November 14, 2013

New life for old embroidery

Olá! This week I bring you a very inspiring and simple story about very simple and inspired people. This story begun more than 50 years ago in Paredes de Coura, a municipality in the North of Portugal, Minho Region, near form the frontier with Spain.

All around our country, fifty years ago, unmarried girls prepared their bridal trousseau with their own hands. In this big family living in Paredes de Coura, sisters gathered at night after work to embroider, make lace or spin... The images I show you are from a linen bedsheet embroidered during those late sessions by one of these sisters.

Old embroidery from Paredes de Coura
Old embroidery
Reproduction of old embroidery from Paredes de Coura
Reproduction of old embroidery
These girls were not experts... And there were no patterns (riscos as it is said in Traditional Portuguese embroidery) to follow. Paredes de Coura is not a place especially recognized by its embroideries like other municipalities from Minho Region are. So these girls used a pencil and by their own hand traced the motifs without having to respect any rules... only as their hearts dictated. And I believe that's the reason why these motifs are so incredibly naif and beautiful.

Old embroidery from Paredes de Coura
Old embroidery
Reproduction of old embroidery from Paredes de Coura
Reproduction of old embroidery

This bedsheet was embroidered with the monograms of the embroiderer and her fiance "B & N". As you can see in the photos, the "old stitching" was not perfect... And I even cannot recognized some stitches... I believe they were guided by instinct instead of being "official" stitches (maybe I did not made myself clear...).

The imperfect stitching, the lack of rules in tracing the patterns and the color choice (green for flowers) in my opinion, make this piece of embroidery absolutely charming, showing what happened late at night in many, many Portuguese homes fifty years ago...

Old embroidery from Paredes de Coura
Old embroidery
Reproduction of old embroidery from Paredes de Coura
Reproduction of old embroidery

But this story doesn't end here...

Many years later the artist of the original piece of embroidery made it a gift to her niece, Maria Alice, knowing that she would appreciate it. Besides being a great embroider, Maria Alice belongs to a traditional folklore dancing group (rancho folclórico) and she could use it to recreate traditional costumes.

But Maria Alice came out with better idea... She decided to make a reproduction (or maybe a recreation) of the original embroidery using the same linen of the bed sheet. And she gave the original piece and the recreation to both daughters (her cousins) of the embroiderer from 50 years ago. I believe this was such a surprise for them...

The original piece of embroidery and the reproduction
Original and reproduction
This is a very simple story, but I believe that it tells a lot about our (simple) country... And stories like these are the reason why I always say that Portugal is a living museum of embroidery...

4 comments:

  1. Gabi, what a lovely post! I'm so glad you appreciate the lovely work they did.

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  2. A wondeful post and a tribute to the generations of woman who all sat and embroidered before the weddings. I know that so many cultures do some kinda tapestry, embroidery rug making and weaving before the wedding day, but it was interesting to hear this story. She did an amazing job reproducing the originals and what a wonderful gift!! Xo

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  3. Embroidering is the act of creating designs on fabric by sewing, like putting a decorative flower on a cloth napkin or scarf.




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