The moliceiros are a great part of the colourfulness of Aveiro Lagoon. Used in the past to collect sea weed – “moliço” – they are nowadays a tourism icon of the city. When fully loaded, this boat could take up to 5 tons.
There are two essential elements that characterise these typical boats: the colourful décor and the elegance of its pointy edges of the bow and stern. They are normally 15,7 meters long and 2,6 meters wide. The moliceiros were built in Murtosa, Vagueira and Salreu.
These admirable paintings, outlined in black, are a true form of popular wisdom. The monumental part of the boat is the bow and that’s where the visual language is the richest. In the centre of the panel there is almost always a monarch or an equestrian figure surrounded by flowers. In the central part of the boat there is always an inscription related, or not, to the drawn motif or the boat’s builder name, place and date of construction. In the stern the available space is more limited but the attention to detail is still great with suggestive depictions of popular devotion, military, girls and heartthrobs and regional jobs.
The panels motifs are very diverse with religious and historical depictions, as well as work and daily life subjects. Many Moliceiros have paintings of erotic nature. These absolutely stunning drawings outline the boat owner’s personal preferences and skills, sometimes with a clear understanding of specific techniques, other times the creations are poetic, where the lack of formal knowledge is supplanted by an emotional strength and profound emotional force and sincerity, resulting in naif but still very beautiful paintings.