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Siurells as Nativity Scenes

I like Mallorcan Siurells or Xiurells, hand-made white clay whistles decorated subtly with green and red markings. During the Christmas period, we can find Siurell figures and animals molded into Betlems (Nativity Scenes). I find these crèches quite endearing. Not much is known about the origins of these clay figurines; all I know is captured in my earlier post entry.

Robert Graves, the author whose house/museum I visited the other day in Deià, has quite a different explanation to the Siurell phenomenon. He relates the clay whistle to the act of winnowing and farming cum harvesting activities, here in Mallorca. There is an interesting excerpt about Xiurells in his book, The White Goddess (1948), a non-fiction book well worth reading. Please allow me to briefly quote Robert Graves:

Furbis, flabis, flebis – ‘whistle shrill, weep long’.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 6th, 2011. The time was 13:46:37. The photo (bottom) was taken in Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. December 15th, 2011. The time was 12:23:56.

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