororo and other tribes of the
Mato Grosso supported by the German Science Foundation (Baldus 1938). In 1934, he
visited Meruri and Sangradouro, where the Salesian influence was clearly visible, and in
1935 proceeded to the more traditional village Tori-paru on the Rio Vermelho. In
Germany, Baldus had been a student of Richard Thurnwald, who was one of the first
European anthropologists interested in the study of culture change, and Balduss study
likewise focused on this subject. Even more than Mario Baldi, who came to Meruri and
Sangradouro shortly after Baldus, the German anthropologist took a critical view of the
work of the Salesians in its effects both on society and on individuals. In his photographs,19 Baldus clearly shows the dominating presence of the Salesians at Meruri (Fig.

Unfortunately, the present location of the original Bororo photographs by Baldus is unknown. They
are not in the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia in So Paulo (Francisca Figols, pers. com., 2009),
nor can they presently be located at the Museum fr Vlkerkunde in Hamburg (Anja Battefeld,
pers. com., 2009), which owns the ethnographic collection assembled during Balduss 1934/5
fieldwork. On Baldus and the Bororo, see also Caiuby Novaes (1997: 2730).
Balduss interest in pictures is indicated by the foreword he wrote for a book containing drawings
of Bororo, Kadiwu, and Ofai subject matter by the artist Erich Freundt (1947; see Fig. 68 below).
The recognition of his own limited abilities as a photographer led him to cooperate with Mario
Baldi and others to illustrate his publications (e.g., Baldus 1936, 1970).

Between Tradition and Modernity


33). Acculturation as it affected an individual is explored by Baldus in his study of Tiago

Marques Aipoburu (or Akirio Bororo Keggu, Akirio Borro Kejwu), a Bororo educated
and taken to Europe by the Salesians, who later returned to a life as a traditional hunter
(Fig. 32; see also Fig. 19, above). Despite his alienation from the Salesians at the time
of Balduss visit, Tiago returned to collaborate with the missionaries in 1938, and in
1940 contributed a foreword to the second edition of Os Bororo Orientais (Colbacchini
and Albisetti 1942: 2528; see also Albisetti and Venturelli 1962: 0.140.17; Fernandes
1975). One of the notable characteristics of the Baldus photographs is that nearly all of
the individuals shown are identified by name; all of them are wearing Neo-Brazilian
clothing, even the retraditionalized Tiago when returning from the hunt.
The career of Mario Baldi (18961957) as a photographer of indigenous peoples of
Brazil began in October 1934, after he had been hired by the Salesian Fathers to produce a film on their missionary work among the Bororo.20 The photographer/filmmaker, who carried with him an Agfa Movex 30 film camera and 4000 meters of Cine
Novopan film, set up his base camp at Langeado on the upper Rio Garas, and during
the following three months proceeded on a trip to the Bororo villages of Meruri on the
Rio Barreiro, Sangradouro on the Rio Sangradouro, and Jarudori on the Rio Vermelho
(Baldi 1935ac). Of the 136 photographs taken in the Bororo villages by Baldi and now
preserved as negatives and/or prints in the photo collection of the Museum fr
Vlkerkunde in Vienna, 31 date from a second visit to Meruri in 1936, when he was traveling with Prince Dom Pedro de Orleans e Bragana.21 Thirty-two of Baldis Bororo photographs were used to illustrate eight articles in Brazilian and European journals published from 1935 to 1937 (Anonymous 1936, Baldi 1935b, 1835c, 1936b, Carletti
1935, Figueirdo 1937, Magalhes 1936, Raeders 1935).
It is unlikely that Baldi at the time of his first encounter with the Bororo had any
knowledge of the earlier photographic record relating to them, and we therefore have
to assume that he was not influenced by the work of his predecessors. We may
assume, however, that he brought into this experience a generalized idea of the
Indian, based both on widespread romantic European perceptions acquired during
his childhood and youth in Austria and what he must have seen during more than ten
years of living in Brazil. The expected impact of Baldis first personal experience of
life in an Indian community (especially under the specific circumstances of the
Bororo in the 1930s) was mellowed by the presence and guidance of the Salesians
for whom he was working and with whom he was associating. There is a photograph
showing Baldi playing checkers with P. Albisetti in Jarudori in December 1934 (Fig.
34), and we can imagine how knowledge about the Bororo was transferred in such
informal settings from the seasoned missionary-ethnographer to the Austrian neophyte. Baldis captions to his images clearly reflect this influence in his use of the
self-designation Orarimugudoge for the Bororo and by the inclusion of ethnographic details not necessarily to be noted in a few weeks of acquaintance.
In a contribution for Agfa Novedades Baldi (1935b) speaks of some of the difficulties encountered by the photographer among the Bororo. Especially the older Bororo
around Jarudori on the Rio Vermelho were looking at the film camera and the photographic apparatus as a fetish and escaped into the bush, but were ultimately overcome by their curiosity about the mysterious machines. The indios civilizados of the
colnias, however, were not so much afraid of the camera than of being photographed



Of the 18 photographs relating to the Bororo mission published in the Bollettino Salesiano in the 1930s
(Albisetti 1930, 1931, 1935, 1936, 1937, Ghislandi 1932), four were taken by Mario Baldi (Carletti
Some prints of Baldis Bororo photographs are also found in the archives of the Secretaria Municipal de Cultura in Terespolis and of the Universidade Catlica Dom Bosco, Campo Grande.


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 34 Mario Baldi, [Mario Baldi] playing checkers with the missionary Csar Albisetti in the expedition
camp at the village Jarudori, 1934. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02870.
In the background, a Bororo woman and child are observing the strange customs of the Europeans. This
inadvertently revealing part of the image was cropped by Baldi when making a print from the negative.

without proper civilized dress, to the dismay of the photographer who wanted to
catch a glimpse of the natural man inhabiting the Mato Grosso.
In the early years of his, career Baldi had been using small glass plate negatives,
but by the 1930s had switched to a Rolleiflex 2 by 2 inch camera, which allowed
him to produce not only 6 by 6 cm negatives on Agfa Isochrome roll film, but with the
help of an adapter also 6 by 9 cm negatives. Since the prints are nearly all on paper
with a 1:1.5 width/height ratio, printing from the negatives necessarily entailed some
form of editing of the images recorded on the square negatives. The prints in the
Vienna collection supply evidence that Baldi in several cases varied his editorial choices, including both horizontal and vertical formats.
The fact that some of the negatives themselves had been trimmed to a different size
may have been the result of an accident that occurred on the way back from Langeado
to So Paulo, when during a river crossing Baldis trunk with all the undeveloped films
fell into the water. While most of the films apparently survived this mishap with little or
no harm, some of the surviving negatives show water damage (Baldi 1935b).
The photographic prints in Vienna indicate that Baldi, probably in 1936, prepared
four groups of photographs for publicationall with English and German captions
only one of which apparently was published more or less based upon this selection (but
with edited captions). AttentionCayamos! appeared in a Swiss illustrated magazine
(Baldi 1936a; a slightly different selection was used in Carletti 1935) and deals with a
recent deadly conflict between the Bororo and the Xavante and with the failed attempt
of the Salesians to establish peaceful relations with these traditional enemies of the
Eastern Bororo (Fig. 35).
The second set of pictures, entitled Outpost of Civilization shows more or less
traditional activities of the inhabitants of Meruri and Sangradouro, such as the use
of the fire drill, the manufacture of baskets and pottery, or the processing of maize
and manioc, but places them in the context of the missionaries influence on social
practices (such as the abandonment of the mens house and the disintegration of
the clan structure; Fig. 36).
Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 35 Mario Baldi, An Old Bororo from Merury,

2. Our Bororo-Guide, an old experienced chief,
emissary and forester, who has participated in the
first battle of the advancing settlers 80 years ago.
A beautiful lip-peg of carved mother-of-pearl shells
and a tassel of red tucano feathers mark his dignified position.
Fig. 36 Mario Baldi, Meruri, 1934. Museum fr
Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02784
Outpost of Civilization.
1. The Mission Cross of the Colony Meruri, simple
and straight, like the spirit of the missionaries.
Behind [it] the Bae Mangeju, the former House of
Men of the Bororos, falling apart. This picture is
very impressive. In the background, the old world
of spirits, disappearing, and in the front the sign of
the New Times, which they do not understand.
Likewise the mens house [in Meruri] is no longer
a completely enclosed building, whose interior is
guarded against the glances of the women, and
which exceeds in size all other houses, but resembles a makeshift shelter [...]. It also does not stand
in the center of the plaza, but near its fourth,
house-free side and not far from a monumental
wooden cross. Symbolically, this cross of the missionaries towers over the defiled site of Indian custom and belief (Baldus 1937: 278279).
Fig. 37 Mario Baldi, Father Albisetti and Bororo
Children in Jarudori, 1934. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02869.
The Thorny Way.
5. Most of the missionaries are well liked by the
Indio children, and they are also very fond of the
children. The missionary is well aware of the fact
that the serious work with children is of considerable importance. The children listen attentively
for hours to the beautiful stories the Good Father
is reading to them from the Holy Bible. They are
folding their hands willingly, to say their prayers
with him, in their native tongue. The first sprout
of faith is planted into their soul.
The worldview of the Bororo in the missions shows
a coexistence of the inherited beliefs, whose intensity has in part been weakened by the new way of
life, and of the foreign, recently introduced ones,
which are more or less observed, but which have
not been appropriated to the extent that they
become essential (Baldus 1937: 305).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 38 Mario Baldi, Start of the Mariddo-Dance,

Jarudori, 1934/5. Museum fr Vlkerkunde
Wien, F30896_02894.
Death Dances of the Orarimugudoge Indians.
9. One of the most interesting ceremonies; the
Mariddo-Dance, which is executed at night only,
at the light of flaring fires. Only with many presents I was able to persuade them to start this
dance in the late afternoon. In the center: The
Mariddo-wheel, consisting of red and green
heavy stalks and leaves of the Babassu-palm,
held together with broad stripes of palm-leaves.

The missionary labor of the Salesians itself is the subject of The Thorny Way,
which not seeks to convey an idea of the arduous nature of the conversion process,
but also supplies some insights into the Salesian strategy of working with children
(Fig. 37). Baldis text may already reflect his later experiences among the Karaj, as
in the statement that unluckily, all missionaries feel compelled to dress the poor
naked savages. But just as soon as the missionary turns his back upon the village,
everyone enjoys the painting of his tribe on his beautiful brown skin.
The last set is devoted to the complex Bororo mortuary rite, in which the mythical
hero Mariddo is impersonated by dancers. Here the images create the illusion of a traditional way of life totally unaffected by the influences of the now dominant national
society, whereas the accompanying text betrays Baldis indebtedness to the Salesian
ethnography (Fig. 38).

Fig. 39 Mario Baldi, View of Meruri, 1934. Museum

fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02791.

Between Tradition and Modernity

Fig. 40 Mario Baldi, Bororo Potters, Sangradouro,

1934. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_


Fig. 41 Mario Baldo, Bororo Children Taking a Bath,

Meruri, 1934. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien,

Fig. 42 Mario Baldo, Bloodletting with Small Bow as

a Cure against Headache, Meruri, 1934. Museum fr
Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02834.

On the whole, Baldi was able to produce a remarkable group of pictures, which
cover a broad range of subject matters. The largest series, about one fifth of the whole
set, is devoted to the mortuary ritual (including portraits of some of the participants
in their ceremonial attire or showing the use of musical instruments; Fig. 67) and a
dance performed by the Bororo on the occasion of Dom Pedros visit. Other series of
pictures are devoted to an archery contest (Fig. 11f) and to fishing (Fig. 43), but many
of the images focus are specific depictions of a broad range of different activities,
including technological processes (Figs. 40, 58), economic activities (Fig. 60), healing
(Fig. 42), transportation, games, swimming (Fig. 41), or sleeping. Men and women are
portrayed individually and in groups, both in traditional and civilized dress, with special attention to representations of women and children.

Fig. 43 Mario Baldi, Bororos Fishing, Meruri, 1936.

Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_03046.


Fig. 44 Mario Baldi, Girl with Parrot, Jarudori, 1936.

Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_ 02872.

Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 45 Claude Lvi-Strauss, Un

aspect du village Bororo Kejara [A
view of the Bororo village Quejare],
1935. Muse du quai Branly, Paris,

The subjects most willing to be photographed turned out to be the children, who, with
some gift, are grateful objects of our effort (Baldi 1935b) and consequently are prominently represented in Baldis photographs (Figs. 41, 44). There are also several village
scenes conveying an impression of the daily life in the communities (Fig. 39). The fact that
the presence of the Salesians and the nuns accompanying them is acknowledged derives,
of course, from the purpose of Baldis mission as a filmmaker for the missionaries, but is
nevertheless notable, since traditional ethnographic photography tends to focus on traditional culture and therefore often seems to deny the presence of processes of culture
change and its agents. The pictorial record produced by Baldi among the Bororo is, of
course, far from complete, but offers a rich and balanced view of various aspects of Bororo
culture in the 1930s.
In 1935, the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss (19082009) selected as a
site for his ethnographic fieldwork the village of Quejare on the Rio Vermelho, because
it was considered to be more traditional, i.e., not affected by the Salesian influence.
Curiously enough, his main informant in Quejare had been educated by the Salesians,
who had sent him to Rome, where he had been received by the Holy Father. ... This
papal Indian, who was now stark naked, ... was to prove a wonderful guide to Bororo
sociology (Lvi-Strauss 1955: 225; 1976: 280).22
In part because of this choice of a traditional village, only three of the 78 pictures currently preserved in the Muse du quai Branly in Paris23 show persons in


Although it would be tempting to think that this unnamed informant, who was about thirty-five years
old, spoke Portuguese fairly well and who had undergone a spiritual crisis during which he was reconverted to the old Bororo ideal, was no other than Tiago Marques Aipoburu, his portrait taken by LviStrauss (1936: pl. XC [cropped]; 1957: pl. 13; 1994: 9495) clearly shows him to be different person.
Also, he had been livin in Quejare for ten or fifteen years, while Tiago had been met by Baldus in Meruri
in 1934. He was too young to have been one of the three Bororos taken to Rome by Balzola in 1898
(Anonymous 1898), one of whom was living in Pobore in 1935 (Albisetti 1935: 25). Another young man
taken by Malan to Rome in 1906/7 had died in 1908 (Balzola 1907, Malan 1907, Anonymous 1908).
The Muse du quai Branly also owns the French part of Levi-Strausss ethnographic collection
from the Bororo; the Brazilian part is in the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia in So Paulo
(Gruponi 2005). 14 of these photographs (some of them cropped, one in a variant take) were published in Lvi-Strauss 1936: pls. VIIX. The French edition of Tristes Tropiques (1955: pls. 1118)
includes eight Bororo images (three of them the same as in 1936, sometimes cropped differently,
including one credited to Ren Silz); the English edition (1976) has no plates. In a photo book, published nearly sixty years after his fieldwork, Lvi-Strauss (1994: 88105) reproduces fifteen of his
pictures, one of them a composite village view, and another one not found in the collection of the
museum in Paris (Lvi-Strauss 1994: 104105). The illustrations in Lvi-Strausss publication are
from his own collection and not from that of the Muse du quai Branly. The present whereabouts
of the negatives is unknown.

Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 46 Claude Lvi-Strauss, Position

de la main droite pour le tir l'arc
[Position of the right hand in drawing
the bow], Quejare, 1935 (Lowie
1956: pl. 86 top; cp. Muse du quai
Branly, Paris, PP0002058).

civilized dress or otherwise indicate the results of contact with Brazilian society; they
were never used in the authors publication. Like Baldi, Lvi-Strauss paid special attention to the funerary ritualin this case, almost half of the photographs are devoted to
this subject. The second large group of images relates to houses (as the material culture of social organization and as such reflecting the second major interest of the
French anthropologist; cp. Lvi-Strauss 1936; Fig. 45), including village scenes, but
focusing on individual buildings and some of their features. A third group consists of
portraits, mostly of men; some of these follow the style of representing anthropological types and are related to the anthropometric measurements routinely collected by
Lvi-Strauss in the course of his fieldwork. The only genuine portrait is that of his
informant. The remaining pictures show details of clothing (notably two prominent
depictions of the penis sheath, last illustrated by Natterer), two abandoned boats, and
his informant demonstrating the use of bow and arrows (Fig. 46). However, contrary to
other photographers, Levi-Strausss attention is focused on the position of the fingers
in relation to the bowstring, and thus indicates his awareness in the anthropological
interest in the distribution of the methods of arrow release (e.g., Kroeber 1927).
The absolute lack of interest shown by the French anthropologist in the technological processes and much of material culture (except for houses and the penis sheath and
various ornaments indicating clan membership) is as significant as is his emphasis on
traditional culture. With regard to the latter, he obviously shared Kroebers view that
primitive societies in process of disappearance are ... usually full of maladjustments,
miseries, and unresolved problems. These sufferings stimulate students with philanthropic or reformist inclinations or those interested in social pathology, but tend to distract those whose interest lies rather in cultural patterns and their normal values
(Kroeber 1948: 176). Thus, Levi-Strausss photographs are mostly related to the topics of his research (with some second thoughts about some of the interests of a rather
traditional anthropology), and thus primarily illustrate the written information collected
during the fieldwork.
Little is known about Hans Morf, who photographed the Bororo in 1937, except that
he was a Swiss teacher, who in this year took about 700 photographs of different indigenous peoples in Brazil.24 A map found among his papers indicates that his encounter
with the Bororo probably occurred on the upper Rio Vermelho. His nearly 100 Bororo


Hans Morfs photographs are preserved in the Ethnological Museum of the University of Zurich.


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 47 Anonymous, Hans Morf Photographing a Bororo, upper Rio Vermelho, 1937.
Fig. 48 Hans Morf, Bororo Posing with Feather Headdress, upper Rio Vermelho, 1937.
Fig. 49 Hans Morf, Bororo Body Painting, upper Rio Vermelho, 1937.
Vlkerkundemuseum der Universitt Zrich, 429.01.436, 429.03.147, 429.03.163.

photographs were taken with two cameras, the 6 by 6 cm Rolleiflex shown in Fig. 47, and
a 6 by 9 cm camera, with which this photograph was taken. While some of his pictures
may best be described as snapshots of Bororo life, Morf follows the photographic canon
of Indian photography by illustrating, e.g., the use of bows and arrows (without attention to the arrow-release; Fig. 11g). His Bororo portraits show little of the fear to be
photographed (Fig. 50) that had been noted by Baldi, and his subjects willingly posed
for Morf with their ceremonial regalia (Fig. 48). Morf was interested in documenting various practices, such as body painting (Fig. 49) or basket making. But, as a comparison
with the photos of Baldi shows, he often chose a perspective that was more visually
attractive than helping the understanding of what was shown.

Fig. 50 Hans Morf, Smoking Bororo Man, upper

Rio Vermelho, 1937. Vlkerkundemuseum der Universitt Zrich, 429.01.446.

Between Tradition and Modernity

Fig. 51 Hans Morf, Decorating Gourds with Down,

upper Rio Vermelho, 1937. Vlkerkundemuseum
der Universitt Zrich, 429.01.489.


Fig. 52 Anonymous, Christian Bororos, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7479R.
Fig. 53 Anonymous, A Missionary is Made a Bororo Chief, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel,

Morf also photographed men making an arrow shaft and decorating gourds with
down (Fig. 51), details depicted by the Salesians, but not by other visiting photographers
of the period. In addition to general views of the village, Morf (like Petrullo before him)
shows the thatching of a roof with palm leaf. He also went with them to the river, where
he took pictures of various fishing methods (including the use of a fish trap), but also
Bororos swimming or taking a bath. During his visit, Morf recorded the activities of the
Salesians, or more specifically, of Father Albisetti who is, however, shown in only one picture interacting with the Bororo. All the other images depict Albisetti alone in the selva,
as if Morf was considering him not part of the Bororo world.
While the photographs are all of good technical quality and many of them show
interesting details, their subject matter is eclectic and limited by the short duration of
his visit. No rituals are shown, because none were apparently held during Morfs stay.
Morfs interest in traditional life was certainly helped by the more traditional life-style
of the community he was visiting. The lack of any accompanying written documentation is certainly regrettable.
The last group of photographs to be discussed was assembled between 1937 and
1937 by another man from SwitzerlandPietro Grisoni, who during these years had
served as a driver for the Salesian Fathers.25 While the cover of his album is graced by
a drawing entitled Recordao do Brasil, which assimilates the Indian to conventions
of depicting North American Indians, the contents are of substantial interest. The album
includes more than 800 images relating to life in Brazil, with a focus on indigenous peoples (including the Karaj, Xavante, and Bororo). Judging by the quality and style, the
115 identifiable Bororo photographs are of heterogeneous origin. While some of the pictures may have been taken by Grisoni himself, others were apparently made by the
Salesians, including photographs of Father Fuchs (himself of Swiss origin), who had
been killed by Xavantes in 1934, three years before Grisonis arrival in Mato Grosso. But
none of the pictures has so far been identified in Salesian publications.
More than any other group of photographs of the 1930s, including those by Baldi,
the images of the Grisoni album document the work of the Salesians and its effects

The Grisoni album is in the collection of the Museum of Cultures, Basle.


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 54 Anonymous, Young Bororo Wrestlers, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7465B.
Fig. 55 Anonymous, Bororo Hunter with Jaguar, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7330.

on the Bororo. There are several pictures identified as showing Bororos cristianos or
Bororos civilizados (Fig. 52). But there are also pictures showing the reverse
processthe pride of some of the Salesians to learn about Bororo culture and even
to become Bororo themselves,26 while at the same time undermining the basis of traditional Bororo life (Fig. 53).
As in Baldis pictures, the portraits in the Grisoni album illustrate the coexistence and even blending of tradition and change, which are recognized as not being
merely alternative choices, but opportunities for selective adaptations in a changing
social and cultural environment.
Children, which hardly make their appearance in the photographs by Petrullo,
Baldus, Lvi-Strauss, or Morf, are as prominently featured in the Grisoni album as in
Baldis pictures. They are shown both as students of the Salesians and as young
Bororos learning traditional practices, but also as children engaging in swimming or
wrestling (Fig. 54).
While traditional ceremonial life hardly appears in the album, there is an unusual
series of images depicting different stages of the jaguar hunt. Whereas these pictures
were apparently especially staged for the photographer (Fig. 55), other images of
Bororo cultural practices show the whole range from spontaneous snapshots to carefully arranged compositions. Thus, the image showing women carrying palm leaves for
thatching was taken in a real-life context, but the women were obviously asked to stop
and face the photographer, when the picture was taken (Fig. 56).
The similarity of subject matter and time period permits a closer comparison of
related images in the Grisoni album and the Baldi photographs. In the Grisoni picture
showing fire making, e.g., the three young men apparently attempt to produce fire to
light their cigarettes (Fig. 57). While Baldi comments that this was a major purpose for
drilling fire (Notwithstanding your Excellent Civilization you will never get around to
smoking, while the Indian has his fire within 1 minutes), his picture has more the
appearance of a staged and decontextualized demonstration (Fig. 58). The Enciclopedia
Bororo, by the way, only illustrates a fire drill, but not the process of making fire
(Albisetti and Venturelli 1962: 904).

That this attitude was not shared by all Salesian missionaries is indicated by Baldus (1937: 308),
who reports having met veteran missionaries who openly confessed their aversion against the

Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 56 Anonymous, Palm Leaves for Thatching the Roofs, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel,

Similarly, in the two pictures showing girls working at the mortar, the Grisoni picture
is more spontaneous, while Baldis picture has a better composition and is technically
superior (Figs. 59, 60). The images are also interesting for documenting different types
of mortars. The Enciclopedia illustrates neither mortar and pestle, nor the process
(Albisetti and Venturelli 1962: 701, 702).
Both Baldi and Grisoni show girls with domesticated pet parrots, which relates to
a traditional Bororo practice obviously compatible with the adoption of Christian civilization. The same is true of fishing, except that being dressed in Western clothing,
the men are no longer standing in the water to shoot at the fish, as in Petrullos photograph, which is not only much better composed, but underlines the traditional
nature of Bororo society (Petrullo 1932: pl. IV, fig. 2).

Fig. 57 Anonymous, Rubbing Fire, before 1939.

Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7525.
Fig. 58 Mario Baldi, Making Fire, Sangradouro, 1934. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02839.


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 59 Anonymous, Threshing Rice, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7479.
Fig. 60 Mario Baldi, Bororo Girls at the Mortar Pounding Maize, Meruri, 1924. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02843 .

Fig. 61 Anonymous, Harvesting Beans, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7408R.
Fig. 62 Anonymous, Harvesting Manioc, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7485R.

Except for one photograph by Savage-Landor (Fig. 22), the Grisoni album is the
only source showing a range of agricultural activitiesthe harvesting of sugar cane,
manioc, rice, and beansin which the Bororo were engaged as wage labor for the
Salesians (Figs. 6162)a practice discussed but not illustrated by Herbert Baldus
(1937: 283) and one that was basic to the Salesian philosophy of cultural conversion
(Vangelista 2011: 5456).
Like Baldi, the Grisoni album illustrates various Catholic Bororo practices from
mass to processions. Housekeeping School (Fig. 63) provides an interesting view of
an outdoor village school, in which sewing and other handicrafts as well as reading and
writing are taught by the Catholic nuns. The unusual photograph entitled Urbanization in the Forest (Fig. 64) depicts the construction of a drainage system, undertaken by communal labor in order to increase hygiene in a Bororo village. (In 1934,
Baldi had already photographed a drainage system in operation in Meruri.)
Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 63 Anonymous, Housekeeping School, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7420.

Based on a two years acquaintance with the Bororo and his close association with
the Salesians, the album put together by Grisoni thus provides by far the best visual
overview of cultural pluralism in Bororo society and the range of cultural interaction
that could be observed especially in those Bororo villages, where the Salesians had
firmly established their presence.
Although produced in the 1940s, it may be permitted to end this survey of Bororo
photographs of the 1930s by briefly presenting another group of related images in
the photo collection of the Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, produced by Wanda Hanke
(18931958), an amateur anthropologist who held three doctorates (in philosophy,

Fig. 64 Anonymous, Urbanization in the Forest, before 1939. Museum der Kulturen. Basel, (F)IVc7420.


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

Fig. 65 Wanda Hanke, Tanz im Bltterkostm zu Ehren des Verstorbenen [Dance in Costume of Leaves
in Honor of the Deceased], Posto Galdino Pimentel, Rio So Loureno, 1949. Museum fr Vlkerkunde
Wien, F27706.
Fig. 66 Wanda Hanke, Anthropologische Typen [Anthropological Types], Posto Galdino Pimentel, Rio
So Loureno, 1949. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F27721.

medicine, and law). At the age of 41, Hanke went to South America with the intention
to study biographies in the Mato Grosso and traveled for two year in Argentina and
Paraguay. After a brief return to Vienna in 1936/7, she returned to do fieldwork in the
Chaco, after 1940 moving back and forth between Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, and
Brazil, where (except for a year in Bolivia) she conducted research in the Mato Grosso
and Amazonia until 1955. She revisited to Europe for a second time in 1955/6, but
returned to Brazil, where she died in 1958 (Liener 2010).
It seems that most of her work among the Bororo was carried out in 1949 at the
Posto Galdino Pimentel on the Rio So Loureno. Her only publication relating to the
Bororo is a section in a longer essay on Drawings of Primitive Peoples in South
America, which is accompanied by five Bororo photographs (Hanke 1956: 153169).
During the time of her second visit to Europe, Hanke deposited a large number of negatives at the museum in Vienna. 39 of them were catalogued at that time, another 28
(which apparently had been sorted out as being of poor quality or marginal interest)
were recently rediscovered and added to the collection. They include portraits (some
of them identified by name in her publication, some of these and others catalogued
as anthropological types), ceremonial dances, Bororos working at the workshop of
the post, and non-Indian employees of the post (Figs. 65, 66). Despite the fact that
the negatives must have suffered badly prior to their arrival in Vienna and that many
of the photographs are of poor technical quality, some of the material is not without
merit. Four other Bororo portraits taken by Hanke were found by Stefanie Liener
(2010) at the Museu Paranaense in Curitiba; they differ significantly in style from the
material in Vienna and may have been taken at a different time.
In 1956, when Robert Lowie published his sketch of the Bororo in the Handbook of South
American Indians, he used 22 photographs (in addition drawings of artifacts taken from
von den Steinen 1894 and Colbacchini 1925) to illustrate his account. 13 of these were
from those produced by the 1931 University of Pennsylvania Museum Matto Grosso
Between Tradition and Modernity


Fig. 68 Erich Freundt, The feast Bakororo Ika.

[...] In the evening the aroetauarai, the conjuror of
souls, plays the flute, initiating the rites, wearing
on his breast a bokkodori, an ornament made of
two large claws of the giant armadillo, Toriparu, 1941 (Freundt 1947: 12).27
Fig. 67 Mario Baldi, Young Bororo playing lateral
trumpet, Jarudori, 1934/5. Museum fr Vlkerkunde Wien, F30896_02903.

expedition, the other nine had been taken in 1935 by Claude Lvi-Strauss. To Lowie,
who does not discuss culture change, these images appeared to be the best representation of traditional Bororo culture available at the time. They show villages and houses, shooting with bow and arrows, the Mariddo, the Bororo da Campanha jaguar
dancer, and individual and group portraits, ranging from an anthropological profile
view to elaborately decorated faces. Indications of the embeddedness of the Bororo in
twentieth-century Brazilian society are limited to a few items of clothing. Lowie cites
Baldus (1937) on population figures and the antiquity of Bororo agriculture, but none
of his images are used. None of the other photographs of the 1930s were known to
Lowie, and none of the earlier illustrations of Bororo life are shown.
Our survey has introduced a corpus of more than 500 photographs relating to the
Bororo in the 1930s, mostly from European repositories and excluding the unpublished material produced by the Salesian Fathers and the Brazilian administration. Of
this body, less than 100 have been published, one third of these exclusively in popular media. Even their use by scholars has generally not been as sources of ethnographic or historical information, but merely as illustrations of texts. The major reason for
this state of affairs is not hard to guess and lies in the limited interest of many anthropologists in material aspects of culture, an area in which images usually supply data
far superior to verbal descriptions. While it is true that images are in need of additional verbal information to place then in space, time, and specific contexts, information
about material forms and their use is far better encoded in pictures than in words. At
the same time, images themselves supply a useful context for the appreciation of
decontextualized museum specimens, which reflect an even stronger bias toward traditional forms than the written sources.
Today, nobody would be naive enough to mistake photographs (or films) for reality, but they are nevertheless a very powerful form of reflection about reality. Looking
separately at the work of the different photographers of the 1930s presented above,
one might come to the conclusion that they are representing different realities. With
the exception of Herbert Baldus, the perspective of the anthropologists (whose

Little is known about Professor Erich Freund, except that in 1941 he visited Tori-paru, perhaps
on the advice of Herbert Baldus, and donated a small Bororo collection to the Museu de Museu
de Arqueologia e Etnologia in So Paulo (Gruponi 1991).


Christian Feest and Viviane Luiza da Silva

absence in the pictures also promotes the illusion of their absence from the world they
were observing, while missionaries, adventurers, and journalists always wanted to
have their presence recorded) was clearly on traditional life, sometimes to the clinical
exclusion of the larger social and political circumstances in which the societies they
study existcircumstances, which have significantly contributed to shaping these
societies, including the adaptations of tradition necessary for their survival.
In the case of the Bororo of the 1930s, we are fortunate in having Herbert Balduss
however sketchy account of the processes of culture change, which can be read as a
preliminary text to accompany the pictures. Baldus describes at least two concurrent
phenomena: a cultural pluralism between communities derived from the different
positions taken by local leaders toward the Neo-Brazilians and their cultural offerings;
and the coexistence of traditional and modern practices and life-styles, especially in
the missions. In looking at the wavering stance of one individual, Professor Tiago,
caught in the conflict between tradition and modernity, Baldus not only points out the
specific circumstances leading to Tiagos decision to return to a traditional way of life,
but implicitly also shows that the breakdown of traditional forms of social control
(and the lack of its full substitution by the order imposed by the missionaries and the
national society) had increased the importance of individual decisions about which
way to go and thus had paved the way for a cultural pluralism, which one could not
guess from the writings of, e.g., Claude Lvi-Strauss, who speaks of the Bororo as
is if there had been no pluralism.
Questions relating to the relationship between the missionaries and the Bororo
were not a major subject of interest to anthropologists in the 1930s and were therefore hardly ever shown or discussed in the published record. At the time, it was certainly also the result of the widespread practice by anthropologists to categorize missionaries as enemies and competitors in dealing with indigenous peoples and traditional culture (Stipe 1980). These issues have today become of increasing relevance
in investigations, which recognize indigenous peoples not merely as victims of a
process in which foreign values and standards were imposed upon them by the national society and its agents, but also as active decision-makers in the acceptance and
rejection of foreign cultural practices.
It is obvious that every collection of data, whether they are verbal, visual, or material, is guided by the formation of those who decide which data within a universe of
possible observations are relevant. Selections guided by explicit theories are thus relevant only to the questions the collector is interested in. Anthropologists have traditionally focused on the typical, rather than on the individual, often even neglecting to
recognize the role of individuals in culture as a process. In this connection it is
remarkable that Ehrenreich in his study of physical type provides the earliest examples of identifying at least some of his sitters by name. Lvi-Strauss does not even
identify his chief informant, whereas Baldus who recognizes the importance of the
individual gives the name of several of the persons shown in his photographs.
Data collecting in deference to methodological traditions of a discipline has led
many amateurs (but also scholars), e.g., to collect ultimately useless anthropological frontal and profile views of persons for no other reason than to follow the canon.
In this case, the individual is only recognized as one expression of the range of variation in a type as the ultimate goal of analysis. The standardized mode of physical
anthropological photographs, however, is only a specialized version of the much older
tradition of visual concepts, which had been developed to enable the viewer to structure the universe of possible observations. These generic representations, which are
informed by conventionalized and shared ideas, are generally much easier to read and
understand than random snapshots, which do not make use this visual vocabulary and
grammar. Both types of representations are amenable to ethnographic analysis withBetween Tradition and Modernity


in the documentary context associated with them. While this context is usually better
documented in photographs taken by scholars, the more stringent selection of images
according to the respective theoretical issues limits their usefulness for answering new
questions. Thus, Bororo Christianity or wage labor, which have more recently become
subjects of anthropological concern, are little or not at all represented in the anthropologists photographs of the 1930s, but make their appearance in the work of other
The data assembled in this paper will hopefully convey to the reader the richness
of the visual material on the historical ethnography of the Bororo, which so far has
hardly been used, because it is widely scattered and mostly unpublished. Mario
Baldis photographs are of special importance in this regard, because they combine
professional technical quality with reasonably good documentation. He was able to
profit at least in part from the guidance supplied by his Salesian hosts, but clearly did
not share some of their views of the world. The greatest advantage of the visual data
on the Bororo in the 1930s, however, is their heterogeneity and multiperspectivity.
Together they contribute to a more realistic perception of the Bororo world of this
period than any single group of photographs.

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