The Giantess Laia
Laia represents a thirteen-year-old girl dressed in clothing typical of the fourth century when, according to Barcelona legend, she saw Saint Eulàlia, the city’s first patron saint. In her hands, the giantess carries the attributes of Saint Eulàlia: the palm, symbolising her martyrdom, and the X-shaped cross on which she was condemned to die. On her head, Laia wears a crown of real flowers.
The figure was made following praise for a drawing by Carme Solé to illustrate the programme and poster for the Feast of Saint Eulàlia in 1997. This led Barcelona Institute of Culture, the Federation of Popular and Traditional Culture Associations of Barcelona Vella and La Casa dels Entremesos folklore centre to agree to build a giantess, enriching the city’s festive imagery and heritage. The image-builder Xavier Jansana was commissioned to create Little Laia according to the indications of the artist, Carme Solé, and the new figure made its debut in the Procession of the Laies on 12 February 1998.
Haca Traca Almalafa of Castellón
The nag Haca Traca Almalafa of Castellón is the fourth most-important figure in that city’s bestiary. She was first presented in 2009, at the 10th Meeting of Fire Beasts, organised by Els Botafocs de Castelló. Haca Traca is the first nag in the Catalan-speaking countries. She has her own music, composed by Paco Magnieto and played on dulcimer and drum. Her name alludes to the festival of gunpowder and to her ancestral origins in festivities that took place in a rural area between Castellón and Grau, known as Almalafa. Haca Traca is the central figure in the local Meetings of Domestic Bestiary, organised as part of the celebrations for Sant Antoni del Porquet (Saint Anthony of the Hog), in January every year.
Mula Baba of Girona
The peculiarity about Mula Baba, one of the largest mulasses in Catalonia, is that she has a theatre in her belly and gives puppet shows everywhere she goes. Documents indicate the existence of the mulassa of Girona as long ago as the late-sixteenth century, though she was lost in 1859 when the Chapel of Sant Miquel collapsed. Girona’s new mulassa, Mula Baba, was presented in 2014. While the exterior conserves her original appearance, the interior is made from modern materials and is equipped for additional uses. The figure is carried by five mulassers (one of which moves her head), and she can be seen dancing at the Fairs and Feasts of Sant Narcís in Girona in late-October every year.
Mulassa of Barcelona
The first documentary reference to the Mulassa of Barcelona, linked to the wool merchants’ guild, who had their chapel in the Parish Church of El Pi, dates back to the year 1568. Since then, this mule has taken part in such momentous occasions as the canonisation of Saint Raymond of Penyafort in 1601. However, it was in the eighteenth century that Mulassa became one of the most popular, entertaining and manic members of the bestiary, until the restrictions on leisure activities imposed in 1771 meant that her fireworks were banned. Indeed, Mulassa was one of the first characters from the bestiary to disappear.
In 1988, the Association of Friends of the Giants of El Pi commissioned the craftsman Manel Casserras i Boix to recreate Mulassa. A replica was presented at the Feast of La Mercè in 2005, and this copy now takes part in parades and protocol processions, while the original is only seen in parades involving fire.
Mulassa de Falset
Falset did not have its own mule until a group of local young people, known as Els Joves de la Parròquia, decided to remedy the situation, organising activities to raise funds to build one. The master craftsman Manel Llauradó was commissioned create the figure, and La Mulassa de Falset was completed in 2011. The mule weighs 32 kilos and is made from glass fibre, acrylic paint and bristles. Her costume is by Josep Ahumada, her harnesses by Emili Arbonès, and the music she dances to is composed by Joan Lluís Barceló.
Mulassa de Montblanc
Although the mule was revived in 1981, the earliest references to the Mulassa of Montblanc date back to 1381. The mule was owned by the guild of tanners and furriers. The present version is by Ismael Porta, and while her four bearers make her dance, they can also make her eyes and ears move. Though managed by the Association of Friends of Giants, Mulassa is the property of Montblanc Local Council. She dances to the sound of the gralla, and her movements are most awaited when she takes part in the Popular Procession for Saint Matthias in May, at Corpus Christi and in the local festivities in honour of Our Lady of the Sierra in September.
Mulassa de Reus
The Mulassa of Reus, always accompanied by giants, has been brought out at Corpus Christi, the Feast of Saint Peter and other solemn festivities in that town since at least 1628, date of the first documentary reference to her. The present mulassa was built in 1725, and new robes were made for her from the giants’ old costumes in 1756. In the parade, she comes behind the fire elements and before the dwarfs. She behaves calmly in parades and processions, but becomes much livelier during dances in the middle of the square.
Mulassa de Sant Feliu de Pallerols
The origin of this mule goes back to the eighteenth century, when it belonged to the wool merchants’ guild of Sant Feliu de Pallerols. This small mulassa, carried by a single person, has an extendible neck enabling her to move her head in all directions. With the giants and the cavallets (hobby horses), Mulassa leads festive processions in Sant Feliu de Pallerols. In the Ball dels Cavallets, a dance performed in this town in Girona province catalogued as of National Traditional Festive Interest by the Government of Catalonia in 1999 and as a Heritage Festival of National Interest in 2010, Mulassa spins around the square, giving the children a fright.
Mulassa de Tarragona
Originally introduced at the Entremès de Betlem festivity in 1442, Mulassa de Tarragona is the most playful character among all the festive beasts in the Popular Procession for Saint Tecla. In an agreement established on 3 November 1744, the City Council resolved that Mulassa should no longer take part in processions and other events that entailed expenses for the city. The mule was finally revived in 1988 by the Centre de Colles Sardanistes and built by Joan Serramià.
Mulassa de Vic
Documentary records mentioning the Mulassa, Mula or Mula Fera of Vic go back to the seventeenth century. The mule led the procession at Corpus Christi, which is the origin of most bestiary and giants. The Mulassa of Vic survived the prohibition imposed by Charles III between 1765 and 1785, as the Bourbon monarch attempted to eliminate all representations of Catalan folklore through a series of specific laws and decrees for each element: giants, dances, bestiary. However, the Mulassa disappeared from 1808 to 1814, no doubt as a result of the French War. The present figure was created in el 2007 by Ventura i Hosta.
Mulasseta de Montblanc
The Mulasseta of Montblanc, created to mark the twentieth anniversary of Montblanc Association of Friends of Giants (who carry her), is an exact replica of the larger version of this mule. She made her social debut at the Feast of Saint Matthias on 17 May 2014, at a meeting of mulasses and mulassetes from all over, including the French town of Montblanc. Since the beast was created by the AVALL studio, the two mules have performed the dance known as El galop de la Mulassa together. Like the larger version, Mulasseta forms part of the Popular Procession in Montblanc.
Somera of Falset
After the success of La Mulassa de Falset, the young people of that town decided to create a children’s image to introduce the local youth to the world of festive bestiary. Finally, they commissioned the craftsman Manel Llauradó to build this figure, which made its debut in 2015. Ever since, Somera has accompanied La Mulassa de Falset in all her parades and performances, particularly at the local festivities in August and for Saint Càndia in September.