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Kithi and Caetano Bezerra

Embroidery, your heritage

At the beginning of the last century, D. Henriqueta Catharino, with the support of the Catholic Church, already taught some crafts to women. For her, female freedom was achieved by earning a living.


Embroidery was one of the forms of ideal gain at the time, as it could be done without leaving home.

From financial independence “you create a different relationship with the other. It is not a relationship of dependency, nor of humility, nor of which I am obliged to put up with. It is a dialogue relationship. And that is where love can flourish, ”says Ana Maria Azevedo, current Manager of the Instituto Feminino da Bahia and a fan of Dona Henriqueta.

Today, almost 100 years later, the professor of UFRB's anthropology chair, Thaís Brito, finds inspiration in teaching her students and embroidery, to teach concepts of heritage.


Intention exposed in the action plan presented to UFRB as part of the attributes required to occupy the position at the institution.


Like D. Henriqueta, Thaís established an initial partnership with the Catholic Church to get closer to the community and start the activity.

The Bordadeira da Ilha project is the result of public policies aimed at the triad that the entire university must follow: teaching, research and extension.

In the extension action, scientific and spontaneous knowledge are exchanged in a more evident way, there is no product to be charged, such as evidence for example.

The teacher and the students selected for the extension project go to the field.

The project works as a guiding thread to unfold according to the rhythm of the exchanges and the desire of the participants. It is a joint construction within a teaching-learning direction where everyone collaborates with their knowledge.

The result of Prof. Thaís is the construction of the knowledge realized from the act of embroidering, the constant dialogue around the points to be learned and the life stories narrated when sewing.

The project started in 2015 and took on an unexpected proportion. It was supposed to last only one year, but the students of the regular course of the university, involved in the project as fellows, did not want to end the experience. They would remain independent from the University.

Faced with such desire, the students and embroiderers, to move on, the teacher decided to stay. It was 2017 when this movement happened.

The initial proposal was to work on the concept of heritage with reference to the memory of life stories while learning some embroidery stitches, chosen from a survey of local production. The project had a beginning, middle and end.

With the decision of the students and the teacher, the University continued to support the initiative.


          Henriqueta Catharino

Professor Thaís Brito talks about heritage

Oil palm island

Ilha do Dendê is a neighborhood in Santo Amaro located on the edge of the mangrove, formed by people of African descent whose work revolves around the tide, the main source of livelihood, such as shellfish gatherers and fishermen.

Historically stigmatized as violent by the socio-economic condition of the local population, the neighborhood today faces, in addition to strong prejudice, the same problems as other locations with a similar trajectory of occupation.

The women's source of income is quite varied and, for the vast majority, does not exceed R $ 300.00 per month. Seafood is still the main form of livelihood.


The reality is that of poverty, the essence of warriors. The determination to want better living conditions for themselves and their families is visible. With dignity they go on looking for ways to generate the necessary resources for the maintenance of life.

Knowing the needs of this community, the congregation of the Church of the Rosary thought of promoting courses in various crafts for residents of the neighborhood, with the possibility of transporting the goods to Europe.

Knowing the Dendê Island, Santo Amaro - Ba

The beginning

To enter as a professor at the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB), among other requirements, it is necessary to present a plan contemplating a community-oriented action.

When giving the competition for the chair of Anthropology, Thaís Brito directed the proposal to the area of ​​heritage, since it is the target of his interest and favorable to the historic city where he intended to work.

She thought about investing in several subjects: the houses (heritage of stone and lime), samba, candomblé, capoeira, but nothing really convinced her.

Coming from the city of São Paulo it was difficult to adapt in such a small place and with such strong regional aspects. Everything was different, including the pace of life itself.

He thought about giving up and verbalized this difficulty to the students. It was the eve of Easter.

Knowing that embroidery was the central theme of the professor's doctoral thesis , student Patrícia Lobo spent the holiday embroidering a gift with her own stitches. When delivering the teacher asked: "are you going to give up?"


Patricia Lobo 

Embroidery gifted to teacher

Upon receiving the gift, a mixture of joy and thanksgiving, together with applause and a collective cry from the class, made the seed of the project to be sprouted in Thaís.

She realized in the embroidery the dimension of the desired will and concludes by saying to herself: "Embroidery is women, embroidery does not create a fight and embroidery allows us to think inside".

With the name “Bordando a Cidade” the project was born.


Without knowing exactly how to start, it is also student Patrícia Lobo to solve the beginning of the journey.

Attending the Rosario Church, she informs about the partnership established between the church and the Caritas institution in Germany to carry out courses and create a reference center in Ilha do Dendê.

The partnership with Igreja do Rosário was a stimulus that literally opened the doors of the community. They accredited people and the first workshop had 60 participants, including women and children. Fundamental work to start the project.

The ball of happiness

The first activity, in October 2015, was developed by Tereza Barreto from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), invited by Thaís to hold the “Bola da Felicidade” workshop.

The activity consists of telling the life story while embroidering a ball made of sock.

The dynamic involves breathing exercises, stretching and sharing the experiences of each of the participants.

For Tereza, the workshop is a “digital detox”, removing embroiderers from daily distractions such as cell phones and concerns.

The group talks about the activity called Bola da Felicidade

The dots and colors follow the emotion of the story. Each one was weaving his ball as he wanted.

From this exercise, the memory of themselves and the memory of the space where they live are brought to the knowledge of all members of the course.

The group had never embroidered before. Everything was new, from the form adopted by Tereza as a stimulus to the creation of embroidery, the points to be used until the memory of you in the territory where you grew up as content to be thought about.

Some people finished the ball on the same day. Others took a little longer, but all reconstructed the memories of childhood, adolescence and adult life. The positive and negative aspects of life.

The continuity

In order to carry out the project, the University provided three permanent scholarships for students to work with the project's demand. Essential to the development of activities.

This type of scholarship consists of enabling the continuity of low-income students at the institution, and at the same time it is an incentive for their participation in research and extension activities.

Profº. Paulo Miguez, Bruna Vilas Boas, Profª. Thais Brito and Larissa Caroline talk about permanence grants.

Thus, students Patrícia Lobo, the only embroiderer, Bruna Vilas Boas, enthusiastic about the profession of fashion designer and Larissa Rocha, whose desire for expression is more linked to photography, social networks and marketing, entered the project “Bordando a Cidade”.

With different life histories, the three needed the scholarship in order to continue attending the university course.

Patrícia Lobo, from a family of embroiderers from Santo Amaro, is responsible for teaching embroidery to all project participants.

Step by step to define the embroidery and pass it on to all members of the group

Decisions are collective. The embroidery started at the weekly meetings is supported by WhatsApp's learning and group decisions.

In addition to embroidering, Bruna is responsible for researching, cutting and sewing the pieces and Larissa for the photographs and Facebook page.

Despite the defined tasks, all do everything and all knowledge is shared among all, including the embroiderers.

And Thaís? She coordinates, researches, thinks about the feasibility and maintenance of the project and demands, like no one else, the perfection of embroidery. The reverse has to be exactly the same as the right.

“All participants in the group were new to needle and thread. It was necessary to learn the technique perfectly, ”says Thaís.

In order to guarantee and achieve mastery in embroidery, some activities were developed as a way of learning: the research of local embroiderers' points, through direct contact and books found in the Museum of the Gathering of the Humble, a boarding school for women in ancient times, where the embroidery practice was present.

At the end of eight months, of the initial 60 people (between women and children), 15 remained.

During the learning process, people spontaneously left the project for various reasons.

In the participants' perception, evasion may have happened due to 4 different movements: the project was not created with the intention of professionalization, this movement was constituted spontaneously; the diversity of craft courses offered by the church allows the participant to choose by identification with the technique; For the need to generate the family's livelihood with other activities and finally, simply because I don't like to embroider.

The choice of logo

After 8 months together Thaís noticed the group formed and all wanting to generate income from embroidery.

Starting from the life stories told during the learning process and dialogues, the teacher observed the constancy and the importance of trees in the discretion of the biome. It was a benchmark. A strong presence.

“There was a guava tree. We always dated in the guava tree. There on that mountain it was full of oil palm. Now there is little, but it was beautiful when they bore fruit. When we went out for seafood we cleaned the seafood under that tree that was there ”, embroiderers' phrases.

She asked the students to embroider the trees of life stories on napkins. After the task was done, he asked if they felt represented by the tree element. They answered yes. He asked if they all felt like a group. They answered yes.

She comes in with the thought of creating the logo.

“We spent an afternoon discussing what the group's name would be and what our logo would be. And they did not want to put Bordeiras from Ilha do Dendê, because it would be stigmatized there. They chose Embroiderers of the Island. But, they wanted the oil palm. So Lili got up and said: "we could draw this mountain".


Logo outline

With the drawing in his hands, Thaís took to the fellow designer and professor at UFRB, Walter Mariano, to develop the logo.

She told the story of the group, showed the drawing, and he said: "I'm remembering my grandmother". He asked for 15 days to work on the idea, but delivered the result in 15 hours.

“He took the drawing, exchanged the oil palm trunk for the needle and did it. When I saw it, I started to cry. We were a group there ”, says Thaís.

The logo was the turning point. There a commitment was confirmed.

With the group defined, heritage workshops began, guided by Amauri Castro, a museologist belonging to the technical staff of UFRB. It was March 2016.

At the meetings, he encouraged the group to think of themselves, the place of residence and the local knowledge as an important legacy and constituent of the life of each one of them.

The memory of oneself and the socio-geographic space worked on at the beginning, with Bola da Felicidade, was continued and the concept of heritage is gradually being established.

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The move to university

The project was carried out on Ilha do Dendê in the center maintained by the parish.

In the space there is a school for children during the week. On Saturdays it is used to offer handicraft courses to the community, among them the project proposed by the university.

In March 2017 it was necessary to change the meetings to Thursday mornings.

It is impossible to remain in the community due to the clash of schedules with school activities.

As there is no budget at the University to support an extension within the neighborhood, the way to maintain the group was to bring the meetings to the physical space of the institution.

The embroiderers, at first, did not agree. They thought it was no place for them.

Using the argument of being a public space maintained by taxes paid by all, the teacher managed to convince the class.

“The first time they entered the University it was very exciting. Because the place was a city hall school and they had never studied at that school, ”says Thaís.

Only after this change did embroiderers perceive themselves as part of a university process, generating self-esteem for the group.

Embroiderers talk about the first time they stepped into the university

Time to think about starting to profit

A year had passed. There was still no idea of ​​setting up the association. But it was necessary to start having a financial return with embroidery.

The purchase of materials necessary for learning embroidery was, until then, maintained with the teacher's personal resources.

Equipped with the technique, still in progress, but already with quality to create something salable, the São João was close. The second party most loved by the embroiderers. The first, without distinction of importance, are the Purification Party and Carnival.

“Now we are going to make money. We are going to do something about what we like best and we are going to sell, ”said Thaís.

With material donated by the teacher, seven meters of jeans and threads, the first embroidered cloths were made for sale.

Bruna and Patrícia sewed the cloths. The chosen piece was the American game.

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The embroiderers studied the motifs and for the first time made money from embroidery.

To form the final value of the merchandise, they considered the price of the jeans, plus the value of the line, and multiplied it by three, as if the other half were the pro-labore plus some of the profit. Two-thirds kept the cash flow and 1/3 each received for the work.

The pieces were sold at the University itself.

They earned between 12 and 15 reais with the production, in addition to the budget to invest in material.

The notion of business management was introduced.

The funds were administered by the scholarship holders Bruna and Larissa.

Then came the customized t-shirts, made for ENICECULT, a congress held by UFRB.


For the first time, embroiderers participated in a craft fair.

Then came the orders ... for the bachelor party, the production for the Purification party, the order of the stylist from São Paulo ...

From November 2016 onwards the material started to be purchased with the sales money.


In 2017 they started to learn what investment is and for the Purification party the purchase of inputs was made with their money.

They bought stamps, packaging, feathers, good cotton and skein line. They no longer wanted to embroider with any thread.

Current situation

Embroiderers have reached an embroidery level where it is impossible to distinguish which is the reverse and the right of the cloth, an indispensable property for the perfection of the technique.

They wanted to become an association and generate income, but are unable to assume this feat alone. They do not yet dominate the legal and administrative management of an entity and do not know how to dispose of the goods. You have to learn.

The need generated by the immediacy of meeting the basic needs of the human being, such as food and clothing, and the lack of financial support to maintain the establishment of the association, generated the group's disarticulation.

“The ideal would be the possibility of incubating the group to transform it into an association”, says Thaís.

The assistance and learning necessary to maintain and make the business viable as an embryo is the most effective way to allow the group to continue.

Without investment nothing is done, nothing is produced and nothing moves!

Creative economy

Europe's economic potentials have found creativity and intellectual capital to be the key inputs when it comes to providing a competitive advantage to demanding consumers eager for new experiences, whether aesthetic or quality of life.

Even though Germany, through the Frankfurt School and Australia, were the first countries to discuss the concept of cultural industries, it was in England, with Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, in 1998, that cultural activities were mapped, expanding the discourse on the subject and inaugurating a new understanding of development.

More than a driving force of the economy, creativity is a human need present in everyday life in several areas of knowledge and action.

The symbolic, immaterial value that permeates the daily action of each individual / community becomes a fundamental and differential element of the product or service good to be produced.

Taking as a reference the growth estimates for cultural goods and services presented by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and by the ILO (International Labor Organization), the creative economy takes hold in Brazil as an institutionalized policy in 2011, with the creation of the Creative Economy Secretariat under the Ministry of Culture.

The driving premise is the new understanding of development where culture is a fundamental economic asset for new forms of wealth production.

According to the Creative Economy Secretariat's Plan for the years 2011 to 2014, the biggest challenge is to create the Brazilian concept on the subject, since most publications and debates are of Anglo-Saxon origin.

In addition to the term "cultural industry" already denoting large-scale manufacturing activities in Brazil, it has a socioeconomic, cultural aspect and the specific demands of each country.

Paulo Miguez shares with us, in the video below, the conceptual discussions on the topic. Current Vice-Rector of the Federal University of Bahia, he actively participated in the process, as Secretary of Cultural Policies of the Ministry of Culture (2003 to 2005) and later as a member of the State Council of Culture of Bahia (2009-20011).

Professor Paulo Miguez talks about the creative economy

The last two mapping of the creative industry in Brazil carried out by the FIRJAN system (Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro), comprising the years 2013 to 2015, the creative segment grew even in the face of the crisis and generated wealth in 2015, year 47 billions of dollars, which represents an average participation of 2.64% of the Brazilian GDP. The other graph shows an average participation slightly below the previous years, 2.62%.

The creative economy allows us to combine sustainability, social inclusion, innovation and cultural diversity, the greatest Brazilian wealth.

In this new world order, technological innovations are mixed with culture, interacting in order to build goods and services requiring the application and apprehension of increasingly sophisticated knowledge.

Within this development perspective, it is essential to change the perspective of the University's performance.

“We need to open the university structure for the development of culture, give access to students and the community”, says Professor Ivana Bentes from UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) at the 1st Culture and University Seminar held in Bahia.

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