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 Pact of Calatayud (2/3)

The monument dedicated to Don Fernando Guanarteme at Calatayud (source: Escultura Urbana en Aragón – Armando González Gil).

Professor Wölfel did not imagine that in 1959, almost three decades after publishing his transcription of the Letter of Calatayud in Anthropos journal, a bitter and almost surreal debate of political and intellectual nature was about to begin on account of his discovery.

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The Essentials (XI): The Guanarteme Report

Idealized statue of Tenesor Semidán or Don Fernando Guanarteme by sculptor Juan Borges Linares, located at Gáldar, Gran Canaria (source: PROYECTO TARHA)

[…] He told them things of Castile and the Court and the great power of their Highnesses and that he did not recognize his lordship as worthy, nor those on this Island because that of their Highnesses was true […][1]Witness Alonso Hernández de Arévalo’s answer to the ninth question of the interrogation.

As we indicated in one of our Essentials, only three merit reports related to the conquest of the Canary Islands are preserved. This time we deal with the second of these important public documents: Don Fernando Guanarteme’s merit report, also known as the Guanarteme Report. (more…)

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The Pact of Calatayud (1/3)

Façade of the church of San Pedro de los Francos, seat of the Aragonese courts in Calatayud. Probably, the Catholic Monarchs received in this temple the delegation of Grandcanarian indigenes that rendered them obedience in May of 1481 (source: Diego Delso – Wikimedia Commons).

The proximity of May 30th, official date of the so-called Day of the Canaries, awakens among lovers of the ancient history of the Archipelago the memory of a controversial event wrapped in the unknowns of the scarcity of documentary records: we speak of what has been known either as the Letter, Peace or Pact of Calatayud.

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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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Two Canarian monarchs

Fragment of folio 134v. of Juan de Carasa y Zapico’s Nobiliario in which interesting data on the conquest of Gran Canaria do appear (source: Biblioteca Digital Hispánica – Biblioteca Nacional de España, catalogue number Mss. 11633).

While we were preparing our essay Los pactos indígenas de Gran Canaria y Tenerife, we ordered from the Biblioteca Nacional de España a digital copy of a genealogical book –Nobiliario– written in the middle of the sixteenth century, being the only known work by Cordoban genealogist Juan de Carasa Zapico. Request was motivated by the intention to firsthand check a piece of information referred to in the latter nineteenth century by Spanish zoologist, explorer and scholar Marcos Jiménez de la Espada (Cartagena, 1831 – Madrid, 1898) in an interesting article entitled La guerra del moro a fines del siglo XV (The Moor War at the End of the Fifteenth Century), we recommend reading.

The manuscript we refer to, a 1630’s late copy, it is kept at the BNE with catalogue number Mss. 11633 and the digitalization we requested it is now available for public, free downloading via Biblioteca Digital Hispánica.

As we say, this work contains some interesting data not appearing in any other source.  The text in question is as follows, as it appears in folio 134v.:

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The Essentials (X): The Accounts on the Conquest of Gran Canaria

In 1966, as a result of an investigation encouraged by Professor Antonio Rumeu de Armas, then doctoral student Miguel Ángel Ladero Quesada published in Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos the transcription of some surprising documents that shed new light on the royal conquest of the Canary Islands which at the same time raised new questions. This valuable information appeared in three expense accounts, a kind of document whose arid and routine nature does not invite to presage any interesting data. Nothing further from reality.

The first account, dated between 1481 and 1482, right in the middle of the conquest of Gran Canaria, was signed by Pedro de Arévalo, supplier of the conquering army. The second relation of expenses was signed by Juan de Frías, Governor of the Palace of Córdoba –not to be confused with his namesake Bishop of Rubicón–. Finally, the third account showed the rubric of Antonio de Arévalo, son of the former, designated payer of the Castilian hosts that participated in the War of Canaria after its ending.

Puerto de Las Nieves (Agaete, Gran Canaria) in 2015.  In the distance, Mount Amagro, a sacred place to the ancient Canarians. On the right, Roque de Las Nieves, known in the past as Antigafo, likely an indigenous toponym. The Tower of Agaete was built at the foot of this geological landmark between July and September of 1481 (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

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Tarha: new database on the Ancient History of the Canary Islands

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QOX4balxGE&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

On the verge of celebrating PROYECTO TARHA‘s first anniversary, we could not but celebrate publishing the first prototype of which we announced as one of …

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Cuatro Puertas: a landscape for Stellarium

The esplanade and the four entrances that precede the main cave of Cuatro Puertas archaeological site (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

In an earlier post, we advocated the creation of a repository of Canarian landscapes of archaeological interest, for use in Stellarium. Today we want to break the ice with a landscape prepared by ourselves, corresponding to the archaeological site of Cuatro Puertas, located in Telde, Gran Canaria. This place was declared in 1972 Historical-Artistic Monument by the Spanish State –together with Cueva Pintada at Gáldar– and Property of Cultural Interest by the Government of the Canaries.

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The Essentials (IX): Fernán Guerra, the man who knew too much

Location of the old manor houses in Teguise, Lanzarote. The streets of the so-called Gran Aldea witnessed the clashes among the neighbors and the henchmen of Inés Peraza and Diego García de Herrera (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

[…] the King […] had ordered him, among other words, to come another day, in the wee hours, to the quarter of the fat bell, through Xerez wicket, to speak with Their Highnesses, and that no one should see him nor take another person with him; […] and when he returned […] he said how His Highness had asked him for the conquest of this island, before a secretary of His; and that he had given it all in writing, and what population and places there were on the island, and the size of the island; and how many people would have to come from Castile, to conquer it and place it under the obedience of Their Highnesses on this island, and what ships would be necessary, and that everything was given in writing; and that […] His Highness had asked him if he knew any ship masters and that he would bring Him some […][2]RUMEU (1990, pp. 677-678). This translation by PROYECTO TARHA..

Let us clarify that this title, sort of a Hollywood one, is not that of the essential we want to show today, but the story contained in it, worthy of a screenplay, justifies this liberty.

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