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Cello bow by D Silveira, Brazil


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Cello Bow by D Silveira from the workshops of Horst John, Brazil

When one thinks of quality Brazilian handcrafted pernambuco wood bows, one name comes to mind: Horst John.

When Horst John arrived in Brazil in the mid-twentieth century, he fell in love with the noble woods of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, which stretches from the state of Rio de Janeiro thousands of kilometers northward to the states of Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Norte.

John bought a 42-hectare forest in Aracruz in southeastern Brazil – just 40 kilometers away from a quaint backwoods community of some three thousand inhabitants – Guarana – in the state of Espirito Santo. That’s where John set up both a factory for bowmaking and a pernambuco wood nursery for replanting in the forest.

The founder was attracted to the variety of noble woods in the Atlantic Forest as a source of inspiration, in much the same way that musician Tom Jobim was entranced by the songs of the hundreds of varieties of birds residing there. Both men became artists in their own right. 

Especially interested in what the Brazilians call Pau-Brasil, the tree after which the country was named, Horst John became fascinated by the technical specifications of the different varieties of pernambuco wood in bow making.
The older the wood, the better the quality of the bow. And Horst Johnhas a reserve of such wood to last many years.

Tourte was the most renowned bowmaker of the eighteenth century, recognized as the first to experiment with pernambuco wood. as the public became aware that of all of the varieties of pernambuco wood that exist in different regions and countries of the world, only those varieties native to the country of Brazil in the Atlantic Forest are the best for bows. 

Europeans thus came to know Horst John in the twentieth century as one of the most important suppliers of pernambuco wood and they came to recognize his pioneering studies of the fine raw material, even adopting John’s classification system to facilitate the selection of the most important varieties of pernambuco wood to be used in bowmaking. 

John created five categories of the native Brazilian pernambuco wood based on criteria including soil, environment, color, texture, veins, grain, density, elasticity, weight. These categories are: Peccatte, Sartori, Dodd, John (Vermelho) Red, and
John (Amarello) Yellow.

John (Vermelho)
John (Amarelo)

John’s classification system aided the separation of the wood for stacking by instrument. He perfected the naturally dried process and produced standards of quality in acclimatization.

Brazilian Bowmaking with European Tradition

In the early 1970s Horst John sent Brazilians to Germany to learn as apprentices of master craftsmen and then extended personal invitations to the European bowmakers themselves to participate in a type of laboratory at his Guarana factory. European bowmakers came to his renowned Brazilian workshops and nursery to share in his findings and see for themselves how, for example, a certain variety of pernambuco wood was the most appropriate for a violin or cello. The Europeans also marveled at John’s reforesting efforts as a tribute to future musicians

This ongoing international exchange of bowmakers helped the Brazilians master specific skills such as cutting and carving the stick correctly, gluing and setting the tip, working the frog, wrapping the bow’s grip and combing and stretching the hair.

Horst John is known for the skill and care of its staff of bowmakers from a line of Brazilians who have been trained by master European craftsmen. All Brazilian bowmakers got their start at Horst John.

The round stick of pernambuco of a dark red-orange colour, silver mounted ebony frog inlaid with Parisian eye. Three part silver adjuster inlaid with pearl eye.

Stamped ‘D Silveira’ on the shaft

  • Weight 80 grams

Condition Report

Condition as new

Additional information

Weight0.28 kg
Dimensions79 × 4.5 × 4.5 cm


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