Arraiolos Hand-Embroidered Wool Carpets

Arraiolos – Famous for its Wool Carpets:

Carpet making - Arraiolos Follow Me on Pinterest

Carpet making - Arraiolos

Arraiolos is famous for its wool carpets and tapestries which have been woven here since the 16th century.  Arraiolos carpets (Tapetes de Arraiolos) have decorated palaces and manor houses in Portugal for centuries and it is believed that the craft may have been introduced by the Moors.

Generations of embroiderers have preserved the Arraiolos carpet tradition and there are many tales and legends surrounding the Tapetes de Arraiolos, including one of a bride who showed up for her wedding covered with a rug.   As the story goes, there was a young damsel who was engaged at the time when there was ongoing wars between the Christians and the Moors.  As the village was attacked, her betrothed had to leave for combat.  It was a long time before the groom returned and grieving at the loss of youth it took him a long time to resurface.  When the bride eventually showed up for the wedding, she covered herself with a rug to hide the marks of time.

Arraiolos – A Carpet Town

Walking down the main thoroughfare, it is obvious that Arraiolos is a carpet town. Low-rise white buildings, with huge tapetes de arraiolos signs plastered on them, house many of the carpet galleries and workshops. There are a couple dozen carpet producers where visitors can admire and buy these Arraiolos carpets.

Arraiolos Carpet Design Styles

The hand-embroidered carpets are sewn in wool on a canvas frame.  They originally followed Persian and Indian designs but more modern designs became popular from the 18th century.  Arraiolos carpet design styles can be divided into three distinct periods in the 18th century.

  • the first period was based on compositions that portrayed the decorative influences of Persian carpets (these are considered to be amongst some of the finest examples)
  • the second period included popularly inspired designs, such as figures or animals; and
  • the third period at the end of the eighteenth century and continuing into the nineteenth century featured less dense and much more stylised patterns
Tapetes de Arraiolos Follow Me on Pinterest

Shopping for Arraiolos Carpets

Walking around town one can see the range of designs produced.  In one shop of the shops we got to see a newly produced floral carpet is being treated.

For anyone interested in Arraiolos tapestries, the Arraiolos Town Hall has a collection of tapestries and creations by Dórdio Gomes, a local painter.

Priced in Euros, the carpets are not cheap and furthermore it is not something that you can easily carry away with you, unless you have a car.

Accommodation in Arraiolos

If you are driving in the region and want to make Arraiolos your base, the Casa Do Platano is in Arraiolos town. Other accommodation in the nearby Arraiolos valley include the Pousada Arraiolos and the agritourism hotel Herdade Da Amendoeira.

See Travel Signposts Arraiolos Photos HERE

Map of Arraiolos:

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Comments

  1. avatarDagmar Hon says

    Dear Helen: This is an unusual story related to Arraiolos rugs. My parents lived in Brazil for over 35 years. Mom passed away last year at age 90 here in Boston where we now live. While living in a small fishing town on the Atlantic coast south of Santos, Brazil, she met a local woman who introduced her to the special Arraiolos cross stitch and she became acquainted with a group of woman who lived away from the village in the hill side surrounding Itanhaem, state of Sao Paulo, who were making some money making carpets. Since she was a widow and had time on her hands — and had always been an extremely talented tailor, embroider and porcelain painter — she took on the challenge making the rugs with some of the women. If I remember it correctly, she mentioned that it took approximately 3 months to complete 1 square meter. Mom got into this craft and eventually produced many a beautiful piece. She would work on one carpet 8-10 hours per day for several months. For many years I have decorated my walls and wooden floors with the pieces she had given me.

    In the mid 1980′s she went to Portugal to research about the carpets and visited many a museum where she painstakingly reproduced some of the designs of the carpets on display. She returned to Brazil, brought a lot of canvas, made templates of her designs, and obtained the wool through special channels. We have quite a few of her works of art that are now rolled up. We also have suitcases full of wool that mom had brought with her to Boston, as she continued working on these carpets since arriving in Boston in 1997, with the hope of selling them.

    I would be grateful if you could recommend someone who might be interested in the wool for a reasonable price. I would be happy to send sample strands of the wool in beautiful, vibrant colors that I have.

    Thank you in advance for your courtesy.
    Dagmar Hon
    Saugus, MA (USA)

    • avatar says

      Dear Dagmar,
      Thanks for sharing about your mum’s passion for Arraiolos carpets and her talents in making them. Although we visited Arraiolos and got to admire the carpets there, we do not have any connections with anyone in the trade.

      Should anyone express an interest through our site, I will forward that to you. Or if anyone else reading this knows of someone who’s interested in Dagmar’s wool, please add your comment here.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

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