We’re all accustomed with the bearing scene: Mary, and her husband, Joseph, the baby Jesus, some shepherds, sheep, some added capricious (but familiar) elements. But in Barcelona and the blow of Catalonia, the arena appearance an abnormal guest: El Caganer, who is unceremoniously activity “number two” in the background.
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The acceptable Catalan Caganer. Image credits: Roeland P / Wikipedia.
El Caganer (literally “the Defecator”), has been a close attitude for centuries — but its aboriginal history is beneath clear. It’s cryptic absolutely what its agent is, but it seems to accept entered the bearing at some point during the 17th or 18th aeon — during an aesthetic accepted alleged the Baroque. The Baroque followed the Renaissance appearance and acclimated contrast, grandeur, and animated detail to affect awe in the beholder.
However, during the Baroque, some artworks additionally accepted aberrant realism, and abounding Baroque paintings and sculptures affection awful astute scenes from day to day life. If you’re apprehensive what this has to do with our Caganer acquaintance — what is added accustomed than abating yourself?
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In their book El Caganer, authors Jordi Arruga and Josep Mañà explain:
“This was a time characterised by acute realism… all of which relied heavily on descriptions of bounded activity and customs. Here, alive altitude and homelife were acclimated as aesthetic themes.”
At the time, abundant like now, bodies acclimated all sorts of abstracts and capacity to adorn the bearing scene, as able-bodied as altered types of figurines. At some point, El Caganer entered the scene: cutting a white shirt and a archetypal Catalan hat, barretina, he is usually in the accomplishments of the bearing scene.
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However, the acumen why this accurate baby ashore and added in acceptance has to do with commodity altered altogether: for centuries, the abstraction of defecating has been associated with acceptable affluence and acceptable health.
“Excrement equals fertilisation equals money equals luck and prosperity. Or so say the anthropologists,” said historian Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, emeritus assistant at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University. The bounded accepted behavior went so far as to say that houses after a Caganer would accept bad luck.
According to the ethnographer Joan Amades, it was a:
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“[..]customary amount in bearing scenes [pessebres] in the 19th century, because bodies believed that this drop [symbolically] fertilized the arena of the bearing scenes, which became abundant and ensured the bearing arena for the afterward year, and with it, the bloom of anatomy and accord of apperception appropriate to accomplish the bearing scene, with the joy and beatitude brought by Christmas abreast the hearth. Placing this baby in the bearing arena brought acceptable luck and joy and not accomplishing so brought adversity.”
Walk about any Christmas bazaar in Catalonia and you’ll acquisition endless figurines, as able-bodied as abounding variations featuring acclaimed people. An estimated 30,000 pieces are awash every year.
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