Category Archives: Etnografía

From Guise's side. From Ayose's side

The idealised statues of Guise and Ayose, a work by Lanzarote-born sculptor Emiliano Hernández García, standing on the namesake viewpoint in the municipality of Betancuria in Fuerteventura (source: Luc. T / Wikimedia Commons).

In honor of my father’s family: my great-grandfather Matías Casanova “El Charco”, my grandmother, Susana Casanova Darias, and my great-aunt Manolita. From Vega de Tetir. “From Guise’s side.”

That Guise and Ayose were the names of the two maho chieftains who ruled Fuerteventura island at the time of the conquest by Jehan de Béthencourt and Gadifer de La Salle is something well known in Canarian popular culture. Such is so that the latter has been a relatively frequent anthroponym imposed among males born in the Canary Islands since the mid-1970s, a time when recognition and homage to precolonial cultural and historical roots began to be claimed with some force after being silenced for a long time.

But a much less known fact is that both names survived the European conquest for four centuries without losing an iota of their everyday nature. And even more surprising is that they did not do it in the field of toponymy, a common refuge for forgotten words, but in a very unusual way: the administrative field.

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"The said Canarians could not live": Return to the Pact of Calatayud

A fragment of folio 1v. of the RGS-1515-01-32 manuscript containing a copy of the so-called Letter of Calatayud (source: Archivo General de Simancas)

[…] the said Canarians could not live without coming to our reigns of Castile and Leon to trade […]

(Letter of Calatayud, 30th May 1481)

INVITED AUTHORESS: CECILIA CÁCERES JUAN

This 30th of May, “Day of the Canaries”, we celebrate the fact that Canarians did indeed live and thrive without trading with Castile. They live and will live.

In a single sentence from the so-called Pact or Letter of Calatayud, signed by the Catholic Monarchs and an anonymous guanarteme –Grandcanarian chieftain– the 30th of May 1481, the downfall of autarchy and dismantling of the polities that sustained the life and society of the ancient Canarians is laid bare.

This short article will examine the effects of the pact on Canarian identity through a subjective analysis of relevant documents and in relation to the theme and ethos of the above quoted sentence. To contextualize this extract, we should consider certain misconceptions regarding the pact, such as the belief that this pact gave origin to the Day of the Canaries, or “Día de Canarias”.

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Tanausu: Benahoare's Hero

“Tanausú, Tierra y Nobleza” (Tanausu, Land & Nobility) (2016), an idealized picture embellishing the facade of Casa de la Cultura Braulio Martín Hernández in El Paso (La Palma), a work by Lanzarote-born muralist Matías Mata, nicknamed Sabotaje al Montaje (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

For La Palma, our Benahoare, nowadays in such a need of strength and courage.

In the traditional historical memory of the Canaries, individuals belonging to the precolonial island societies who faced the European Conquest with the technological and numerical disadvantage inherent to their way of life, environment, material resources and demographics who sometimes chose to sacrifice their own lives rather than surrender are bestowed the role of true people’s heroes regardless of whether the referred subjects enjoyed any sort of privileged social status.

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Conquest of the Seven Ysles of Canaria (1687) : Tomás Marín de Cubas : A Critical Edition by Antonio M. López Alonso

PLEASE FIND BELOW SOME LINKS TO MEDIA INTERVIEWS ON THIS BOOK.

EXPLANATORY NOTE: Due to some incoming enquiries, we must stress as indicated in this post that ours is not a reissue of the 1694 copy-manuscript by Marín de Cubas, but the first edition of his 1687 unpublished manuscript.

We are very pleased to announce the publication in LeCanarien Ediciones of our second printed work; the first and long-awaited edition of one of the fundamental works for the knowledge of the ancient history of our Archipelago: CONQUEST OF THE SEVEN YSLES OF CANARIA by Canarian physician and historian Tomás Marín de Cubas.

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The Essentials (XIII): Alfonso de Palencia's Fourth Decade and his lost work on Canarian customs and religions

An excerpt from folio 548v. of the Universal Vocabulary in Latin and in Romance (1490) by Alfonso de Palencia where he declares having written a work on the customs and religions of the Canarian people (source: Biblioteca Virtual de Andalucía / PROYECTO TARHA -boxes-).

Unfortunately all this does not make up for the lack of Alonso de Palencia’s work, a loss that we will always deplore due to the the first-hand Canarian news it would provide and for being the first Castilian information on Gran Canaria’s indigenous customs.

Prof. Juan Álvarez Delgado (1963) –Alonso de Palencia (1423-1492) y la historia de Canarias, p. 77–[1]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

He negotiated in the name of the Catholic Monarchs the capitulations preceding the royal invasion of Gran Canaria, supervised and coordinated the logistics of the conquest expeditions put under the command of Juan Rejón in 1478 and 1479, and shortly thereafter personally proposed Pedro de Vera as the most qualified man to end the war of Canaria, entrenched from the beginning by the interpersonal quarrels of the Castilian captains and the strong indigenous resistance.

With this background, no one would suspect that Alonso or Alfonso de Palencia (Palencia, 1423 – Seville, 1492) was the author of the first monographic study devoted entirely to the culture and religion of the ancient Canarians. And it is true that a brief analysis of this character and his extensive literary production makes it hard to find in the Castile of his time a better connected and prepared individual to face a work of this kind.

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Taxanicuvidagua: The Pass of the Staff

Risco Faneque, in Agaete (Gran Canaria), one of the highest sea cliffs in the world (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

Fortunately, the project […] that aimed to turn the valley into a tourist exploitation has been paralyzed for the time being. However this threat, anti-ecological and made of irrational modernization, looms over what is called to be an archaeological-natural park, and not one of those horrifying tourist condensation spots.

Celso Martín de Guzmán (The ethnohistorical sources and their relationship with the archaeological surroundings of the Guayedra Valley and Tower of Agaete (Gran Canaria), 1977)[1]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA. 

To the people of Agaete, Artenara and La Aldea (Gran Canaria) in support of their advocacy of their natural, cultural and historical heritage.

One of the most important legacies the ancient Canarians left to us is the rich indigenous toponymy treasured by the Islands. The cause of this survival would have to be found in the innocuousness of these place names from the perspective of the European invaders, to whom only the customs related mainly to the islanders’ religious cults and rituals would be intolerable, being obviously incompatible with the imposition of Christianity.

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The Ganigo of Guadajume (1/2): A colactation pact on La Gomera?

Idealized statue of Pedro Hautacuperche located at Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, by sculptor Luis Arencibia. He is holding in his right hand the Ganigo of Guadajume, already broken, and in his left hand the weapon with which he killed Fernán Peraza the Younger, giving rise to the uprising of La Gomera in 1488 (source: Erik Baas / Wikimedia Commons).

To the Gomeran people, brave and beautiful, with love and respect.

November 1488. A man dressed as a woman falls murdered in the vicinity of a cave. Soon after, on the wings of an ancestral whistling language, the echo of the deep ravines on La Gomera carried a war cry: “The Ganigo of Guadajume is broken now”.

The victim was Fernán Peraza the Younger, Castilian lord of the Island and Doña Inés Peraza’s favorite son, who a few months before had constituted in the second of her male offspring the entail of the Seigneury of the Isles of Canaria, which had been de facto extinct for more than ten years before. The executioner, Pedro Hautacuperche, a pastor who shepherded his flock on Plan de Asisel, in front of the imposing massive Agando Rock.

Tradition among Gomeran natives states that theirs was the only one of the Canary Islands that was never conquered by Europeans. But the truth is that the death of the Castilian chief was met by one of the most cruel retaliations carried out on the Archipelago ever.

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The Pact of Calatayud (3/3)

Northeast view of Gáldar Mountain, Gran Canaria. Was it by surprise or his own free will, in an unknown cave near the ancient indigenous capital Guanarteme Tenesor Semidan was captured by Castilians (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

In this third and last part of our series devoted to the so-called Pact of Calatayud we are dealing with one of the mysteries this event raises: the identity of the anonymous guanarteme who paid obedience to the Catholic Monarchs. Let us note that, for the moment, the lack of official documentary evidence –starting with the petition letter presented by the Grandcanarian embassy arrived to the Aragonese town in May 1481– makes it impossible at present to dispel such anonymity. However, in this post we present a list of four names we consider to be the most likely candidates to embody this enigmatic character.

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Mareta: the elusive origin of an imported word

Parque de la Mareta in 2016. This playground for the children was built upon the old Gran Mareta’s site at Teguise, Lanzarote (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

The Spanish we speak in the Canary Islands owes its exceptional wealth not only to the contributions of the different languages that make it up –fundamentally Castilian, Portuguese, French and Island Tamazight– but also to the preserving action that the relative physical isolation has given to the Archipelago for centuries, unfortunately put in danger in relatively recent times by a phenomenon that, in personal opinion, we tend to interpret as the result of a desire for recognition and modernity in some misunderstood ways.

It is precisely this preservation that has allowed the survival of numerous archaesms that have disappeared, in whole or in part, from their original languages and, as an example, today we want to offer a modest and brief study of a term closely linked to the field of island agriculture and society. We refer to the word mareta.

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The "Aicá Maragá" and "Mimerahaná" dirges

Promo poster of the Vanishing Voices concert, an initiative by teacher Isaac Stone (source: The Big Idea).

Every day brings its own surprise and that of some days ago was very good news: Isaac Stone, young musical director of New Zealand choir Supertonic and a music teacher at a public high school, Tawa College, is carrying out an ambitious project; a concert in which the choir he leads will perform vocal pieces chosen from seven cultures of the whole world with a common nexus: to be written in both endangered and extincted languages. Vanishing Voices: Music honouring our endangered languages includes lyrics in Australian Aboriginal, Inuit, Navajo, Welsh, Nahuatl, Maori, and… Guanche.

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