Craftsmanship of Estremoz clay figures is recognized as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The Craftsmanship of Portugal’s Estremoz clay figures was just added to UNESCO´s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Estremoz Clay Figures, or “Bonecos de Estremoz,” are unique handcrafted artisanal clay figurines, which date back to the 17th century. Their unique look and features make them immediately identifiable.
The modeling process of Estremoz Figures lasts several days: the elements of the figures are assembled before being fired in a kiln and then painted by the artisan and covered with a colorless glaze. The clay figures are dressed in the regional outfits of Alentejo or Christian iconography. Clay figures reflect spirit, humor, work and traditions of the Alentejo region.
The art of crafting clay figures is still quite active. Knowledge and skills are passed on from generation to generation in family workshops, which means that guests can get the whole experience of handcrafting clay figures in authentic workshops with the artisans, as well as by the Center for the Appreciation and Safeguarding of the Estremoz Clay Figure.
Estremoz has a rich cultural heritage, including its castle with its medieval walls and the former thirteenth-century citadel, which now houses the Pousada de Portugal Rainha Santa Isabel.
Estremoz became particularly famous for the quarrying and trading of its high-quality white marble.
Equally famous are the region's red clays, which gave rise to the traditional figures that are found in all the city's craft shops.