The traditional “Sweetheart Handkerchief” is one of our beloved inspirations.
It is well known for the audacity of women, in the Minho region, that used the handkerchief they embroidered to declare themselves to the one who made their heart beat faster. They used it as a game of seduction.
It's the story of the handkerchief that was used to communicate these womens' dreams and desires. They did so by choosing the motifs they wanted to embroider. One of the most present, which symbolizes nostalgia of those who emigrated to Brazil, is the steamboat.
“My Manel goes to Brazil
I also go in the steamboat
Kept in the heart
of the one who is my love.”
The men emigrated and took the handkerchief with them, a symbol of love from the woman waiting for him in Portugal. Sometimes they didn't come back...
As I share this tradition, I gather testimonials from people who, familiar with this story, share incredible information with me, some more private than others.
It's the case of descendants of emigrants who recently called Portuguese public institutions to ask what the handkerchief meant: their father, or grandfather, had one and did not let anyone touch it... They were told it represented the symbol of a woman’s love, the one who stayed behind in Portuguese lands.
More recently, during an event in which OXUM participated, a listener told me: my grandfather had such a handkerchief. Excited, I immediately reacted: Bring me this handkerchief, I want to tell you its story. To which the young woman replied: My grandmother burned it when my grandfather passed away.
The strength of the symbolism and the jealousy of an unforgettable love, represented on the handkerchief.
Echoes of a tradition that continues alive and oh so passionate.