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How they used to ..........
Process wool Make Paint  -  Make Salt
Travel   -  Irrigate  -  Thresh  -  Mill

Card and Spin Wool
These ladies were demonstrating old skills newly learnt at a small exhibition "Fios de Lar" - 'Threads of the Hearth', in Vila do Bispo.
A course on spinning with a wheel was also underway recently in Odeaxere, but the camera was not to hand.

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Carding Wool Hand Spinning


Made Quicklime
Near these old kilns used to be another, which had been abandoned shortly after its last firing, complete with conical mud roof. This was demolished to make way for the widening of the EN125, the laying of water pipes and urbanisation roads.

Lime kilns.JPG (17505 bytes) Ruins of the Furnas, seen from the EN125.
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This is an archive picture of the last working furnas in the Budens area at Quinta das Furnas.
The kiln was demolished and filled in to make way for water pipes alongside the widened EN125.

Wood was lain for the firing in the bottom, in the square entrances. Above the brickwork chunks of limestone were piled, and the whole sealed in with a mud roof. The fire was set and the kiln cooked away for a few days, and then left to go out. The stone was dehydrated by the heat, and became quicklime. This was anciently used in plague pits, to dehydrate the bodies and cleanse them, by heat, of disease.
When added to water there is a violent, hot reaction. The resulting liquid is used for painting the houses, producing the characteristic whitewash. A benefit is that it also acts as a insecticide. The whitewash can be coloured by the addition of pigments. Traditionally if blue (cobalt) surrounds the windows and doors, evil spirits are kept away. Yellow is used to repel ghosts.

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Keeping out evil spirits Warding off Ghosts

Salt Pans
There are salt pans still in use alongside the EN125, at the eastern end of the bridge spanning the River Arade, at Portimão.
This area is dammed off from the river with a sluice gate. At high tide the sluice is opened, and the sea-water enters the evaporation area. As the water evaporates in the hot weather, the salt crystallises out. The crystals are collected into mounds, and the cycle repeated until the glistening mounds are ready to be collected.
Salt has been evaporated in this fashion since Roman times. Salt Pans are sometimes featured in the Manuelin (early 16th century) style of architecture, such as in this elaborate window of the Convento do Cristo at Tomar.

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West Window, Convento do Cristo, Tomar

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Copyright © 1999 Vale Grifo
Last modified: June 04, 2007