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Portuguese Needlepoint

Circa 1940
472 × 306 cm 15’5” x 10’


A really pretty Portuguese Needlepoint, Circa 1940, woven in the village of Arraiolos, Southern-Portugal. A light off white background canvas is a wonderful base colour to allow the subtle gentle pinks, reds, and varying green wool to create this flowing elegant floral design.  In lovely condition for its age and a large needlepoint, which will sit flat on the floor with our sturdy underlay we supply.

Portuguese Needlepoint carpets differ from traditional Persian carpet weaving in that they produced using a tapestry needle and are created using diagonal stitches on the carpet’s jute or wool canvas. They have a larger wool knot because of this technique.  The elegant floral patterns are actually created by changing the colours of the wool.  Where as traditional Persian carpets are woven on a vertical loom, where the warp is strung vertically and the weft and knots go across the warp.

The tradition of weaving needlepoint rugs goes as far back as 1492 in Spain, Queen Isabella had weavers create beautiful chair coverings, bed head boards and floor coverings. Queen Isabella expelled the Jews in the same year and many of them ended up in Arraiolos in Southern-Portugal.  They had little skills or resources being expelled so quickly, but the women brought their expertise and knowledge of weaving needlepoints with them.  They started weaving needlepoint carpets to make a living and the women used to weave them in the village on the porch steps in the glorious sunshine! Many of the designs reflect tile work throughout Spain and Portuguese architecture.  They are still woven in Portugal today, and you can see women weaving in groups producing beautiful carpets.

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We offer the service of viewing any of our carpets & rugs in-situ in London, Surrey, Hampshire & the UK by appointment. Please request a home visit to see this lovely antique Portuguese needlepoint in-situ at a convenient time.

These Portuguese needlepoints are renowned for their embroidered work in wool on jute or linen. Portugal doesn’t have an extensive history in producing hand-woven carpets although Moorish carpet weavers worked in Portugal until the early 15th century until they were expelled.

Arraiolos is where these Portuguese needlework carpets are from a town in the province of Alto Alentejo in southern Portugal.  The weave on this needlepoint is Arraiolos long-armed cross-stitch along with hand dyed wool using natural dyes. The Portuguese are also known for weaving specific types of Portuguese rugs that are called Alpujarra Rugs. These floor coverings from Portugal are unique and feature pile in loops, made primarily in Spain from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century in the Alpujarras district,  which is located south of Granada.

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