Tuesday 26 May 2009

Castelo Branco Embroidery

The Portuguese have an important seafaring history. They were ever in the forefront of European maritime exploration. It is no coincidence that the Japanese for Thank you is Arrigato from the Portuguese for Thank you - Obrigado. The Portuguese were amongst the first to trade in the Far East and in addition to the valuable spices they brought home, they brought home sumptious floral silks from China and India. If you look at the two embroidered bedspreads - colchas - stitched in the city famous for the work - Castelo Branco - you will see a very strong resemblance to English crewel work as shown beautifully on the Norwich school sampler of our own Mary Postle. In fact the influence of these Far Eastern imports leaves a strong and lasting impression all along the maritime coasts of western Europe which can be seen in textiles from Portugal, to the East coast of England, the Netherlands, and particularly the Northern Netherlands at Hinderlopen. The influence was also carried up the Rhone valley from the Mediterranean port of Marseilles to the vast market of Beaucaire and from there to Mulhouse, which lay outside of French jurisdiction ruling illegal, for a time, the import of these well-loved and greatly desired fabrics. You will see on the side-bar a video of an embroiderer from Castel Branco. A little tip, set the music playing and then turn on the video clip. And if you would like to talk to an English-speaking practitioner - then it is back again to Cristina's home tonight. Click here to transport yourself!

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