The Shoemakers’ Monument

Mallorca has a long tradition of shoemaking. We would normally think of Inca as the island’s major leather and show town, but Llucmajor also had an important shoe industry, right up to the 1970s. The town commemorates the brave shoemakers and cobblers of Llucmajor with a large monument in honour of the Sabaters (shoemakers). The sculpture was crafted in Piedra de Santanyí (sandstone) by Tomás Vila in 1963.

The shoe industry in Llucmajor has since almost completely vanished. Where once the majority of working people in Llucmajor were employed by the shoe industry, now tourism is the biggest employer.

Let’s see if one day the waiters, bellhops and room maids of Llucmajor will get their own monument as well. Somehow I doubt it.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 17th, 2011. The time was 12:54:34.

The Shoemakers’ Monument

The Fires de Llucmajor

The Fires de Llucmajor are a pretty big thing here in Mallorca. The Ferias are now in their 465th year, having started way back in 1546. There are four Fires and one Firó, with a whole string of activities from now until October 23rd.

Yesterday, Llucmajor celebrated the Dia de Sant Miquel and the Primera Fira. Sadly, some of the activities during the afternoon were soaked in strong rainfalls.The Segona Fira will be held on Sunday, October 2nd, hopefully in better weather conditions, and the Tercera Fira, on October 9th. The Darrera Fira is scheduled for October 16th, and the Firó, for October 17th. Today, the XI Fira Artesana will be held and tonight, a Rutapa Tapas tour. Saturday, October 8th, the Copa de Mallorca Tir de Fona (stone slinging competition) will be held, as well as a congregation of Ball de Bot troupes from Llucmajor and visiting pueblos. The giants will hold a Trobada gathering and parade on October 9th, to be followed by a Correfoc (firerun). An equestrian presentation is scheduled for October 15th.

A detailed Programa de Ferias 2011 (programme schedule) is available on the Internet. Should you be visiting Llucmajor during this year’s Fires, I would advise you to visit the impressive Claustre de Bonaventura with its spectacular wall paintings and the unique roof tiles exhibition on the first floor. You may have to ask the friendly receptionist to open the exhibition hall for you.

The photo was taken in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 29th, 2011. The time was 14:43:32.

The Fires de Llucmajor

The Firas de Maig

Just in case you don’t know what to do in Mallorca today or tomorrow, here are some of the options.

May is the month when the big annual Firas are held, the spring markets, the Firas de Maig. One is being held in Campos, this weekend, and another one in Felanitx, tomorrow. In Son Carrió, the Festes Patronals 2011 will be held, today and tomorrow. Even though I live in Felanitx, I would actually recommend the Fira in Campos, unless you have been to a Fira de Maig in Campos before. I will probably go to Son Carrió, as it has been a while since I last went. There will also be Firas de Maig in Campanet, Lloret de Vistalegre and Santa Eugènia, whilst in Sóller, Es Firó de Maig will be celebrated om Monday, May 9th, with festivities already beginning today. Es Firó reenacts the historic battle between Moros i Cristianos. In Calvià, the Día d’Europa will be held. Check locally for details.

Also, as I told you the other day, the Fira del Vi (wine market) will be held in Pollença, today and tomorrow.

The XXVIII Salón Náutico Internacional is still on in Palma, today and tomorrow (Muelle Viejo). Admission is yours for 6 €, or 5 € if you are very young. And there is a car race going on in Valldemossa, the II Pujada a Valldemossa, also today and tomorrow. There, the Campeonato de Baleares de Montaña will be crowned.

Or you could simply go for a walk in this wonderful weather and enjoy the beauty of Mallorcan landscape now, when it’s at its best. Have fun, whatever you are planning to do.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Mancor de la Vall, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 28th, 2010. The time was 15:33:21.

The Firas de Maig

Folding Fans

Even though albanicos (folding fans) are not a Spanish invention, here in Europe, the Spanish folding albanico is probably the best known and most widely used of fans. Fans were possibly first invented by the Egyptians at around 3000 B. C. and then, the Chinese ca. 2600 B. C.

Fans are said to have come to Europe by way of Christopher Columbus who reputedly included a feather fan amongst the gifts given to the Catholic Queen Isabel after his first trip to America, where the fan was also known by the Aztecs and the Incas. Fans are not only a very clever device to keep oneself cool during the high temperatures of the last few weeks; they are also used as pretty wall decorations. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, fans were also used as an instrument of communication during a time when freedom of speech for women was somewhat confined.

A language of the fan developed where gestures and their respective meanings amounted to a coded way of socializing and interacting. Here are some examples of how certain meanings were expressed by the position and gesture of the fan:

To fan slowly meant: I am married.

To fan quickly meant: I am engaged.

To hold it opened, covering the mouth meant: I am single.

To hold the fan to the lips meant: Kiss me.

To open it slowly meant: Wait for me.

To open the fan with the left hand meant: Come and talk to me.

To strike the closed fan on the left hand meant: Write to me.

To semi-close it in the right hand and tap it on the left meant: I can’t.

Of course the ladies at the time knew many more coded ways of expressing their sentiments. Much more useful information can be gained from the Todo Albanico website if you so wished.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 19th, 2010. The time was 12:17:01.

Folding Fans

Glassmaking In Mallorca

The art of glassmaking or should I say, glass blowing, goes back a pretty long time in Mallorca. The first furnaces for glassmaking in the Balearic Isles were probably set up in Eivissa (Ibiza) by the Phoenicians during the 2nd century B. C. Later in time, the Romans and more recently, the Moors produced glass in Mallorca.

In 1719, Hornos de Gordiola was established in Palma de Mallorca. The enterprise is still going strong to this day, now known under the name of Vidrios de Mallorca Gordiola. In Palma, there are two Gordiola shops and near Algaida, there is a set-up with shop premises, a production facility with furnaces where you can watch glass objects being blown and crafted, hand finished and fired. There also is a rather intriguing Museo de Vidrio where glass objects from all over the world are on display, including Greek, Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Venetian, German, Spanish and so forth.

The Gordiola glass museum makes for a rewarding visit as long as you are interested in the beauty of objects and in historic relics. Entrance to the museum is through the shop and by way of the upper shop galleries. The museum display cases could do with a facelift if you ask me. Admission is free.

The photos were taken near Algaida, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 13th, 2010. The time was 13:24:32 and 13:10:12, respectively.

Glassmaking In Mallorca

Mallorcan Roba de Llengües


The cheerful colours of a cloth known as Roba de Llengües is probably the most characteristic visual symbol of Mallorcan art and craft traditions. The age-old cloth typically has a pattern of tongue-like shapes or Llengües of white interspersed with blue, green or red. The colouring technique is similar to that of Ikat. In the old days, yarn made of hemp (Cannabis saliva) was used in this hand-weaving process on large looms. But nowadays, Llengües cloth is mostly woven in a mixture of cotton (70 %) and linen (30 %) instead of using hemp. The yarn is first dyed in white, then sections are dyed in colour to achieve the chosen pattern. Some segments of the yarn are covered altogether to avoid being dyed.

The spirit of the Llengües weaving tradition is still maintained in Mallorca by three textile workshops: Galeries Vicenç in Pollença, Gabriel Riera in Lloseta, and Artesenia Textil Bujosa in Santa Eugènia.

A visit to a Llengües museum is recommended, the Museu Martí Vicenç in Pollença, where details of the process of artisanal loom weaving can be studied and where a huge range of historic designs may be admired, some of which are hundreds of years old.


During the month of November, Palma’s Casal Solleric will present an exhibition about the tradition of Mallorcan Roba de Llengües, including a design recently created by Miquel Barceló, the Felanitx-born painter and artist.

The photo (top) was taken near Valldemossa, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 18th, 2009. The time was 15:29:30. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet. Credit is due to

Muchas gracias.

Mallorcan Roba de Llengües

Cool Mallorcan Persianas


Newcomers to and visitors of Mallorca are often amazed about an initial impression that Mallorcan villages seem closed off and shut down. All the houses have their window shutters closed, as if uninhabited. But first impressions often are completely off the mark; sometimes the opposite is true. All the seemingly closed off and abandoned houses are very actively lived in and are in full use. Persianas (window shutters) are closed because they provide a function. They are akin to an archaic form of air conditioning. Persianas keep the houses cool. In the current heatwave – yesterday some places in Mallorca’s interior recorded temperatures of up to 37° C – such a cooling aid is rather indispensable.

The invention of persianas must be one of the greatest ingenuities that the Spanish mind has ever created. Which of course is not quite correct. If my sense for the etymology of words is correct the word persiana suggests that these wooden blinds or shutters were first invented by the ancient Persian geniuses.

Whatever. There can be no doubt that persiana shutters are a godsend.

To understand how persianas work one has to know them. Persiana shutters not only keep the light out but they also filter the light and partially let light in. From the exterior persiana shutters appear as if impenetrable, but from the interior one realizes that vision is still possible. One can see out without being seen. With the filtering of light the heat stays out as well. Persianas are probably the best way to keep a house cool – provided one keeps them shut.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 2nd, 2009. The time was 19:02:33.

Cool Mallorcan Persianas