quarta-feira, 27 de maio de 2009

José Maria (Jack) Braga: 1897-1988

Retrato a carvão da autoria de Fausto Sampaio* (*ver outro post sobre este pintor)

Foi um importantes historiador (amador) de Macau. Morreu em 1988, com 91 anos, nos EUA. Pertencia a uma das mais antigas famílias portuguesas de Macau, tendo o seu avô sido dos primeiros residentes em Hong Kong, logo após a fundação da colónia pelos britãnicos. Foi ali que Braga nasceu em 1897. Desde muito cedo dedicou-se à história da expansão marítima portuguesa na Ásia. Aquando da sua morte o Padre Manuel Teixeira disse "perdemos um dos maiores historiadores de Macau. O Padre foi aluno de Braga em 1934 logo após chegar a Macau, no Seminário de S. José. Ainda de acordo com o Padre, Braga estava ao nível do historiador Charles Boxer "e merece bem que se lhe dedique um monumento e uma rua. Professor e escritor, Jack Braga foi ainda conselheiro de vários governadores, nomeadamente sobre Hong Kong. Durante a Guerra do Pacífico serviu de ligação entre os serviços secretos chineses e ingleses.
Escreveu, entre outros, "Early medical practice in Macao" 1935, "A Biblioteca do Capitão Charles Boxer", 1936, "Os pioneiros do Ocidente e a Descoberta de Macau" e "Camões" em 1949. Há também o registo de um guia turístico (Short Handbook) em 1968.
Um sobrinho de Braga (Stuart) levou para a Austrália a maior parte do espólio do tio: "My uncle, J.M. (Jack) Braga, who had already begun to collect a significant library on the activities of the Portuguese in the Far East. The war put a stop to his acquisition of books, but instead he began to record the life of the large English-speaking community in its efforts to maintain a vibrant cultural life in these extraordinary conditions.
By mid-1945 it was obvious to local people that the war was finally coming to an end, as the growing number of air raids told of increasing American air supremacy. Braga began to collect newspapers, including the English edition of the Portuguese newspaper Renascimento, which by mid-1945 was able to give accurate information about the collapse of Nazi Germany. Now held in the National Library of Australia, these papers tell a dramatic story of rapidly growing excitement."
Jack Braga em 1974 já nos EUA

Jornal Renascimento, "o jornal português de maior circulação no Extremo-Oriente" que tinha edições em português, inglês e chinês. Publicou-se entre 1945 e 1947.
Jornal de 1945 do espólio de Jack Braga

Em 1966 a Biblioteca Nacional da Austrália aquiriu uma grande parte do espólio dos pertences de Jack Braga. Eis o que lá está segundo texto do site da biliboteca.
"The Braga Collection is mainly concerned with Portuguese activity in Asia. Jose Maria Braga was a businessman, teacher and author based in Macau, who wrote numerous books and articles about this Portuguese settlement. While his collection covers Portuguese influence worldwide its main concentration is on Macau, Hong Kong, China and Japan. The greater part of his library of books, manuscripts, pictures, newspapers and journals was acquired by the National Library in 1966.
The collection commences with Portugal's expansion in the fifteenth century, including the development of nautical science, and accounts of principal voyages. Religious missions to Africa and Asia are also well covered. There is a focus on Macau as the religious and commercial centre for Portugal's relations in the region, particularly with China. For the nineteenth century and later the collection is more concerned with the role of Hong Kong as it eclipsed Macau in importance.
Most of the manuscripts in the Braga Collection are copies of documents held in European archives and libraries. Some of the originals have been lost. Manuscripts by Braga himself include his translations and notes relating to the Jesuits in Asia, a handbook of Portuguese officials and their contemporaries in China, and a biographical index to European expansion in East Asia.
Braga collected around a thousand pictures relating mainly to his interests in East Asia. There are watercolours, prints, engravings, line drawings, and several oil paintings. The subjects covered include religious and other buildings, especially in Macau, many ships, portraits of missionaries and scenes of traditional life in China and Japan."

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