Street Paving, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1850s

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Image Reference

Daniel P. Kidder, Brazil and the Brazilians, portrayed in historical and descriptive sketches (Philadelphia, 1857), p. 87. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Captioned, "The Three-Man Beetle," the author describes how streets are paved in Rio: "The paving-ram is the 'three-man beetle' of Shakespeare. A trio of slaves are called to their work by a rapid solo executed with a hammer upon an iron bar. The three seize the ram: one—the maestro, distinguished by a hat—wails forth a ditty, which the others join in chorus, at the same time lifting the beetle from the ground and bringing it down with a heavy blow . . . (p. 87); the process is repeated again and again, accompanied by the characteristic call and response pattern. The same illustration appears in later editions of Kidder's work, e.g., 1866 (6th ed.), 1879 (9th ed.).