Tuesday, March 28

The discovery of 14 pastoradas, a disappeared theatrical genre, allows to know the Aragonese of the 19th century

Every June 25, the pilgrimage in honor of Santa Orosia is celebrated in the Huesca town of Yerbra de Basa. In it, a popular dance with sticks is performed, and, at the end of it, a dramatized dialogue in verse known as the pastorada, where a representative of the wealthy class (el mayoral) and his apprentice, representative of the humble classes ( el rabadán) discuss different issues that have occurred during the year, accompanied by the 12 dancers who represent the cattle (the sheep).

During a good part of the second half of the 20th century, this theatrical genre was considered lost and very little was known about it, until the investigations between 1988 and 1991 by Enrique Satué Olivan on these pilgrimages caused the tradition to be recovered and in the It is currently considered an Asset of Intangible Cultural Interest by the Government of Aragon.

Now not only has dance been recovered, but 150 original texts have also been found, dated between 1814 and 1933, which remained hidden in the archives of the O Zoque and Amigos del Serrablo associations. This discovery has allowed not only the 19th-century Aragonese, but also its Hispanicization and loss. “We only have the pastorates to know what the Aragonese was like in the first half of the 19th century, there is no other type of writing” says the author of this research, Oscar Latas. “Normally you find one or two in some localities, but here we have found 14 pastoradas, which allows us to characterize what the language was like in this area” “what has happened to Aragonese is that it has been castellanized, and here we have a historical phonetic purest.”

“Now everyone can use it as they want, but at least we know what this Romance language was like, we can no longer allude to ignorance.” For Oscar Latas, the future of Aragonese depends on the language policy that is developed, “the richness is in diversity and plurality. Just as we preserve the churches of the Serrablo and nobody questions it, we must preserve the language of the Serrablo. What happens is that one is material heritage and the other is not”

Lack of interest in the native

In addition, for the writer there is a lack of interest that is not understood due to the lack of research on these issues, “There is a great inferiority complex. It always seems that what comes from outside is better and what is local is not valued. This has to do in part with different historical events such as the invasion of Aragon by Castilian troops”, in reference to the Alterations of Aragon during the 16th century, “Aragon adopts the Castilian language, Castilian customs and becomes acculturated, practically, in favor of a common good”.

And, on the other hand, he clearly sees a “certain fear” during the years of transition and the arrival of democracy at the height of nationalism, as occurred on one side in Catalonia and on the other in the Basque Country, “both on the right as in the left it was decided not to support the language, and, in fact, the singer-songwriters do not bet on the language as a sign of the people and they sing in Spanish”.

Despite this, Latas does recognize an interest and a “regenerationism” for “strengthening everything that is identity” but that they are minority sectors “that do not reach the bulk of the population” and that “the only thing that would serve” would be the recognition of an officer to the Aragonese language.

A way to settle accounts

These theatrical works have not only meant a discovery at a linguistic level, but also a “historical portrait of the area”, since unlike other pastoradas that were carried out in León, with a Christmas theme, or in France, more focused on the drama historical, those of Yebra de Basa had a humorous and satirical tone where the topics that had happened in the area and that were related to its inhabitants were treated. For example, the first Pastorada of which there is a record is from 1814 and, therefore, the main theme is the War of Independence; but there are also those that talk about depopulation at the beginning of the 20th century and how men have been left without women to marry.

And it is that the pilgrimage of Santa Orosia not only served as a religious and identity festivity that “united all the surrounding towns that felt part of a community” but also a meeting in which deals were made, the dancers were presented, all single, in society and also an “escape route” for social tensions always “under the umbrella of the church”. And it is that the foreman spoke of his merits and successes while the slob denounced his abuse “he told him how badly he treated him, that he beat him, that he paid him poorly.” “In some places they were even banned because intolerable things were said at the time and they crossed the line of what was folkloricly acceptable.”

In addition, there was also a linguistic division, since in some texts it was the mayoral who spoke in Spanish while the repatán recited in Aragonese, which could represent the commitment of the bourgeois classes to Spanish, as well as the church since the praises Finals were also held in Spanish. In short, “it represented a class conflict”, concludes its author.