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Throughout Brazil's poor Northeast ("Sertão"), itinerant peddlers sell home-made illustrated chapbooks addressing popular themes, folktales and legends. This unique art form - "Literatura de cordel" (string literature), consists of written verses and woodblock prints illustrating the rhymed stories. Traditionally, the "literatura de cordel" booklets were sold at country fairs or popular rural markets where they hung from a piece of string (cordel) or clothesline. These long, narrative poems with their woodcut illustrations on the cover, often done by the poet himself, were sung out loud to a mostly illiterate rural population. The traditional themes (romances, fantastic stories, animal fables, religious traditions) and themes based on current events, famous people or politicians, can be hilarious, romantic, satirical, and even racy. More recently, cordel booklets are also sold in Brazil's big cities where much of the rural population of the Sertão has migrated. At the same time, woodblock prints illustrating the booklets have been produced in larger formats and are sold separately, often to collectors. On rare occasions the woodblocks themselves are sold.
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