Joaquim Maria Silva Paiva was born in Lapas. He worked until the age of 23 as a farmer, before becoming a warehouseman for a road transport company. He retired in 1981 and returned to farming. In 1986 he left farming because of bad health and devoted himself to distilling his own aguardente and making his first figures. His first signed pieces were Adam and Eve which instantly brought praise and encouraged him to invent more. He taught himself carving, using rudimentary tools and different woods that he obtains from his land in Lapas. Because of the slow, highly focused way he worked, he didn't produce many pieces.