As this generational Portuguese-American Rancho project sets forth its goals of capturing a generational aspect to this uniquely immigrant experience here in the United States, this next family showcases three generations of women. When we bring our children into the fold of a rancho, our hope is that they will continue this tradition, and pass it on to their children. To keep our Portuguese heritage alive outside of our native country. Casa do Ribatejo in Newark, NJ is a fairly young rancho, started only in April of 2005. This beautiful lady, now grandmother to this gorgeous baby girl, is the only founding member still active within the group.
This family is originally from Mealhada, Portugal – far from Ribatejo; but what drew them to this particular group was its originality, both in musical form, and trajes, or traditional costumes. A majority of the grupos folcloricos you find state-side, are representative of the area of Minho in Portugal. Other varieties of folklore groups are not as commonly observed here.
While trajes Minhotos are generally noted for their embellishment, and uniformity dancer to dancer, the traje Ribatejano is unique person-to-person. The blouses are typically cotton, in a variety of cotton patterns, sometimes worn with a vest on top. The skirts range from heavier pleated, pieced patterns, to lighter materials worn with a pocketed apron on top. Personalized handkerchiefs sit in these pockets, waiting to be waved at the send-off at the end of one’s performance. Oh, and the undergarments! The underskirts and pantaloons are ruffled, with cotton eyelets, and satin ribbons. The crocheted footless leggings, or alternatively, full length stockings are each worn with specific trajes. Their shoes are equally different, yet both simple, in contrast to the embellished, embroidered socos minhotos.
As with most ranchos, Casa do Ribatejo has both the traje Domingueiro – the fancier outfits worn for church and festive days, and the trabalhador, or daily work attire. As you can see from these two, we photographed both to give equal attention to the many facets of traditional Portuguese clothing.
It is a ritual, watching someone put on their traje. Helena shows me her embroidered handkerchief, which has a small hole worn in an edge from many years of handling. Her daughter wonders if we can cover it up or photoshop it. I say not to worry, this wear shows the love and pride in wearing these garments over and over again, it means something. Don’t patch it up Helena! I see emotion and joy as I capture these images with them. I ask mom to tie her daughter’s scarf around her hair, it is a simple act, but one of tenderness, and motherliness. It connects them, as this project aims to do in exploring this tie within generations.
Visit Casa do Ribatejo’s Facebook Page here.
To participate in this project celebrating the Portuguese-American Rancho, please visit the below page for more information:
Sofia Ribeiro Photography is a New Jersey Maternity Photographer, New Jersey Newborn Photographer, New Jersey Baby & Child Photographer, and New Jersey Family Photographer based in Northern New Jersey, serving North and Central NJ, including but not limited to Bergen County, Essex County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Morris County, Monmouth County, Hunterdon County, Middlesex County, and Warren County. We also serve New York City and Staten Island.