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Main Works

From 1936 until his death in 1996, Verger's writings and photographs were published in over 100 books. However, from the entirety of his work, some publications may be considered more important than others due to their contributions to various areas of knowledge such as history, photography, anthropology and ethnology. Some of those writings are highlighted below:

mexique 150x150Beginning in 1936 – books published by Paul Hartmann

From 1936 to 1953, many of the books  published by the Parisian press Paul Hartmann were illustrated with photographs by Pierre Verger, some entirely – Cuba and Mexique  – others in part - Itália, Espanha, Brasil, Congo Belga.   Most of these books focused on four specific aspects of the countries visited: architecture, everyday life, festivals and nature.

dieux d afrique 150x1501954 - Dieux d’Afrique. Culte des Orishas et Vodouns à l’ancienne Côte des Esclaves en Afrique et à Bahia, la Baie de Tous les Saints au Brésil

Dieux d´Afrique was Verger´s first venture in writing. The book resulted from his growing interest in Afro-Brazilian religions and his voyages to Benin (the first was in 1947), at the invitation of Théodore Monod and IFAN (Institute Français d’Afrique Noir). The book is widely considered to be one of the first contributions to the field of visual anthropology.  In it, Verger describes various deities found both in the Bight of Benin and Salvador, Bahia.

indiens pas morts 150x1501956 - Incas to Indians

This book, a high-quality edition published by Delpire, is considered to be of great importance in the history of photography. In addition to including photos by Verger, there are also images by two other renowned photographers, Robert Franck and Werner Bishoff, taken in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. It should be noted that the three photographers did not know each other personally and their photos were taken without the intention of bringing them together in a single publication.

notes sur le culte des orixas 150x1501957 - Notes sur le culte des Orisa et Vodun à Bahia, la Baie de tous les Saints, au Brésil et à l’ancienne Côte des Esclaves en Afrique

The result of research conducted in the early 1950s, Notas sobre o culto aos orixás e voduns contains voluminous documentation on the cults of various orishas and voduns on both sides of the Atlantic. Illustrated with Verger’s own photographs, the book analyzes the existing literature on the subject, also presenting detailed discussions based on Verger’s studies. It includes transcriptions of sacred texts and chants collected during his field work.


flux et reflux 150x1501968 - Trade relations between the Bight of Benin and Bahia from the 17th to 19th centuries

A landmark study, not only in Brazilian historiography but also in the English and French-speaking worlds, Flux et reflux brings together data from archival research in Brazil, West Africa and Great Britain, on the long history of the slave trade between Brazil and the Bight of Benin and the cultural contacts that arose from this legacy. This subject would spark a focus on what would become a recurring theme in Verger’s work: the descendents of African freedmen and women who left Brazil to return to the Bight of Benin. This book was presented to the Sorbonne as a doctoral thesis in African studies in 1968.


retratos da bahia 150x1501980 - Retratos da Bahia, 1946 a 1952

This classic work of Verger’s reveals the charm and beauty of the city of Salvador as Verger saw it in the years following his first arrival in 1946, with an emphasis on its architecture, open-air markets, port, Afro-Brazilian religious manifestations, popular Catholicism and artists – elements that continued to enchant Verger until his death five decades later.


orixas capa 150x1501981 - Orixás, Deuses iorubas na África e no Novo Mundo

In the city of Salvador, this is far and away Verger’s most popular book, especially for those interested in Afro-Brazilian religion.  Conceived along the same lines as Dieux d´afrique (1954) and Notes e sur le cultes des orisá (1957), it brings together more than 250 photographs, with original text by Verger based on his field work on both sides of the Atlantic, but with more of a focus on the New World, especially in the Brazilian cities of Bahia and Recife, where the cults to the orishas exerted a crucial influence in the formation of local and regional popular culture and identity.

50 anos de fotografia 150x1501982 - 50 anos de fotografia

In this book, a selection of images taken by Verger in different parts of the world illustrate an entertaining narrative about his travels and career as a photographer. Divided into 27 chapters, with texts and images, the book holds a unique place in Verver’s oeuvre, as his only autobiographical work. To this day, it is an important source of information for anyone wishing to understand his trajectory as a photographer.

le messager 150x1501993 - Pierre Verger, Le Messager. The Go-Between - Photographies 1932-1962

Considered one of the most beautiful collections of Verger’s photography, this book is also a sort of photographic autobiography. Through magnificent images selected by  Verger, Jean-Louis Pivin and Pascal Saint-Léon, this is an art book that emphasizes the aesthetic qualities of  Verger’s work. A biographical chronology is included at the end.

ewe o  uso das plantas na sociedade ioruba capa 150x1501995 - Ewé. The use of Plants in Yoruba Society

Published a few months before Verger’s death, Ewé represents more than twenty years of research into the curative and spiritual powers of plants in Yoruba traditional medicine and religious practice. It includes transcriptions of over two thousand spiritual-medical preparations and the incantations that accompany them. There is a glossary at the end listing all of the plants mentioned, with ilustrations and scientific names.