Lacework arrived in Brazil with the first Portuguese women who came from Portugal and the islands of Madeira and Azores. Their husbands or fathers were fishermen and they settled on the coast in northeastern Brazil and on the island of Santa Catarina in the South. Most lace makers (rendeiras in Portuguese) are still the wives of fishermen, justifying the popular saying that "where there is a fishing net there is lace."
In fact, in the filé laces characteristic of Alagoas in northeastern Brazil, it is usually the fishermen who make the nets that the women will fill with geometrical or floral designs; as far as I know, there's only one guy, a "rendeiro," in the village of Pontal da Barra, where I took the photographs below.
The most famous of all Brazilian laces is the "renaissance" or "Irish" lace made in Pernambuco. For information on shopping for dresses, skirts, blouses, and home accessories (tablecloths will cost around two thousand dollars), please see our Recife and João Pessoa pages.
Among our favorites are also the "bilro" and "tramóia" laces on the island of Santa Catarina. On this photograph you can a lacemaker's pillow. I couldn't believe how fast her hands moved as she kept talking to people all around her during her demonstration...
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