Monday, 25 May 2009

Cross-stitched Portuguese Rugs by Cristina

Some of you may have noticed a small picture in the side bar on the right which shows a woman stitching a Portuguese rug. If you were brave, you might, like Alice in Wonderland have clicked on this image and dropped into another world - the noble, cultured world we are celebrating tonight - Portugal.
England has always enjoyed close ties to Portugal - John of Gaunt's daughter Philippa married John I of Portugal and we all know from school that Catherine of Braganza, daughter of John IV of Portugal, married Charles II. The only other history you need to know is that the Portuguese rugs, named Arraiolos after a village, date back to the 15th century.

I am an inveterate mill lover and a while ago when I was touring the mills in Lowell, Massachussetts, I overheard a group of people speaking. I am reasonable at languages and couldn't quite place their language - it had the slight nasal overtones of Russian but was as lush as a chocolate truffle. At school, where I had learnt Spanish, I had been assured by my teacher that Portuguese was a 'harsh' language and so I had never explored further. Well, she was wrong, but I was lucky because I had the joy of learning Portuguese ahead of me!

There are some lovely books on Portugal - my favourite is Journey to Portugal by Jose Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel laureate whose books are now widely available in translation. Also Rose Macaulay put together two fascinating books of first-hand accounts of early travellers to Portugal titled: They Went to Portugal and They Went to Portugal Too. Look for the excellent but hard to find book in English by Patricia Stone on the Arriaolos rugs titled: Portuguese Needlework Rugs.

Travel up and down the side-bar to your right you will see and hear some special treats we have put together for you. You will see a video of how the Arriaolos stitch is made for the rugs, and on another screen see some sights of Portugal. You will also hear Amalia Rodrigues, the Queen of Fado, singing Uma Casa Portugesa - this is music I dance around to when doing my dusting and the dusting gets done in a zip. You will soon be able to sing along with her! But don't forget to visit and say Bom Dia to Cristina, who made the beautiful rug in this posting - she is waiting to show you the basics of how to make these lovely rugs yourself - just scroll down her blog and you will see the postings. Click here to make your journey to Cristina in her Casa Portuguesa.

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