Oct 27, 2016

Religion and Myth. Art and Custom

Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares del Alto Guadalquivir

In this collection, you will uncover the mysteries surrounding the complicated web of beliefs, myths, and religion in the castle.

Art and religion
The museum houses a complete collection of superb Baroque paintings portraying the Christian apostles. This reflects the importance of religion in art during the 17th and 18th centuries.

According to religious tradition, St. Philip was attached to a cross with ropes, not nails, and then crucified. We can see that the saint has bony hands, a dense and somewhat graying beard, and curly hair.

St. Peter is depicted holding the keys which characterize him. His face bears the wrinkles appropriate to his age, framed by curly hair at the sides, a bald patch and a short, frizzy beard.

St. Matthew, the saint whose status is indicated in the painting by the halo above his head, was both an apostle and an evangelist, which is why he is portrayed gazing at the book.

Saint Matthias holds an axe, the symbol of his martyrdom, and a book, as do almost all of the apostles. He has a thick beard and a narrow face. His red tunic contrasts with the blue of his cloak.

St. Paul is shown with a halo and carries the sword which identifies him. He is looking to the right, and has a lank beard and bald patch with which he is commonly portrayed.

St. Thaddeus is represented with the halberd, the instrument of his martyrdom. St. Thaddeus is none other than St. Judas Thaddeus, given that name to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ.

St. Bartholomew carries a knife in his right hand, the iconographic attribute of his martyrdom. He is represented as an elderly man with a wrinkled forehead, a bald patch, and a white beard.

St. James the Less carries the hammer of his martyrdom in the crook of his left arm, with one hand resting on a book and the other against his chest.

St. Thomas is represented with a halo, he looks downwards at the book he's holding in his left hand, while his right hand holds the base of a spear.

St. John is represented as a beardless youth, being the youngest of the apostles. We see the chalice containing the liquid with which they tried to poison him and he gives a blessing with his right hand.

St. Andrew holds a saltire [the cross of St. Andrew] in his hands, the iconographic attribute of this apostle. His expressive face and visible eye gaze upwards towards the heavens.

St. James the Greater is dressed as a pilgrim, holding the pilgrim’s staff in his right hand and a book in his left. The halo above his head identifies him as a saint.

Tradition and custom
Religion is combined with custom and tradition, for example having religious figures in the house or saying the rosary within the family.

St. Ambrose, one of the fathers of the church, is sculpted as a bearded old man dressed in papal vestments, with a cross round his neck and a book cradled in his left arm. The only things missing are the miter and the crozier.

The custom of saying the rosary within the family was deeply rooted in popular religion, especially among women and particularly in rural areas.

Myth and legend: the Tragantía
Beware the song of the Tragantía heard on the Eve of Saint John.

This mysterious story, full of magic, fear and fantasy, involves a princess, a castle and a tragic ending so long drawn-out that it seems to go on for ever, becoming absolutely terrifying.

Here is a translation of the old folk song:

I am the Tragantía,
From the Moorish King I was born
And those who hear my sing once
Will not see daylight more
Nor live to enjoy the Eve of St. John.

The king kept the princess in hiding while he went away to fight his enemies and met his demise. Imprisoned and desperate, she lived on pests like vermin until she transformed into a half-human, half-lizard creature, and ultimately became a mythical figure.

Museo de Artes y Costumbres Alto Guadalquivir de Cazorla
Credits: Story

Religion and myth. Art and custom

Organised by:
Museo de Artes y Costumbres Alto Guadalquivir de Cazorla
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucia

Texts: María del Mar Capel García.
Photography: Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía.
Digital Edition: María del Mar Capel García.

Museo de Artes y Costumbres Alto Guadalquivir de Cazorla.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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