Azores in a box is a project created by the Regional Centre for Handicrafts to promote the Azorean crafts.
They are genuine traditional products, local identity signs, carrying stories that are part of the collective memory of the Azores.
The Arts and Crafts play a very important role in the affirmation of local identities, maintaining and preserving a vast collection of memories and ethnographic patrimony.
From the line of promotional kits Azores in a box, are part products of the different Azorean craft activities, subject to various themes such as religion, pottery, corn leaves, toys, among others.
Initially, the kits are available for sale at the Regional Centre for Handicrafts and in the “Louvre Micaelense” in Ponta Delgada.
Corn leaf doll and straw brooch
The corn crop was introduced in São Miguel in the 17th century and, from the outset, brought improvements to the feeding of populations and livestock. Like the leaves of dragon tree, corn leaves were also used for the production of artifacts, decorative and utilitarian objects, such as doormats, hats, flowers, among others.
On the threshing of the corn everything was used: the spike, the leaves and even the beards. The use of the dry leaves and beards gave birth to the typical dolls, an old children’s entertainment and emblematic object of the regional handicraft.
The use of wheat, a cereal crop that was once significant in the islands, led to the production of utilitarian products such as mats, rugs and hats.
Nowadays, the raw material and techniques employed in the production of typical products are also used in the production of various pieces of contemporary costume jewelry: necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pins.
The complexity of the process, and the originality are characteristics that transform these pieces into unique objects.
Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres
The cult of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres dates back to the 16th century with the arrival of the sister Anunciada to the convent of Good Hope. Sister Anunciada adopted an attitude of deep devotion and dedication to the old image of the “Ecce Homo”. With the support of the population, sister Anunciada instituted the annual festivity of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, present to this day, representing one of the largest and oldest demonstrations of religious faith in the country.
The cult Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres is the motto for the creation of several objects of regional handicraft, like the capes of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres and the Registos. The capes honor the “Ecce Homo” and serve as protection to whoever buys it. The Registos are the reproduction of the image of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres and express the religiosity of the Azorean people for the cult of a secular image.
The rosary of the Romeiro (pilgrim) is made with seeds or berries of the corn of the Sabugueiro, original from Brazil. They are berries that are born naturally glazed and pierced. The artisan molds the wire to separate 59 points – the “Tears of Mary”. This creation is linked to the religious tradition of the Lenten pilgrimages in São Miguel, which began in 1522 after the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in Vila Franca do Campo. It is a tradition of São Miguel, but it already begins to exist on other islands.
The dragon tree is a tree that develops in the islands of Macaronesia (Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde and the Canary Islands). It owes its name to the color of the sap which when in contact with the air oxidizes and forms a pasty substance of bright red color, known as dragon-blood. The extracted sap, solidified and reduced to powder was used in areas such as dyeing and traditional medicine.
But the use of the dragon tree does not stick to the sap.
With the leaves of the dragoon tree also was made utensils for the day-to-day, like mats, brooms, hats, among others. The children found that with some creativity they could maneuver and use the dragon tree leaf to design their own toys.
The corn crop was introduced in São Miguel in the 17th century and, from the outset, brought improvements to the feeding of populations and livestock.
Like the dragoons tree leaves, corn leaves were also used for the production of artefacts, decorative and utilitarian objects, such as door mats, hats and flowers. In the period of the defoliation, the children used the leaves and the beards of the corn to make, for example, the dolls.
The Labregas are dolls made with the utilization of fabrics and filled with trimmings of cedar or Cryptomeria wood. They were born from a legend from the night of February 1st to February 2nd. That night they would torment people with strange and frightening noises, so the population avoided leaving the house and the women gathered to pray about 100 Hail Marys.
Currently, the dolls made of corn, dragon tree and the Labregas are emblematic pieces of the Azorean handicraft, namely of the islands of Pico, Faial and São Miguel.
Divine Holy Spirit
The worship of the Divine Holy Spirit is celebrated in commemoration of Pentecost (fifty days after the resurrection). From the collection and the novenas, to the coronation and processions, the Festivity of the Divine Holy Spirit is the most vivid expression of this cultural mysticism, where the sacred and the profane meet. Although celebrated throughout the country, the Festivities of Divino Espírito Santo have a greater expressiveness in the Azores.
Figurative ceramics reproduces characters from the Festivities of the Divine Holy Spirit, namely the revelers. The revelers of the Divine with their songs participate in the preparation of the Festivities of the Divine, visiting the homes of the brothers, singing the deeds and powers of the Divine Holy Spirit.
The flag of the Divine Holy Spirit, considered the greatest symbol of this religious manifestation, is made of live red apricot, a sign of the love of God, and represents the blood of the martyrs. It is the flag of God and His People.
The Dezenas are a set of 10 beads representing the 10 Hail Marys and another one, which is next to the crucifix, which symbolizes one Our Father. The Dezenas are made of berries, naturally glazed and pierced, which makes them unique.
The blue immensity of the Atlantic Ocean brings a sense of mystery, tranquility to the Azoreans, but it also sharpens the adventurous spirit.
In the second half of the 19th century, the Azoreans “ventured into the ocean with small boats for whaling”, an engine in the economy of several islands, having a greater expression in the islands of Faial and Pico.
Whaling was banned in 1984 by the International Treaties of the International Walling Commission (IWC), which has led to a growth in the Whale Watching industry, which has grown over the last 20 years.
In the Azores, the tradition and culture of whaling persist with pride. The vast whaling heritage has been maintained and recovered since 1997 for cultural and sporting purposes, such as the restoration of old factories, transformed into cultural houses and museums, and the promotion of regattas for whaling boats and sailing at traditional festivities.
The miniatures in wood are a handmade tradition of the Azores, which reconstitute scenarios and instruments of rural life. The whaling boat and the whale are representative of the industry and whaling culture that the Azoreans have great pride.
The Azorean handicraft, through decorative or utilitarian pieces, represents the cultural diversity of the islanders and portrays their day-to-day life. Also the materials used, normally what the earth and sea has to offer, give an image of the habits and customs of the region.
This identity and popular culture is reflected in the handmade toys, pieces that invoke memories and emotions of past childhoods. Wood, clay or even leftover sawdust serve to make small toys that make the delight of the youngest. The horse drawn wagon, the water whistle and the sawdust ball are symbolic objects that continue to challenge the imagination of the little ones.
The horse drawn wagon, made from wood leftovers, appeals to make-believe games imitating typical azorean scenes representing the current agricultural economy in the several islands.
The water whistle, made of clay in regional potteries, attracts the kids with his particular sound, reproducing the singing/whistling of a bird with a simple puff of air.
The sawdust ball made from wood sawdust wrapped in silver paper and held by a thin elastic is an archaic version of a “yo-yo”, but the magic of this simple toy is unmistakable and timeless.
Azorean Christmas cribs have very diverse themes. The figurative ceramics reproduces biblical scenes, but also scenes from real life, bringing an own dynamic that perpetuates the Nativity of Christ.
The traditional “lapinha” Christmas cribs from the Azores dates back to the late 18th century, early 19th century and are normally presented in domes or glass cases. They are decorated with various materials such as moss, flowers, seashells, among others. For its symbolism and beauty they remain exposed in the Azorean homes throughout the year.
“O Menino mija?” (The Boy pees?) – That is the question that imposes itself between December 24th and January 6th when visiting friends and family in a traditional and original way to celebrate the birth of Christ. From house to house, are shared sweets and typical liqueurs, on the handmade ceramics chamber-pot, in a very joyful companionship proper of the spirit of the season.