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Peasants in usual costume

Ancient traditional costumes of Madeira


Peasants in usual costume  in Madeira around 1820 - engraving reproduced and restored by © Norbert Pousseur
Madeira - ~1820 - Peasants in usual costume


engraving and text extracted from
History of Madeira - 1821 (from my library)
Madeira was then under British domination

The Peasants in their general costume

This representation offers a very pleasing idea of the inferior state of rural life in Madeira, and, with a trifling addition from fancy, might serve almost for a scene in Arcadia. Music, wherever it is exercised with any degree of skill, gives a certain polish to the most inferior stations of life. The peasants of this island, almost without exception, play on the guitar, or some stringed instrument of a similar construction. They always sing at their labour, and generally compose, as they proceed, the words to the music, possessing, as it appears, the extemporaneous faculties of the improvisatory of Italy. Some of their songs are remarkable for a charming simplicity ; while their national airs display uncommon spirit and appropriate animation.

When Arcadia’s seen to shine
In painter’s art, or poet’s line,
We see how much the scene receives
From what the air of music gives.
The shepherd’s pipe, the rural song,
That sounds the rocks and woods among,
Whether it soothes the passing hour,
Or tells of love’s imperious power ;
The music does its notes employ,
To lessen care or heighten joy.
Such were the shepherd's tender lays,
Which poets tell, of former days :
In other strains, in humbler verse,
The island's music we rehearse.
Here while the peasant strikes the strings,
‘Neath its green shades, or by its springs,
And his own measur'd fancies sings,
Labour itself is seen to smile,
And mock the weary hours of toil.
At cottage door, or 'neath the tree,
The sounds of rural minstrelsy,
At evening hour salute the ear :
The passing stranger stops to hear ;
And feels it as a blessing given,
Th' indulgent boon of bounteous Heaven,
Of nature the unstudied lay,
To cheer the labourer on his way ;
Who feels, although that way be long,
'Tis always shorten'd by a song.


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Traditional costumes Next : Costume peculiar to the Inhabitants of the Western

This engraving of Madeira people can be enlarged by zoom,
the original measuring 17x22 cm



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