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  • Thursday, December 27

    Mosaic Souvenirs in Barcelona Shops

    Mosaic Souvenirs Barcelona [enlarge]

    The art of covering different surfaces with tile shards to compose a mosaic is called trencadis and it was widely used by Gaudi and his followers. So far so good. What is it with souvenir shops and 'artists' in Barcelona that tend to evoke such technique by using elements so irrelevant to Catalan culture as flamenco dancers or bulls. This is as ambiguous as pretending that Catalans go around wearing Mexican hats.

    Wednesday, December 12

    Barri de Gracia: Bohemian Lights

    Barri de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

    There are streets that wouldn't say anything to you, streets without a soul, that never leave the slightest trace of memory inside your mind. There are neighborhoods that are so boring, so barren, so sterile, so aseptic that a ghost town looks like Las Vegas next to them. Not so many like those in Barcelona, truth be said. Certainly, the Gracia quarter is not by any chance one of those, not only because of the charming architecture, the cultural activities, the intense night life, the markets, the local stores, the people but also because of the very streets that seem to have a soul of their own. If there is a neighborhood, an ideal kind of neighborhood to get lost into, without a plan, just to wander through the alleys, the squares and fill up your lungs with plenty of vital energy to make yourself feel alive and in tune with your surroundings, that is La Vila de Gracia. As with everything in this world, the sun, its light, the way it comes through the trees, or over the roofs really makes the difference. Of course you can have light elsewhere and it certainly may be as beautiful as any other because we all are under the same star but it is not probable that you have the light, the tiny streets, , the backstreet cafes, the Bohemian atmosphere, the multicultural nature concentrated in such a tiny spot in the middle of a big city. Not that I want you to feel envious about it. I just want you to get to know el Barri de Gràcia in Barcelona cause it's worth every penny and every single minute you spend on it. In the picture,

    Tuesday, December 4

    Stick Dancers or Bastoners: Anklet with Bells Detail

    Stick dancer's ankler with bells [enlarge]

    Catalan folklore feeds on ancient traditions lost in the common past of Mediterranean countries. Stick dance (Cat. Ball de Bastons) was documented for the first time in Catalonia in XII a.d. and then more frequently after XVIII but it has always been part of this region's history besides the fact that it came either from the Greeks, some parts of Asia or even other regions in Europe. The exact origin is uncertain. In the Basque country this dance is very extended as well for example and each region has their own peculiarities when it comes to dresses, sticks or ways of dancing. I am not going to enter into that. Maybe talking about Bastoners or stick dancers as they are today, organized in groups or colles as they have been for the last three centuries according to historical records is easier. To begin with, let me say that there are more than 100 colles all over Catalonia perhaps and about fifty are grouped under the direction of Coordinadora de Ball de Bastons de Catalunya. They all have their own history that is normally linked to the town or neighborhood in which they live. The feet you see in the image, adorned with bells (Cat. picarols) sewn into this piece of cloth called camal or turmellera belong to a stick dancer from a group called Bastoners de Gràcia. I have more pictures of this colla to be posted here. I just want to add for the moment that these colles may be made up of 8,10,12 or 16 dancers. One of them carries a flag with their symbols and the name of the group and usually they also have that name or badge embroidered in their clothes. They carry handkerchiefs around their necks and a colorful waistband over white pants and shirts. Besides they wear espadrilles (Cat. espardenyes). More to know soon.
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