Tag Archives: Abreu Galindo

On tarjas and pintaderas (2/2)

The famous dragon-tree at Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife. This tree-like plant (Dracaena draco) was used by ancient Canarians to make the shields that some authors called “tarjas” (fuente: Wikimedia Commons).

In more or less plausible relationship with the pintaderas cited in the first part of this post, ethnohistorical sources mention the use of badges or emblems among Gran Canaria indigenes. Let us quote some relevant texts.

From Antonio Sedeño‘s account:[1]MORALES (1978, pp. 367, 369). Translated from old Castilian by PROYECTO TARHA.

[…]  they brought bucklers taller as a man, made of rough light wood from a tree called dragon. The sword they called Majido and the shield tarja; swords were thin and pointed; they brought their badges painted their way in white and ochre red over the bucklers, played the sword with great skill.

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The statute on killing the girls

indigenas-gc-torriani

Indigenes of Gran Canaria as per recreation by Leonardo Torriani (16th century) (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, folio 36v.)

In thriving societies, population control is a topic that inspires debates subjected to ethical, moral and religious considerations, often distorted by the conjuncture of a welfare state that is supposed to hold an indefinite durability. But in human communities subject to limiting factors, whether temporary or permanent, either of productive –scarceness of drinking water, arable land and / or pastures–, environmental –plagues, epidemics, droughts, floods, fires– or political nature –wars– the survival of these could depend largely on the application of restrictive measures on the birth rate, while it is true that, in many cases, these measures seek to promote the interests of the privileged classes by means of eugenics or selection of individuals deemed most convenient.

In the Canarian historiography, specifically in Gran Canaria, the so-called statute on killing the girls is paradigmatic, so named by its best known reference, Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo:

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The Essentials (IV): Description and History of the Kingdom of the Canary Islands

mapa-canarias-cancer

The notorious map of the Canary Islands related to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, by Engineer Leonardo Torriani in the late sixteenth century (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, folio 8r.)

In 1584, King Philip II of Spain commissioned one of his trusted technicians, Engineer Leonardo Torriani (Cremona, Duchy of Milan, c 1560 -. Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal, 1628), to design and build a keep and a dock on the island of La Palma. This mission, which lasted about two years, was extended by re-hiring the Cremonese in 1587 to carry out a more ambitious project: the inspection of all defensive infrastructure of the Archipelago with the drafting of a comprehensive report on them including expansion and reform proposals.

His stay in the Archipelago lasted about twelve years, until 1596, during which he was provided with the opportunity to acquire a deeper insight on various aspects of its culture and history. Fortunately, in line with the prevailing Baroque style in Italian culture, Torriani decided that a simple technical report would be too arid for the monarch’s taste:

Having been ordered by Your Majesty, in past years, to make the description of the Canary Islands, I felt such small lands, detached from Africa and so lonely, by the smallness of the case, could not be more than scarcely welcomed by You. And so, finding in the monuments of letters how to embellish them, I determined myself to add the story and events that happened on them, until our times, with the views and drawings of their strongholds.[2]TORRIANI (1959), p. 1. This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

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The death of Guillén Peraza

Possible remains of Guillén Peraza, marked number 4, discovered during archaeological excavations conducted by Professors Bertila Galván Santos and Juan Francisco Navarrro Mederos in the Church of the Assumption, San Sebastián de La Gomera (source: PÉREZ (2005), p. 294).

Between 1979 and 1980, a team of archaeologists led by Professors Bertila Galván Santos and Juan Francisco Navarro Mederos executed an excavation of urgency in the Church of the Assumption (San Sebastián de La Gomera), a building that would be subjected to a major reform. At the deepest level of the burials located in the former Main Chapel, beneath the remains of other dead, the experts discovered the skeleton of a young man who had a lateral skull fracture and who was lying in an oblique orientation relative to that of the temple’s nave. The presence of a blanca –a Castilian coin minted during the reign of Enrique IV– at a level just above that of the remains allowed to date the burial as possible before 1471. Fragments of Andalusian tiles and stone-and-mud rubble ventured the existence of an ancient chapel, oriented differently from the current church, which would explain the unusual position of the body.[3]NAVARRO (1984), pp. 588-590, 593-594.

Even without the modern techniques of genetic identification, evidence suggested a name in an almost incontestable way: that young man was likely to be Guillén Peraza, only legitimate son of Fernán Peraza the Elder.

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The Essentials (III): History of the Conquest of the Seven Islands of Gran Canaria

Front cover of the 1848 edition of the History of the Conquest of the Seven Islands of Gran Canaria, by Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo (source: Memoria Digital de Canarias).

It is true that many have claimed telling something about these islands; but they chose whatever suited their matter, and some of them, not having full news about, went brief and although what they said was very little, […] it has been a great argument to mean that not so low karats was the renown of the Isles of Canaria […].

Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo (Prologue to the History of the Conquest of the Seven Islands of Gran Canaria) –1848 Edition–

Leaving little room for doubt, this is perhaps the best known and influential work of the Canarian historiography.

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