Friday, May 24, 2013

A mulher do Capote

This cape has always intrigued me.  I never understood it and was dying to know more.  So off to research I went.  Here's what I uncovered.

I'm sure most of you have seen these are your Azorean relatives homes:



The liquor bottles designed to represent the capote e capelo.
I always thought they were so funny looking, but it was a tradition, and I never thought twice about it.  Until now.... (side note: these bottles are selling for HUNDREDS of dollars on Ebay.  Who would have thought?)

"A large cape that covered a woman's figure, allowing only a glimpse of her face, the origin of the “capote-e-capelo” is controversial. Some say that it came from Flanders and others state that it is an adaptation of mantles and cowls that were fashionable in Portugal in the 17th and 18th centuries. Regardless, for centuries the “capote-e-capelo” was a typically Azorean woman's garment used in Faial. Varying from island to island in the cut of the cape and the arrangement of the cowl, Faial had the extravagant shape of a wedge resting on the shoulders and which jutted out in front for over a palm. The common characteristic of the “capote-e-capelo” was that it was made of a strong, heavy electric-blue cloth that lasted for generations and was handed down from mothers to daughters. The women of the Azores stopped wearing the “capote-e-capelo” around the 1930's. "

There is a description of the Azorean capote in chapter V of Mark Twain’s “The innocents Abroad”
"Here and there in the doorways we saw women with fashionable Portuguese hoods on. This hood is of thick blue cloth, attached to a cloak of the same stuff, and is a marvel of ugliness. It stands up high, and spreads abroad, and is unfathomably deep. It fits like a circus tent, and a woman‘s head is hidden away in it like the man’s who prompts the singers from his tin shed in the stage of an opera [….] a woman can’t go within eight points of the wind with one of them on; she has to go before the wind or not at all."

I've gathered some photos of some of them for you to see the various shape and sizes.







This photo shows Faial on the left and Sao Miguel on the right.  Notice how different there are.  From all the research I've done, it does seem that Faial had the biggest Capote out of everyone.
If you would like to see more of these old photos, and some from a museum housing some of these, click here.  Mulher Do Capote

If you happen to come across anymore photos or history, let us know!  We would love to add them to this.



5 comments:

  1. Heya! I'm big into Azorean/Portuguese tradition. I remember growing up with these too! My parents are from Sta Maria. I also tried looking up the claim of the garb being from "Flanders," but came up empty. My family always told us about the strong influence of the arabs (especially in Sta Maria since it's the oldest) and I always thought it was from that. I only read about Flanders from that one blurb on the web. What do you think? I wonder how we can figure it out!

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  2. Wow - am really enjoying your blog - we just got back from Sao Miguel and hope to return next year - the scenery is spectacular but the WARM Azorean people won over our hearts forever! Interesting about the "capote"

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  3. I asked my inlaws about this. They come from the island of Terceira. They said that women would wear these capes to go about the island in disguise. Especially useful when conducting unsavory business I guess.

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