The palm business came about with the need to pack figs, almonds and carobs for transport; it then began to be used in other everyday objects, in fishing, and for decorative purposes. The treadmill became popular due to the lack of furniture in the most humble dwellings.

Originally, the raw material came from the interior of the Algarve, although currently, due to the scarcity of the plant in this region, palm leaves began to be imported from the south of Spain, where palm production was transformed into an industry.

This element is one of the identifying factors of the “Algarvian Intagible Culture”, for the use of an abundant plant component in the region – the dwarf palm (Chamaerops humilis), an indigenous plant characteristic of the Barrocal and Serra – and for its ancient uses for fishing gear, house cleaning and agricultural products storage.

An early start in the arts of the enterprise (so called because it was once paid according to the amount produced per day), with the girls helping their mothers to braid the palm into long ribbons, in what was an important complementary activity of land work. The dwarf palm, also called the broom palm, is more common in the limestone terrain of the Barrocal. Palms are harvested between June and September and air dried. They are then ripped by the ribs into strips and sprinkled with water, to moisten and become soft, a few hours before starting work. The basis of the empreita work is the braid performed with the interweaving of the strips. To sew the ribbons into shape to the desired object, the baracinha (a thin string made of palm) was used, also used in brooms to join the palm leaves in a cane handle.

Currently, the work is carried out almost entirely for decorative purposes, being one of the tourist attractions in the region. There is also a greater diversity of materials used in the work, such as plastics and other recycled materials.



Algarve Imaterial. (2022). Empreita e Cana. Accessed on 17th February, 2022. URL: