The Traditional Minho Sweetheart Handkerchiefs
Sweetheart handkerchiefs, a unique symbol of audacity, now portrayed through jewellery.
OXUM-Atelier de Joalharia is inspired by the purity and simplicity of the “Sweetheart Handkerchiefs” (“Lenços de Namorados do Minho”). They are hand embroidered by hand on a square-shaped piece of linen or cotton.
The origin of the “Sweetheart Handkerchief” tradition dates back to the 17th century, but they were most popular halfway between the 19th and 20th centuries. In Northern Portugal, in the Minho region, women dared to break the rules and to be the masters of their own destiny. They broke free from their daily routines and rebelled against a society that oppressed them. They dared to publicly express their affections through embroidered handkerchiefs: they confessed their dreams, their amorous desires, and made romantic declarations.
Most of these women were primarily illiterate, and they wrote just as they spoke. Their verses are a reflection of the time: misspellings, men’s emigration to Brazil, military service and the fear that the city’s temptations could take their beloveds away from them.
The motifs used in their embroidered handkerchiefs are full of symbolism: life and the perpetuation of the human species (branches), love (heart), the union of two people (the key that unites two hearts), loyalty (dog and pigeon), and nostalgia (messenger pigeon and ship), just to name a few.
This tradition is now part of the Portuguese cultural heritage and “Lenços de Namorados do Minho” (Minho Sweetheart Handkerchiefs) is a certified handicraft product, with a registered trademark through the Geographical Identification (GI) belonging to Adere-Minho (Certification Body).
OXUM creates Audaçias*: much more than jewellery, they are stories!
* in order to maintain the spirit of Lenços de Namorados, Audaçias is misspelled; the correct spelling is audácias.