El Pan Nuestro by Ramón Frade

By Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

El Pan Nuestro (1905) by Ramón FradeInstituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

It was Frade’s dream to study art in Rome. To pursue his goal, he decided to submit this painting to the Puerto Rican Chamber of Deputies in the hopes of obtaining a grant to fund his studies. Unfortunately, his request was denied.

The term jibaro, as used in the Puerto Rican lexicon, refers to the people living in the countryside or mountainous regions of the Island. As a character, the jibaro has become the embodiment of the values of dignity, resilience and perseverance that have come to represent the spirit and substance of a people.

Frade takes on the religious idiom “Our daily bread” quite literally through the depiction of a plantain bunch held by the land worker. Plantains have become a staple of the Puerto Rican diet.

The worker has a machete on his waist, considered both a work tool and a weapon. The machete would later become a symbol of the armed struggle for the independence of the Island.

Colloquially, Puerto Ricans are distinguished by their mancha de plátano or “plantain stain”, a phrase or saying derived from stains caused by coming in contact with the plant’s sap and/or handling the fruit itself. It is part of the Puerto Rican idiosyncrasy; no matter where they go in the world, the “stain”, a symbolic term for Puerto Rican identity, cannot be erased.

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