Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hobnobbing with Spanish virgins

When talking about the celebrations of Lent in Spain, there always seems to be a dichotomy between two traditions: the Castilian (Castellano) and the Andalusian (Andaluz). By default, I am more familiar with the Castilian custom because I am studying in Valladolid, the capital of Castile and Leon. But this spring, I was able to go to Seville, the capital of Andalusia, to witness its Holy Week processions. Both traditions are world-famous but are remarkably different in many ways.

Castilian processions tend to be very silent and reverent. Of course, noise cannot be avoided, what with all camera flashes and brass bands plying the procession routes. But those watching the processions are always cautioned to remain quiet especially when an image passes by. It is also in Castile that the processions that retell the story of the Passion can be found. Most Castilian processional images are polychromed wood carved by the greats of Spanish baroque sculpture, such as De Juni, Alonso Berruguete, Gregorio Fernández and the like. (Picture: Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, Señora de Valladolid, on her Holy Tuesday procession)

Andalusian processions, in turn, are more festive. It is very common for the people to shout "¡Guapa!" (beautiful) everytime their favorite image passes by. Every now and then, a random singer will come out of the balcony to sing the saeta to the passing image, usually because s/he is a devotee. Andalusian processions don't generally tell a story, for there are many images of the Virgin and of Jesus, that are basically the same. Almost all are made to be dressed up and many of them are works of either new artists or anonymous sculptors. (Picture: Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza de Macarena, Señora de Sevilla, during her procession on the madrugá)

No comments: