Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cane mats to sun-dry figs.

Down south, Algarve, in my cousin´s farm near Bensafrim, and we are getting ready to sun-dry figs. I was given the task of weaving a cane mat for the purpose. The mats were usually made from canes or from wild fennel, and instead of the ropes we used, woven with braided esparto grass. It was fun figuring out how to make the mats. The stones that my cousin´s dad used to make his mats were still lying around, one still had the braided esparto grass tied around it. The fact that so many mats still survived made the task of studying the details and measurements a lot easier. That said, the mat still turned out a little shorter than the 3 meters that had been planned. 

The canes were cut back in October, or thereabouts, and left to dry. Last week I started cutting them, and today in 2 x 3hour sessions the mat was finished. Now we need the figs. The photo of the figs drying was taken last year. The mats are layed out during the day on the threshing-floor and rolled at night to protect the figs from the night´s moisture. A group of mats sun-drying figs like this is called an "Almeixar" and could be anywhere flat an sunny: a terrace; a threshing-floor; out in a field; etc. This last photo shows what an Almeixar looked like.

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