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How Portuguese Embroidery Enriches the World


Ace Smith

When a country like Portugal imbibes the traditions and cultures of various peoples who have conquered its shores, you can expect its own local culture to get enriched. This shows very well in the countrys local arts and crafts that have evolved to trap those influences in contemporary cultural artifacts that have become commercial entrepreneurial successes as well.

One of them is Portuguese embroidery that can be found in linen and cotton tray and table cloths that adorns the tables in fine homes and mansions around the world and comprise many of the heirlooms passed from one generation to the next. Thanks to commerce on the internet, these magnificent specimens of Portuguese cultural tapestry in the form of handcrafted cloth embroidery are now made available to everyone, regardless of social and economic status.

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Anytime you mention Portuguese embroidery, the region of Viana do Castelo comes to mind. This is where the storied cultures of Portugals history meld into a local craft that has made yet another name for the country. A history of foreign domination over the centuries by the Carthaginians, Romans, Germans and Arab Moors have sculpted the Portuguese psyche and, together with its own conquest of distant lands during the Age of Discovery and Exploration in the 14th to the 16th centuries, created an unmistakable imprint on the arts and cultures of the country.

In addition to a culturally-rich content, the craftsmen of Viana do Castelo inherited many of the stitching techniques from East Asian and Mediterranean merchants and gypsies that have visited the country including Italian gypsies carrying unique artistic intricacies that now make up the distinct embroidery works of the region.

From modest design simplicity to rich complex textures, the local embroidery patterns immortalize on linen and cotton the native flora as only an inspired cultural heritage can imagine and realize.

Colors and forms transform and bring to life the local textile industry with a variety of stitching methods that include the Montenegrin, Rosette, Cretan, and Palestrina, the bullion knot, cross stitch, and herringbone stitch, to mention the finer ones. The Italian pattern influence like the Casalguidi and Sorbello are subtly apparent as well.

The rich artistic and stylized embroidery patterns as well as stitching traditions in the Viana do Castelo have inspired other parts of the country and its entrepreneurs to commercialize a craft which is no longer constrained by the geographic boundaries of Portugal to make the world richer from it.

Today, the world knows what it means to have the rich Portuguese embroidery right in their homes.

For more information regarding Portuguese embroidery, visit

Portuguese Embroidery

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How Portuguese Embroidery Enriches the World