The Museum’s Collections


In the past, flax was sown, harvested and treated by traditional processes. Linen was then spun on the distaff and woven on the domestic loom, usually installed in one of the two dependences of the rural household units: the bedroom or the kitchen. Spun and woven in the household was a legacy from parents to children.

With the movement of industrialization, habits and the rural economy changed, and traditional linen activities were overtaken by industrial-based production and gradually became extinct.

Flax treatment operations were popularly called "flax torments". This designation is fully justified if we take into account the countless and arduous tasks that needed to be done.

After the linen was spun on the distaff, the yarn "cobs" were put in skeins with the aid of an instrument called “windle”. After this operation, it was necessary to pass the yarns of these skeins to clews, an operation that was carried out on this instrument: the winding frame. In the construction of this instrument, chestnut-tree or pine wood was usually used.

Credits: Madeira Ethnographic Museum