Handicraft



 

Handicrafts are the product of a culture and the fruits of traditional techniques and knowledge handed down over generations. It is one of the most faithful representations of a people’s way of life, their sensibilities and, why not, imagination.

 

By nature a popular art, it is also an anonymous one, putting to use such raw materials as are available to the artisan. Several different types of materials are used in this "handy" craft. Wood is used to make miniature boats that represent particular regions and ways of life. The moliceiros from the Aveiro Estuary and the rabelos from the Douro River are two examples of the perfection reached by the artisan, who, in fact, uses the same techniques as those involved in building the original fishing boats. Also worth mentioning are the exquisite lacework and embroidered fabrics made in Madeira or in the Minho - the lovers’ handkerchiefs (lenços dos namorados) from Vila Verde are a good example. The tapestries of Arraiolos, with their distinctive stitching, the patchwork bedspreads and the furniture made in the Alentejo, so rich and colourful, are living examples of how much a single region can produce.

 

Moving on to earthenware, the pottery made in Bisalhães is renowned for its characteristic dark tones resembling tin, a result of the way it is baked. But there is a lot more from all around the country: the filigree from Travassos, descended from an ancient technique for working gold, still worn by women in the north, or the dolls that each region makes from the fabric of old garments. From Monsanto come the cloth Marafonas and from Nazaré comes the woman in seven skirts. However, many people think the best representative of Portuguese handicraft comes from the town of Barcelos - the Barcelos cockerel. According to legend, it came back to life to save the life of an innocent man accused of murder, thus also saving his honour.

 

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