The Intangible Heritage

The cultural forms to be promoted

This territory and this population retain various forms of oral culture shared, totally or partially, byGalicians and Portuguese in which the processes of transformation of nature into culture show evident particularities. Among these we may mention:

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[li] A rich oral literature, music and dancing, in which a perspective of the world is reflected, and which is very similar in Galicia and the North of Portugal. The regueifas, or improvised duels of sung poems, are a good example of this oral literature, as are the varied legends, stories, sung poems, romances, sayings and riddles which still remain in the memory of the oldest inhabitants.[/li]

[li] A symbology which is marked by the historic, ecological context, which identifies a conscience with an identical cultural referent.[/li]

[li] A festive universe which was traditionally adapted to the rhythm of nature and of the year, with festivals of the annual cycle, festivals of patron saints and processions, many of which are of ancestral origin, and others are the fruit of a Christian culture read in an ecologicalcultural sense. Celebrations such as the “Entroido” or Carnival in certain areas of Ourense and of Trás-os-Montes preserve masks which go back at least to medieval times. The same occurs with celebrations such as Corpus Christi in Redondela, which maintains ancient dances of professional guilds, or the Coca of the neighbouring town of Monção, said Coca being a type of Tarasca or dragon.[/li]

[li] Ways of speech which, in spite of their dialectal variants and the influence of the languages of the respective states, retain evident lexical, phonetic, morphological and syntactic affinities. The common origin of the Galician-Portuguese language still retains linguistic systems which are close to this common origin, and are present in both communities.[/li]

[li] Forms of culture which are linked to the maritime environment, with typical craft such as the dorna or the gamela, likewise old knowledge as to where to find fishing grounds in order to “matar peixe” [kill fish], the memory of a trade guild system by which tasks and yield were divided among the crew, or the exploitation of the seaweed deposited on the coastline by the sea in order to fertilise the land.[/li]

[li] An agricultural culture in the more fertile valleys, with a predominance of the growing of maize or vines, which brings about specific methods of appropriation of the land and of transformation of the produce. In this case, as in the case mentioned below, traditional knowledge about plants and animals, domesticated or wild, is rich, this being an indication of a peculiar appropriation of nature by means of cultural-linguistic categories. In contrast with the valleys, in the mountainous areas a culture focussed on the breeding of livestock and the growing of rye developed, which brought about the creation of formulae related to the use of what was not cultivated -common forest land, vezeiras or common grazing land-.[/li]

[li] Regarding the exploration of the environment, but also open to the outside world, there remain craftsmen’s skills and knowledge which are retained in oral memory, such as the memory of the knife-grinders of Ourense who even created a way of speech limited to their profession, which today is in danger of disappearing, as is the jargon of the stonemasons of Pontevedra. On the Portuguese side other professions also appeared such as the serranchíns, sawyers who travelled throughout Galicia and even in the neighbouring lands of Asturias and León, cutting planks with their whipsaws.[/li]

[li] The traditional clothing, and the adornments which accompany it, especially in its richer forms, is a bright and colourful element which today, having lost its everyday use, has new connotations of an aesthetic-identifying character, but it also reveals a craftsperson’s knowledge of the use of raw materials such as linen and wool, which have been produced in this area since prehistoric times.[/li]


The aforementioned aspects are just a number of pointers which indicate the presence of a cultural system which can be defined as traditional and which sinks its roots into a more or less distant past, in spite of some recent incorporations which are the fruit of what Hobsbawn defined as “the invention of traditions”, a phenomenon which should not be scorned as the processes of traditionalisation are also a cultural fact.

Practical and logical reasons demand that this candidature should concentrate solely on singular examples of this vast cultural system.

It is necessary to insist that the recovery and assessment of concrete forms should not let us lose sight of the fact that cultures are made up of heteroclitic elements which are permanently in juxtaposition and subordination, it being necessary to place the examples chosen in a pertinent context in order to understand their significance.

The objective is to obtain, in the orality of this region, the nuances which characterise its exceptional nature within the European cultural space, whose sense and value are defined in the examples selected for this candidature.
All things considered, the content of a story may be incomprehensible if we do not explain it with regard to the messages about the family or about nature which this story tries to transmit, consciously or unconsciously. We also know that this folklore, that is to say, this “popular knowledge” has an additional dimension which specialists such as Baussinger or Marti define as folklorism. “Folklorism” is, as we understand it, all the processes which lead us to the lifting of a form of culture from its original context in order to introduce it into new spheres, which presupposes a modification in its significance. Even though processes of this type have been often criticised and defined as fakelore, we believe we are right in saying that these translations, and the resulting changes in function and in significance are inevitable and therefore our goal is to create or revitalise some social and cognitive physical places in the memory in the midst of a technological society and culture which will unavoidably give new interpretations to the forms relived or maintained in this way.

It should not be forgotten that culture is a capability which resides in the human brain. In this “mentalist” perspective, objects are not culture, but manifestations of that human capability which responds to the universality of the potential of homo sapiens sapiens, which manifests itself in diverse mentalities and forms.

This point of view makes “objects” not only material shapes, but also signifiers which liberate ideas, beliefs, values and abilities, of an immaterial nature. For this reason, we include in this project, based on the heritage defined as “immaterial”, a number of objects -masks, ploughs, carts, grain stores, etc.- which illustrate an ethos and a pathos, or linguistic-communicative faculties associated with the aforementioned “objects” of which we must not lose sight if we are to give a holistic point of view to the cultural fact.

Therefore, this proposal is directed towards showing and activating the immaterial oral culture maintained by material spaces or media in which ideas, values, abilities and beliefs are based or supported.