crafts

   Spain has a long tradition of hand crafts ranging from traditional wooden agricultural implements still made in the remoter regions to world famous porcelain and damascene wares. Pottery is a craft practised throughout the country. Many regions have distinctive types and colours, such as the well-known wares of Talavera and Manises. The products of the Lladró porcelain factories are exported worldwide.
   Other widespread crafts are embroidery, wooden furniture, wood carving, and basket work. Furniture ranges from sophisticated modern and reproduction antique to the so-called Castilian furniture (madera de Castilla), rustic styles made in centres such as Bárcena Mayor, Saja, Carmona and Almagro. Wood carving, too, takes many forms: traditional spoons from boxwood in Isaba in the Valle del Ronacal, and, in the Canaries, ornate house balconies and knives with delicately carved handles. Wicker work made from willow and hazel, ranging from baskets and panniers to chairs and armchairs, is a feature of regions such as Extremadura, Cantabria and Castilla-La Mancha.
   Other crafts are somewhat more regionalized. Castilla-La Mancha has a strong tradition in textiles, producing handwoven rugs and tapestries. The Royal Tapestry Factory founded in the eighteenth century in Madrid is the only royal factory to survive, and was still in production in 1996, but with a question mark over its future. Lace is made in Lagartera and especially in Almagro, where bobbin or cushion lace is a speciality. This derives from the sale of the town in the sixteenth century by Charles V to Flemish bankers, who imported lace-makers from Bruges. Wool and linen cloth is made in the Canaries and articles made from esparto grass are among the textiles produced in Andalusia, especially in Granada and Ubeda. Guitars are made by hand in Granada and Toledo, and all kinds of stringed instruments in Casasimarro (Cuenca province), including rebecs (rabeles), early lute-type violins, which are also made in Cantabria.
   Some crafts are extremely localized, such as the making of albarcas, wooden clogs found predominantly in Cantabria, and very distinctive types of agricultural implements, often native to one or two villages, such as the cebilla, a kind of yoke used for controlling animals, garios and garias, different local varieties of wooden fork for winnowing grain, and various kinds of wooden vessels used in milking. Cow bells used to be made in Lamasón in this region and church bells made in Meruelo (Tras-miera) were exported worldwide.
   Some individual cities have such a strong tradition of handcrafts that they have their products named after them. One of these is Granada. In addition to several of the crafts already mentioned, it specializes in embossed and engraved copperware, embossed leatherwork, a very wide range of metalwork, wrought iron, jewellery, mirrors and textiles from the Alpujarras (tejidos alpujarreños), but is noted above all for marquetry and inlaid mother of pearl. Another is Toledo, home to several crafts but famous particularly for its weaponry and for its damascene work, the art of inlaying baser metals such as iron, steel, bronze or copper with intricate gold and silver designs to form articles of great beauty, from rings, brooches and pendants to large plates and pictures.
   Craftwork is undoubtedly a growth industry, keeping pace with demand for and interest in the products of old and new skills. In Extremadura a special Centre for the Promotion of Handcraft has been set up in Cáceres to encourage young craft workers to revive the skills in embroidery, wooden furniture making, wickerwork and gold and silver work which are traditional to the area. Craftwares are sold widely throughout Spain, and in Madrid and other large cities not only are there shops specializing in Toledo wares and Granada wares, but there are branches of Artespaña, the official Spanish government handcraft shop.
   See also: Basque culture; Canarian culture; Catalan culture; Galician culture
   Further reading
   - Feito, J.M. (1977) La artesanía popular asturiana, Salinas: Ayalga (a study of the traditional crafts of Asturias).
   —— (1982) Presente y futuro de las artesanías en la sociedad industrial, Madrid: Ministerio de Industria y Energía (an important report on the future of crafts in an increasingly industrialized society).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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