: March 2004
|A todos los amigos españoles, especialmente a los madrileños. Madrid donde vivé hace unos años. |
Que los pitos nos recuerden que la vida siempre triumfará de la muerte.
We will study 12 whistles this month. Those whistles were bought in an estate within 25 whistles made in different countries.
All the whistles are modeled in a beige clay in anthropomorphic or zoomorphic shapes except for one whistle representing an aircraft.
The whistles are white washed then some green, red, yellow or blue lines are quickly painted.
| Study of the object
All these whistles are tubular whistles. When the statuette has a base, the whistle is often put on this one (Nixdorff's category B5) but for some statuettes (men, animals), the whistle is inserted directly into it (Nixdorff's category B3).
These whistles belong to a famous category: the "siurells" from the Balearic Islands. These characteristic whistles are now a symbol of these islands. The most famous amateur of these "siurells" was the painter Joan Miró. Still manufactured for the tourists, the whistles studied here seem to be antique ones. The siurells are often described as some survivals from the age of Bronze.
There are several possible orthographies: "siurell", "siulet" or "xiurell" and "xiulet". The most usual one today is "siurell".
These whistles were sold formerly during patronal fairs. The most famous one was located in the village of Sineu .
In 1952, the production of the siurells was located in Pórtol, Inca, sa Cabaneta, Llubí, Felanitx, Sineu and Artá. Before 1950 they would have been made also in Manacor, Santa Maria and Palma.
This production was thus very common. The whistles were produced in small family pottery workshops.
In 1978, the pottery centers of Pórtol, Inca and Santa Maria in the island of Palma still existed in the Balearic Islands. The old pottery centers of Consell and sa Cabaneta manufactured nothing any more but the siurells. This production was especially the production of the women while the men devoted themselves to the production of bigger items.
Except for the siurells of the years 1950-60 covered with various glazes (green, Prussian blue, black, maroon, pale yellow, orange or blood red), the traditional whistles are covered with white lime then painted with colored lines.
Glaze mottled with manganese
Artist's production marked "50/100"
Ampurias "Cerámica popular: los "siurells baleáricos
| 1950: the break.
An article of 1952 in the magazine Ampurias: "Cerámica popular: los siurells baleáricos" by Carlos Cid Priego makes it possible to date the series of the studied whistles in the first half of the 20th century. All the whistles photographed in the article are very close to the whistles of the batch.
In this article, the author writes that at this time, these whistles were largely forgotten and neglected by the children of the Balearic Islands.
They were the foreigners or the cultured people who started to be interested in these objects. Due to this new interest, their sale first limited to the local festivals, developed then permanently in the tourist shops .
Today, the fashion returned to the white washed clay models but their shapes are heavier. The "siurells" are often stereotyped.
from left to right
Woman with a tiara
Woman with a "loaf?"
woman with a "round loaf"
| Typology: |
Unfortunately, no text former to the 19th century give information about the old whistles. A collection with very rare and old siurells was quoted in the Balearic Islands but this collection disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century. It is thus difficult to establish a chronology of the models.
Standing man with a stick and a dog
G with D
ridding men in costume
| other anthropomorphic figures: |
| The animals: |
The article of Mr. Priego proposed the following chronology:
From L to R
It would be easy to speculate in the resemblances between the siurells and the protohistoric figurines of Crete. But no old siurell makes it possible to know how old these shapes are or to confirm a chronology.
To look for the origin of the siurells in the Andalusian medieval whistles has no sense. Their shapes and typology are fundamentally different.
The siurells are also very different of the small jugs made in Agost in the Spanish coast.
The "siurell" will keep its mystery probably for a long time.
Couples of peasants.