Kunst Museum,
Mindelo, São Vicente

Cape Verde Paintingsindelo Cape Verde Paintingsindelo

Art and Culture

Above all, pottery and weaving products are manufactured on Cape Verde. But you can also find paintings (by Manuel Figueira, Barros-Gizzi and Maria-Luisa Queirós, for example), crocheted blankets, which is a tradition from Portugal, woodworking, batik, embroidery and woven baskets (balai). The woven tapestries in the traditional colours of white, indigo blue and black are also very common. The panos, square cloths that are used as pieces of clothing, are dyed in indigo blue. Above all, the art of pottery can be found on Maio, Santiago, Sal Boa Vista and São Vicente. Large water containers (potes), sculptures and vases are made here.

Potteryoa Vista
Pottery on the island of Boa Vista


Stage plays are very popular on Cape Verde. The plays, which are usually written by the actors themselves, are concerned with everyday topics that interest the people of Cape Verde. A theatre festival takes place in the summer in Mindelo.


Among the literary forms of the Cape Verde Islands, poetry plays a significant role. This may be because the censorship of the Portuguese rulers was very strict and allegoric images represented the only feasible way for expressing the true feelings of the artist. Names such as Pedro Cardoso and Eugénio Tavares, representatives of nativism, were the fathers of the literary movement on the islands. In the 1940s, the intellectual group (Capverdianidade) around Jorge Barbosa, Baltasar Lopez da Silva and Manuel Lopez with the Claridade magazine attracted attention. This can probably be called the origin of the classic Cape Verde literature. The 1950s saw the development of the Africanidade movement, which was distinguished by a much more direct political discourse that led to some of its members – including Ovídio Martins – being punished with torture as a result. Amilcar Cabral (cf. History) also supported the intellectual contents of this movement.

Cape Verde Wovenaskets
Woven baskets on Santiago


In addition to carnival (cf. Carnival), there are many other celebrations on Cape Verde. The Cape Verdeans like to have very exuberant celebrations with beautiful clothing, large quantities of good food, many friends and family and, of course, plenty of music, singing and dancing. Above all, the city or island festivals are celebrated on the respective name day of the saint for which it was named. Then there is a traditional procession in honour of the patron saint, people celebrate on the city plazas with stalls, games of chance and music – all of the residents from neighbouring islands are obviously invited and come in large numbers. Of course, the classic festivals such as Christmas, Easter or New Year are also on the calendar of festivals. Private celebrations are birthdays, weddings, baptisms and communions – the classic festivals that are also familiar in Europe. However, there is a small difference here: The Cape Verdeans really enjoy combining the parties of several families and often celebrate for days on end. For example, a number of children are baptised at the same time and the entire city is often on the “invitation list.“ But unknown guests are also welcome and encouraged to participate.

The Cape Verdeans really love to celebrate. Their festivals support the sense of unity among the people and give them new courage and confidence for their everyday lives.

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