Divina Pastora Lace (Sergipe state)
This project begun in 1999 with the creation of an Association formed by 122 lace makers who have been practicing Irish-style needlepoint lace making for various generations. The activity was on the verge of extinction, particularly because of the conditions of poverty experienced by the artisans and their families, due to widespread unemployment in the region. Sales in the local and regional markets had declined drastically and the lace makers became dependent on intermediaries, who sold these products for a large profit margin.
ArteSol contributed decisively to the process of recuperating the techniques and the high quality typical of Divina Pastora’s lace. It also promoted the rearticulation and strengthening of small groups of local producers.
The core element of this project was to support the creation of the lace makers’ association, which successfully raised the working capital needed to ensure the artisans’ autonomy in developing their work. It also became an administrative and management centre capable of negotiating directly with suppliers and buyers, as well as establishing partnerships with support institutions. ArteSol’s project also supported various workshops with the aim of transmitting this knowledge from local masters to young women.
At Divina Pastora lace making forms a central aspect of women’s identity. A positive consequence of this project has been the empowerment of lace makers in the domestic environment. The national and international recognition of their work enabled them to contribute more substantially to raise their families’ income and their living standards. Furthermore, they became stronger in taking decisions on domestic issues in a place where men often experience the contradiction of being chronically unemployed and yet expected to perform their role as family heads.
Divina Pastora lace making has received various awards and distinctions. The National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN) officially registered in 2008 the knowhow of these lace makers as Brazilian Intangible Cultural Heritage. In 2012, the National Institute of Industrial Property assigned their product an Indication of Origin, under the geographic name of ‘Divina Pastora.’ This was also one of the 11 associations supported by ArteSol to receive the SEBRAE Top 100 award in 2009.
Partnerships of the project:
Funding partners: Ministry of National Integration; SEBRAE, CAIXA, BID (Interamerican Development Bank)
Supporters: Association of Research and Scientific Studies in Administration – APEC; National Folklore and Popular Culture Center / IPHAN; Edson Carneiro Folklore Museum, SEBRAE; Municipality of Divina Pastora.
By Antonio A. Arantes | Member of the Board of Directors of ArteSol – Artesanato Solidário, Brazil
Translation by David Rodgers