|In the town of Prados, over 700 families make a living from popular art made in wood. That means over 2000 people sculpt or carve pieces in wood. Among them, the most common figure is the lion; although monkeys, owls and other animals also help fill up the shelves at the many workshops. The story of how it all started has many versions, but only one origin: The Julião family. Legend has it that one day a circus came to town. A young man who lived in the neighbourhood of Caraça watched the show and fell in love with the lions and monkeys. When he got home, he took a piece of wood and sculpted a lion. This is the story told by Itamar Julião’s mother, in 1996. And maybe this is the best explanation of why lions and monkeys are so popular in this area. Itamar Julião made history and unfortunately died early in 2003. Now, his lions are reproduced in abundance by the local craft artists. But while Itamar Julião made a name for himself, the story of his family started a long time ago, with cowboy Julião, who used to saw beams to build barns and make ornaments for saddles. His son, Antônio Julião (Itamar’s grandfather), learned the same skills and one day, to pass the time, he sculpted an ox. Of his four children, two (José and Pedro) started a line of sculptors who, thanks to Itamar Julião, developed and now make a living from their work.
José had eight children: Itamar, Vicentina, Antônio, Valdir, Eleuza, José, Maria and João. Pedro had Ari, Antônio, Pedro, Simone and Anésio. The latter has a son called Márcio who already works with wood, starting the fourth generation of artists in a family that is synonymous with sculpture. The same goes for the children of Vicentina and Antônio. And so, the work started by the first members of the Julião family became famous with Itamar, and looks like carrying on for many years to come, as the entire family is involved in sculpting. Here, we present some of them, from different generations.