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"Brazilian ball" for Henry II of France in Rouen, 1 October 1550. 300 naked men were employed to illustrate life in Brazil and a battle between the Tupinambá allies of the French, and the Tabajara Indians.
"Salutations larmoyantes" ("Tearful salutations") describing the Tupinambás, in Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Brésil (1578), Jean de Léry, 1580 edition.

The Tupinambá were one of the various Tupi ethnic groups that inhabited present-day Brazil before the conquest of the region by Portuguese colonial settlers. The Tupinambás lived in São Luis, Maranhão.[1] Their language survives today in the form of Nheengatu.

The Tupinamba in Western Travel literature[edit]

The usages and habits of the Tupinambás were abundantly described in the Cosmographie universelle (1572) of André Thevet, in Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Brésil (1578), by Jean de Léry and Hans Staden's True Story and Description of a Country of Wild, Naked, Grim, Man-eating People in the New World. Thevet and Lery were an inspiration for Montaigne's famous essay Des Cannibales,[2][3] and influenced the creation of the myth of the "noble savage" during the Enlightenment.


  1. ^ "Map of Maranhao, City of São Luis do Maranhão". World Digital Library. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Michel de Montaigne,Essais, Book 1, Chap.31
  3. ^ Carlo Ginzburg (2012)Threads and Traces: True, False, Fictive, (papers), University of California Press, ISBN 9780520274488, Chapter 3: Montaigne, Cannibals, and Grottoes
  4. ^ "True History and Description of a Country in America, whose Inhabitants are Savage, Naked, Very Godless and Cruel Man-Eaters". World Digital Library. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 


  • Léry, Jean, and Janet Whatley. History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Otherwise Called America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. Print.