Nature has brought together a rare combination of ecosystems in the Parnaíba River Delta, making it a nursery of life that has to be preserved and preserved for future generations. Because it is a conservation unit with a vocation for ecotourism, which aims to preserve and conserve the environment through actions that involve and benefit host communities by preserving their culture, the development of handicrafts can become a reality alternative source of income and a powerful vehicle for environmental education.

Photo Christian Knepper

Environmental degradation - illegal deforestation, garbage, fishing and predatory hunting, acculturation of Delta communities, forgetfulness of knowledge, abandonment of embroidery due to lack of incentives and commercialization, a reality that can be reversed with the rescue of traditional knowledge and the rational use of natural resources. This means the return of man to his origins and the generation of a correct socio-environmental consciousness.

Growing external demand for environmentally sound products has grown by big steps. The profile of this new consumer market is concerned with the destiny of our planet and with the poor communities that can have an improvement in the quality of life. This still unexplored market niche in the city of Parnaíba, as in every delta region, could be one of the factors that generate the greatest impetus for the development of sustainable handicrafts in our region.

“The preservation of our culture depends only on us. It is knowing and valuing our rich craftsmanship that we will keep alive our roots and traditions.”

The fine craftsmanship of the delta region associated with fashion can become a powerful marketing tool for the cultural and commercial potential of the Parnaíba River Delta, providing an improvement in the quality of life of surrounding communities, preserving the local culture and creating a posture respect for our roots and the environment.

The Delta's unique fauna and flora also inspire local crafts. Mangrove, seahorse, manatee, turtle, crab and guará are easily portrayed in various pieces of decoration (paintings, silk-screen, clay, sculptures) and clothing produced by the art of the communities.

Artesanata Maranhense

The Maranhão and Piauí handicrafts are rich and diversified in shape and material, carved pieces of wood, handbags and nets of carnauba and buriti fiber, paparaúba toys, hand-painted tiles, bobbin laces made by fishermen's women, finissimo and beautiful hand embroidery, ceramic vases and porcelain also hand painted. There are also works in straw and fibers of taboa, carnauba, tucum, agave, milkweed, ox, and fine, rope, tow, wood, horn, head, weaving, cross stitch, wood, leather, weaving manual. The pottery in the form of bowls, platters, pots and snack holders add a special touch to the dishes.

The use of vegetable fibers such as sisal or agave in the manufacture of clothing demonstrates the versatility of this sturdy and hard fiber that turns into beautiful pieces in the hands of our artisans. The lace of bobbins, hand embroidery, using traditional techniques, were made by the fairy hands of our lacemakers, embroiderers and crocheters of the delta region.The lace of bobbins and the very fine embroidery by hand allude to the rich cycle of the carnauba.

There is the commerce of arms and utensils of the Indians cinnamon, guajajaras, buzzards and cricatis. The cabocla tradition contributes to the miniatures of the boat and the miniatures of the bumba-meu-boi, with its cowboys, cazumbás, masters, Indians and players.

All of this can be found in small shops located in various parts of the Delta in the cities Ilha Grande (PI), Tutóia (MA), Araioses (MA) and mainly in Parnaíba (PI) in the Cultural Complex of Porto da Barcas.

The craftsmanship of Maranhão is rich and diversified in form and material. They are carved pieces of wood, handbags and buriti fiber nets made in Barreirinhas, paparaúba toys, hand painted tiles, bobbin laces made by the fishermen's women in Praia da Raposa, embroidery, pottery and porcelain pottery also hand painted . There is the commerce of arms and utensils of the Indians cinnamon, guajajaras, buzzards and cricatis. The cabocla tradition contributes to the miniatures of the boat and the miniatures of the bumba-meu-boi, with its cowboys, cazumbás, masters, Indians and players.

All this can be found in small shops in the center of São Luís, but the most suitable place is Ceprama - Maranhense Handicraft Product Marketing Center –a huge, hundred-year-old shed of the Hemp Knitting Company. There are also works in straw and fibers of taboa, carnauba, tucum, agave, milk and fine vine, rope, tow, wood, horn, head, weaving, cross stitch, embroidery, wood, leather, weaving and lace. The pottery in the form of bowls, platters, pots and snack holders add a special touch to the dishes.



The cuisine is a reflection of the ethnic multiplicity of the people of Maranhão. With the Portuguese colonization, the ingredients that were already used by the native population were mixed those brought by the Europeans and African blacks giving rise to delicious dishes.

From the gastronomic creativity of Maranhão, dishes like cuxá rice, arroz de jaçanã, rice of piqui, rice of piqui, rice of cabbage, sweet rice, baião of two, crab cakes, peixadas, caldeiradas of shrimp, pies of sururu, shrimp and crab.

Fruits such as bacuri, apricot, buriti, pineapple, guava, cajá, cupuaçu and genipapo have given rise to varied sweets and delicious liqueurs.


Gastronomy Piauiense

Some Recipes:

Rice by Maria Izabel
maria-izabel1 kg of rice
1 kg of minced meat
3 cloves garlic
1 onion, oil, and black pepper

Method of preparation:
Wash the chopped dried meat and brown it in hot oil.
Then add the onion and garlic.
Saute well.
Add the rice mixing well with the seasoning and the meat. Add the hot water and the chopped parsley in the middle.
Cover the pan until the rice is loose.


Maxixada recipe
maxixada: 1kg of dried meat
½ kg of jerimum
½ kg of patato
½ kg of maxixe
salt to taste
scent-green and cream butter.

Method of preparation:
Cut the meat into small squares.
Sauté on the butter, the onion, the meat, the tomato, the chili and the green smell.
Let it cook a little and add the jerimum, the potato and the gherkin, cut into small pieces.
Put enough water to cook.


In Piauí:

Legends of Piaui:

Cuia's head

Sculpture Head of Cuia in Teresina, Piauí. Author of the sculpture: Nonato Oliveira (1996)

A boy from the so-called Poty Village (now only Poty Velho neighborhood) - that same town that had been born before Teresina at least dreamed of being a city folk. Once upon a time this boy lived with his widowed mother and poor of not having his hide to die upon. This before Teresina even thought of Counselor Saraiva that in those days was still a boy practicing tricks and mischief in old Bahia with h. When certain and certain day, the said boy went to fish in the waters of the Poti. Already with his beautiful and good pari prepared. Let it be that unlucky chance that day. No matter how hard he tried, he could not even get one for a little piaba. He returned to the house furious with anger and hunger - two things that never mixed together that give good result, as the second stirring the first to any unpleasant act. She arrived home and was soon putting up a tremendous fight with the old woman his mother. It turned out that this one had kept for him a plate of beans with only of support a corridor of ox. Moreover, the said clean corridor as God wants the souls. I did not have meat a loaf. Then he started to beat up the poor old woman, slamming the corridor on his head. Then he topped the aisle on the plate, and instead of marrow, the blood flowed thicker and more alive. Then the old woman, dizzy and staggering with such disheartened pain, left the yard, knelt in the hot sand and, with her hands clasped, proceeded to curse her son. And the folds picked up, even as it was noon, at a time when the angels are singing psalms and saying amen on the bright terrace of Heaven's terreiro. For she had said that he was to become a monk; who would be forever and ever, forever and ever chastening from the earth to the waters. Suddenly, in a flash, the boy went mad. Lost the ball completely. Stayed over was really crazy swept. Then he ran aimlessly and shouted that he was an unfortunate and cursed. And he threw himself into the waters of Parnaíba. He drowned. And the interesting thing was that no one could find his corpse. At the same time, the old woman had also gone to the other side of life, that those strokes without fear of the corridor were not for less. He gave a sapituca, stretched the shins, looked at the big toe and made the trip-without-fried. Died. It spends the six months of floods in the waters, killing drowned people, both turning vapors, ferries, canoes and other vessels, as anyway. It is believed that for this season, people arriving at the edge of the river, at dead hours of the night and three times shouting: ô, ô, ô, ... Cabe-de-Cuia !!! it appears. But he says he comes with a thousand marmots of hauntings. In fact, he comes calm, thinking that he is his mother who calls him. When she notices that she is not the old woman, she practices the most horrifying fantasies. He comes only because he knows that the soul of the old woman also lives in the world and is saved only when he ceases to suffer. Even so, she wants to see her poor mother suffer because of you. It is that mother, for a better definition, one can only say that she is a mother. The other seismeses he passes ashore, also practicing fantasies. That's the way it is. And there is more: the Head of Cuia will only stop to suffer in the world when it devours seven virgin women of name Maria. And says that up to the present it has not been able to consume one at all.


Lenda em canto

Seven marias
Need to swallow
There are seven virgins
For charm to break.

When the river
Full moon descends
Cuia's head
Always appears
Rema for margin
Oh! Old fisherman
That on the bend of the river
The monster will point.

Tremendous punishment
What God gave you
For hitting on mommy
Crispim loved it.

Be afraid, oh! Maria
What are you washing?
The Cuia's Head
It can swallow you.


Cuia's Head

He's a monster. Usually appears on the surface of the water, on full moon nights. An enormous cojuba (cuia) appears and disappears, half of the year in the river Parnaíba and the other half in the river Poty (Teresina is between these two rivers). They also say that he usually takes part in some crazy person that wanders through the streets of Teresina. But the story is this:

A fisherman, named Crispim, lived with his old widowed mother in the old Poty Village. One day he came home very angry because he had not caught anything. The mother gave him to eat a bonbon. He enraged, beating his mother and breaking his head with a "corridor" of the pirão ossada. Falling in the terreiro, before dying, the mother throws a curse: "You will be transformed into a monster, you ungrateful son!" And Crispim disappears in the muddy waters of the river. The people still sing today:

And when the river
In full fall
The Head-of-Cuja
Always appears.


Legend of Macyrajara


Macyrajara was a beautiful young woman with almond-shaped eyes and long hair. His father was the Botocc chief of the Tremembe tribe, who inhabited the lands on the right bank of the Igaraçu to the sea.

Macyrajara met Ubitan, a young warrior belonging to an enemy tribe of his, who inhabited the coastal plain. The two fell in love and began to sneak around.

Macyrajara's father came to the knowledge and, disagreeing with that love, he had her arrested by seven warriors.

Ubitã, crazy with longing, sought in prayer to counsel with the god Tupã. And at night, when he slept, Tupan told him that Macyrajara was in prison and that he was not going to look for her because he could die.

The fearless warrior, driven by passion, did not listen to Tupã's advice. And at nightfall he went out looking for his great love. When he reached the goose, he was struck by an enemy arrow in his chest, and died immediately.

Macyrajara, upon learning of the tragedy, ran and disappeared into the darkness of the night. Three days after wandering through the woods, he stopped at a water's eye. At that moment, it began to rain, she then, full of pain and sorrow, began to cry. There her tears and the rain joined those waters that ran.

Tupan, pitying her, turned her tears into the river that separated the two tribes.

Today, that river is called Portinho and separates the lands of Luís Correia das de Parnaíba.


The Vareiro de Parnaíba

Vareiro or "porco d'água", was a typical figure of the river Parnaíba, that for many years stood out in our Municipality, before the steam navigation itself had to generate the necessary driving force to trigger the first boats, from Oporto Salgado, up to beyond, of the middle course, of the river Parnaíba, with the use of the stick of 4 fathoms, the cable of spy of manilha.

When, on days off, the typical retailer liked to wear thick-fitting or thick-scratched trousers in a blue and white striped shirt, displaying his sun-muscled talisman-like muscles in his arms, a short-brimmed white hat. top and heavy clogs, with face of sole or tanned goat skin and the belt of thick sole, with brass buckle, was indispensable. She did not forget the sailor knife, sheathed, and whose cape stood a five-pointed star to fight "Mandinga." His weapon was a "jucá cock," which was always on the boat and only used when threatened.

They made the joy of the harbor and the Barqueiros street, in the Forty.

With the growth of Porto Salgado, steam navigation, replacing small boats and canoes, and the construction of Simplício Dias bridge, little by little, this typical figure disappeared from our Municipality, existing only in certain stretches of the river where there is lack of transport.


Legend "You can not"

Woman who shows up after midnight. He usually introduces himself to people to ask for a cigarette, and when he gets it, he grows ... growing ... until he reaches the height of the pole, lights his cigarette, and, there he smokes. If someone denies you the cigarette, she takes out her single breast to try to breastfeed the person, making a tremendous fight until the person is mistreated. Soon after, always victorious, he climbs the pole and disappears from there.



She was the most beautiful young woman of the tribe of the Acaraos. Since her mother did not decide to give her in marriage to any young woman of the place, she maintained a forbidden love, hidden from all. Not knowing how to hide the child from this love, he put it in a pot and released the poor child in the waters of the river Paraim. The waters of the river became an immense lake. Today it is called the lagoon of Parnaguá, located in the south of Piauí.

The water-mother collected and raised the child and cast a curse on the unhappy mother. They say that even today the mother-of-a-mother appears on the surface of the pond. No one has so far been able to disenchant him and he continues to appear, old, with soft beard in the light of the moon, or gilded at dusk. They also say that he appears as a child in the early hours of the morning. In the afternoon he becomes an adult and at night he is an old man with white beards.

There is also a variant of this legend with the name of Redbeard.



She was the daughter of the chief of the Amanajós tribe. She loved Metara, an Indian of the Pimenteiras tribe, terrible enemies of the Amanajós. Zabelê and Metara met secretly. But Mandaú distrusted those wanderings. It was that he was hurt by Zabelê, because he was deprecated by an enemy and could never get his love back. Mandaú discovered the meeting place of the two. Once he decided to take some witnesses to unmask Zabelê. The two lovers were taken aback, a widespread feud arose. After so much struggle, Zabelê, Metara and Mandaú die.

The fact gave rise to another war that lasted seven suns and seven moons. But Tupan took pity on the two lovers and decided to turn them into two birds that always walk together and sing sadly at dusk. Mandaú was punished and transformed into a maracajá cat, that is always pursued by the hunters (because of the value of his skin). Zabelê still lives singing today the sadness of his unhappy love.


The Golden Tooth Nut

It's a big old nut. Her boobs drag on the floor, so big. Usually runs past the dark streets of Teresina, groaning and groaning. From the muzzle comes a huge golden tooth. In a single night he is capable of terrorizing the inhabitants of Barrocão, Macaúba, Piçarra, Mafuá, Cajueiros, For the time being etc. No one could see right through the immense sow, a haunting, a "painting." They say that it was a girl there from Catherine's bands, who, in a moment of fury, disrespected her mother, even giving her a tremendous bite. She was punished. It has become the horrible sow, which will only lose its charm when someone has the courage to pluck its huge gold prey. But no one has succeeded to this day.


In Maranhão:


Accent of Zabumba

What is and what does Bumba-My-Ox?

This party tells the story of Mother Catirina, who, being pregnant and desiring to eat an ox tongue, persuades her husband, Father Francisco, to kill the Mimoso steer, the most beloved of the Master. The crime is discovered, the couple is arrested and forgiven after the animal, through magical resources, resurrects. Then everything turns into a party. The animation goes through the nights, and the arrival of the dis is hailed to the sound of much music and praises to St. Anthony, St. John, St. Peter and St. Marcal. To the toads of countless groups of Bumba-meu-boi is added the batuque of other jokes, which, in the middle of the night, appear in the "arraiais" built in streets, clubs and squares. The Tambor de Crioula, Cacuriá, Coco and Péla Porco are also not to be missed attractions of the rich Maranhão folklore.


Accent of the Island

Ox of Matraca

Also known as Boi da Ilha. Its instrumental base is the rattles (pieces of wood) and drums of great diameter known by tambourines. Made of wood and leather, the tambourines are tuned to fire, which makes the groups light bonfires wherever they appear. The drum-ounce, a cousin's cousin, mimics the sound of an ounce. Of note in this accent are the oxen of Maioba, Iguaíba, Maracanã, Madre de Deus, among others.


Pindaré accent

Although also use the burac, in almost everything they differ from the Bois of the Island, starting with the slower pace. Their tambourines are smaller, and the costumes have their own characteristics. The most prominent are the caboclos de pena, jokers who wear hats forming a large bow adorned with colored ribbons. Highlight for the Bois de Viana, of Saint John the Baptist and Pindaré, the latter originating from the city that gives it its name.


Ox of Zabumba

The denomination comes from the drums that use in the marking of its accent, in fact bombs, known as zabumbas. They are used of tambourines, or repinicadores, that are pandeiros much smaller than those used in the accent of the rattle. It is considered for some researchers like the most original ox of the State, and would have served as base for the development of the other accents. Some prominent groups in the zabumba accent are the Boi de Lauro, Boi de Leonardo, Antero and Newton Canuto.


Orchestra steer

Accent marked by wind instruments and strings, such as saxophones, clarinets, flutes and banjos, as well as bass drum, drum-ounce and maracas. The rhythm is contagious, during the presentation, the players perform choreographies easily assimilated by the public. Among all the styles existing in the state, it is the orchestra that has grown. They are famous in this accent oxes of Axixá, Morros and Rosário, all originating from cities of the interior, but that during the festivities of June, they are present in São Luís.



Manifestation of typically Maranhão African origin. It can be seen at any time of the year, and the season of the June festival is one of the best times to enjoy it. It is a wheel dance where only women dance, forming a circle, and men play drums made of tree trunks and leather. In the center of the wheel are varnishes (dancers), which are periodically replaced by the Punga or Umbigada ritual. The act, accompanied by a special drum, is characterized by a physical shock between the dancers, after which one goes to the center of the wheel and the other one withdraws to the cord. Viewers can participate by clapping, singing, and dancing. The joy, the relaxation and the sensuality are the main marks of this folklore existing in several regions of the State.


Maranhenses Dances

Dance of the Lelê or Pela Porco

It is a hall dance of European origin, probably French, with Iberian traits present in the municipalities of Rosário and Axixá since the 19th century. Although it is a profane dance, it can be presented in praise of a saint.

The lelê dance does not have a fixed to be presented. It is common that the players present themselves in May, at the feast of the Divine; in June, at the feast of Saint Anthony; in August, during the feast of St. Benedict; in December, at the feast of Our Lady of the Conception; in January, on the day of Kings or in any other time as payment of promise.

With the accompaniment of instruments such as guitar, cavaquinho, tambourine, castanets, flute and cardigan, the players, in pairs, are arranged in lines of men and women, led by a principal, person responsible for the coordination of the game.


Crioula's Drum

The Creole drum is a dance of African origin practiced by Negro descendants in Maranhão in praise of St. Benedict, one of the most popular saints among blacks. It is a joyful dance, marked by a lot of movement and a lot of fun.

The reasons that lead the groups to dance the criollo drum are varied: payment of a promise to Saint Benedict, birthday party, arrival or farewell of a relative or friend, celebration for the victory of a football team, childbirth, slaughter of bumba-meu-boi, old black party or simple meeting of friends.

There is no specific day in the dance calendar, which can be presented, preferably, outdoors, any time of the year. Currently, the creole drum is danced more frequently in the carnival period and during the June celebrations.


Dance of São Gonçalo

The São Gonçalo dance is a popular religious dance of Portuguese origin, danced in praise of the Portuguese saint São Gonçalo do Amarante, who lived in the 13th century.

The popular tradition considers São Gonçalo as a matchmaker and saint saint, who played viola and made women dance with them, having nails in his shoe that hurt his feet.

Generally, dancing is motivated by a promise or vow of someone's devotion. In front of the altar, with the image of the saint holding in his hand his viola, two cords of six persons are formed.

Caroço of Dance

Of indigenous origin, the core dance is concentrated in the region of the Parnaíba delta, mainly in the municipality of Tutóia. It is performed by players of any gender or age.

The improvised toadas are taken by the singers with the accompaniment of the players who respond with the chorus, accompanied by instruments like boxes, cuícas and gourds.


Cacuriá de Dona Tetê


The Cacuriá is also, a dance of wheel animated by percussion instruments. It originates in the feast of the divine holy spirit, when after the overthrow of the mast, the clerks gather to play. The instruments are boxes that accompany the dance, animated by a singer or singer, whose improvisational verses are answered by a choir formed by the players.

In São Luís, cacuriá is a dance typical of the June celebrations.


Coconut Dance

The coconut dance has its origin in the singing of the workers in the babaçuais of the interior of the maranhão. It is a dance of sung roda, with accompaniment of tambourines, ganzás, cuícas and of the palms of those that form the roda.

Choreography is not complex. As props, the components of the dance carry small coffins and hatchets, imitating the instruments of work in the babaçuais.

In addition to these dances, one can witness, in the camp of the city, in the period of the June festivities, other dances such as the gang, which caricaturally portrays a scene from the life of the country of Northeastern Brazil; the tape dance and Portuguese dance.


Festa do Divino Espírito Santo

Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit

The Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit, which recalls the Holy Spirit over the apostles, is one of the most expressive celebrations of the cultural and religious calendar of Maranhão, especially in the São Luís - Alcântara. 

Originated in Portugal with the construction of the church of the Holy Spirit in Alenquer, XIII century, by order of Queen D. Isabel, the party arrived in Brazil in the sixteenth century with the colonizers.

In São Luis, it is highly valued in the terreiros and mine, while in Alcântara it is characterized as a typical Catholic feast, many of its ceremonies being held in the local church.

It is held in the month of May, on Pentecost Sunday, but since Saturday of hallelujah the feast of the Divine. 2 The bishops begin to prepare for the great day in which the emperor welcomes his guests with a lunch and a large table of local sweets.

In Alcantara, emperor and empress, butler and regent steward alternate every year. The partygoers are chosen one year in advance, making the Divino Espírito Santo party the biggest party in Maranhão, since its cycle lasts one year.


Juninho celebrations

The bumba my ox is the best known joke of the June festivities in Maranhão. It is a self that, combining three forms of artistic expression (theater, dance, music), tells the story of the black Catherine who, pregnant, desired to eat the tongue of her master's favorite ox, inducing her husband, Father Francisco, to kill the ox for the satisfaction of his desire.

The researcher Carlos Lima classifies the groups in 3 accents: zabumba, ratchet and orchestra, besides two subgroups identified with the region to which they belong, in the case, Baixada and Cururupu.

The zabumba groups are characterized by the cadenced rhythm marked by great tantanes known as zabumbas. In groups of this accent, the most characteristic character is the split. They are men who close the play line and who call the attention by their big and heavy hats of colored ribbons and stamped.

The orchestra oxen have their dance wrapped by instruments like banjo, clarinet, piston and bass drum and a strong popular appeal, especially in the Arraial June, by the variety of colors of their dress and by the sonority of their instruments.

The ratchet groups stand out because they attract a large number of players in their presentations. In this accent there are predominant rattles and tambourines among their instruments, played by a large number of players with a specificity: the oxen of rattle allow a greater participation of the public since anyone with a pair of rattles can help the group in their presentations.



Cultural manifestations always had an important role in the life of the people of Maranhão, which can be proven in the carnival period, when there are great variety of forms of foliage as traditional blocks, bands of revelers, Indian tribes, cottage of the garden, play of bear, samba schools, organized blocks, afros blocks and bands.


Mine Drum

Term by which is known the religion that the descendants of black Africans of jeje and Nagô origin brought to Maranhão. It is a manifestation of popular religiosity specifically Maranhão that takes place in houses of worship known as terreiros. It is a religion of possession, where the initiates receive spiritual entities worshiped by the father of santo in rituals known as drum.