In a small, almost forgotten corner, of the mirandese plateau, near the border with Spain, there is a little village called Constantim. On one of the streets of that village, in between houses of stone, on the top of a flight of stairs, is a workshop. At the door of that workshop is a man, well in his eighties, that invites us in, with a smile.
Despite his advanced age, Aureliano Ribeiro is still working on that which has been his work during a great part of his life: the Mirandese cape of honor.
The name is misleading. It may lead you to think that these capes were only worn by rich and noble people, or in solemn events. However, even though that was apparently its origin, it ended up being adopted by shepherds for protection against the elements. After all, under this heavy woolen cape, it’s easy to feel protected against rain and snow.
Mr. Aureliano has been making these capes for several years. Sitting at his sewing machine, lit by the light that comes in from the window, he sews the intricate woolen parts that will then be applied in specific places of the cape, near the hood.
As the years went by, he used his experience to start making other things, like small colored woolen pouches that he sells in fairs. One of those pouches, as he makes a point of showing, is a pouch for a shepherd’s flute (or ‘fraita’ as it’s called in this region). On one of the engravings of the wooden flute, it’s possible to see an image of the capes he makes.
Musical instruments make up part of the decoration of mr. Aureliano’s workshop, which hints of his passion for traditional music. His mastery is not limited to the honor capes, he is also a brilliant player of the ‘fraita’ as he makes a point of showing. But that is the subject matter for another story…