When you visit Lisbon you will probably see many images, graffiti and ceramic pottery dedicated to the andorinha – the swallow. In fact, they are everywhere in the city and even throughout Portugal.
But what is the meaning of this and why do you see swallows in the streets everywhere?
Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro is one of the most famous Portuguese artists, known for his ceramic designs. His best-known work are bowls in the form of cabbage leaves and in the form of vegetables or fruit. In 1884 Bordallo Pinheiro founded a ceramics factory in the city of Caldas da Rainha, about 80 km north of Lisbon, called
Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas da Rainha.
A few years later, in 1891, Bordallo Pinheiro produced ceramic designs that looked like swallows.
Significance of Andorinha
Whoever we visit in Lisbon, we often see one or more swallows on the wall at friends’ homes. Time to find out what the meaning of this little black bird is.
The truth brings us back to the characteristics of the swallow. This bird is a migratory bird that returns year after year to the same place to nest. It is said that it happens because a swallow has only one partner for the rest of its life. So it is no wonder that the swallow is associated with values such as home, family, love and loyalty.
Lovers give each other a ceramic shape of the swallow to symbolize their love. The swallow was introduced more than 100 years ago, but has been integrated into Portuguese houses, and its symbolic value lives on to this day.