- Educational activities
- 286 610 100
- [email protected]
One of the oldest crafts in the municipality of Mértola is the weaving of woolen blankets. Their patterns date back to ancient times and we can make comparisons with the decorative motifs found in ceramic objects from the Islamic period (8th century-1st half of the 13th century) unearthed from houses found in Mértola’s Alcáçova (Alcazaba).
Here, different types of weaving-related objects were also found, such as spindles, ‘cossoiros’, distaffs, loom weights and needles, thimbles, and scissors. In the Weaving Workshop, where we keep the objects and show the work of the weavers, our goal is to preserve this age-old know-how, keeping the entire cycle of the wool alive, using high-quality raw material, traditional production techniques, and old decorative themes.
Museum Units of
Opening date: 2000;
change of facilities in 2005;
renovated in 2014
The traditional weaving of the woollen blankets of Mértola currently represents the survival of what was once a necessity, a way of earning a living and helping the family to survive. Some 50 years ago, the weaver’s activity was characterised by an accumulation of works to be sold in the fairs of the region and to meet the many orders. Today, production is mainly aimed at a public that wants to have a piece that represents the memory of this know-how in their homes.
The complex work of preparing the wool, carried out in several stages, is essential to the quality of the fabric. In the past, this work was carried out or closely monitored by the weaver, who thus guaranteed the quality of her work and maintained her reputation in the community. The production of woollen fabric also depends on the loom, a complex mechanism regarding which it is essential to know and understand the functioning of all its components.
In the Weaving Workshop, visitors can learn about this work and understand the functionality of the objects on display and in use, representative of an ancient activity that has survived to the present day. However, the evolution of society, the difficulties inherent to maintaining traditional production methods and the problems of depopulation and desertification of the inland regions of Portugal, have led to a point where the continuity of this work is at stake.
This is the great challenge we are currently facing and which already existed 4 decades ago, when the first survey on weaving was carried out and a Cooperative was created with the main objective of providing training. After 40 years, the question of continuity becomes even more critical: the woollen blankets of Mértola are manufactured by 2 weavers, both over 60 years old.
This situation led to a debate involving the community and local institutions, which, led by the City Council, have developed efforts to outline a common strategy that allows the preservation and continuity of this know-how. With the Museum Units of the Weaving Workshop as its central location, a training process has begun that aims to give continuity to the whole process of wool treatment, from shearing to execution on the loom.
Here we will show you the different stages of future weavers’ – Nazaré Fabião and Rosa Ruivo – learning.