Wondering what things to buy during your trip to Brazil. Whether it's arts and crafts, gemstones or leather we run you through all the popular gifts available in Brazil.
Brazil offers people a great variety of gifts, especially in terms of arts, crafts and natural products. Most people on vacation will be visiting the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio, so there is no problem finding a range of gifts from cheap tourist trinkets to Indian craft work. Obviously the prices will be much higher. However, if you are looking for ethnic arts and crafts as gifts you should go to some of the inexpensive alternatives such as the shops of FUNAI (the government Indian agency) which acts like a cooperative.
Away from Sao Paulo and Rio there are plenty of other places for good quality indigenous gifts. The three main things to buy in Brazil are arts and crafts, gemstones and leather goods.
Arts and Crafts:
Around Brazil you will come across artisan fairs, usually on the weekends, where local people come and show their wares. This is a great place to pick up a traditional Brazilian gift at a decent price. For those interested in things to buy that are ethical, this is the place to be as many local Indians rely on such fairs to make a living. Due to the destruction of their traditional way of life, many turned to arts, crafts and gift making. Things to buy, in terms of traditional Indian gifts include the following:
Ceramic arts: a speciality of the Marajoara, Tapajoara and other eastern Amazonian Indians.
Painted figures: have become associated with the Karaja tribe.
Woven bags/baskets: made with Brazilian leaves, bark and other natural fibres the baskets and bags of the Kaxinawa Indians have become famous.
Lace: can be found in Fortaleza and the south-eastern coast.
If it is gemstones you are looking to buy, Brazil is the place to be. Although you can find quality gemstones all over Brazil, Rio is by far the best place to buy quality gemstones at good prices. Common gemstones in Brazil include Esperssartita, Tourmaline, Ametist, Greengold, Quartz, Topaz and Diamond. All make great gifts. One of the best shops to buy gemstones in Rio is H. Stern Jewelers, in Ipanema. If you are looking for gemstones to buy as gifts outside of Rio then your best bet is Minas Gerais.
Brazil sells plenty of leather goods, much of it imported. Things to buy as gifts made from leather include shoes, belts, wallets, purses, luggage and hats. Brazilian leather does not however enjoy a reputation for being top-notch quality. It is durable and good value but not top of the range.
Other gifts and things to buy:
A few other good things to buy as gifts include hammocks, picture books, anything to do with the Brazilian football (soccer) team, Guarana products, thongs and various potions and powders used by Indians for anything from good health to sexual virility.