To celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Mulassa de Barcelona, thirteen “mules” from all over the Catalan-speaking countries take part in the exhibition Mulasses, which is open at the Palau de la Virreina until February 12.
On Friday, February 2, just as it was getting dark, the mulasses invited to take part in the show began to arrive, one by one, in the lobby of the Palau de La Virreina, which had been suitably prepared and decorated to welcome them. A few surprised tourists and passers-by on La Rambla came up to take photos with them or stroke their flanks.
At the doors of the Palau de la Virreina, Xavier Cordomí, Director of Traditional Events at Barcelona Institute of Culture’s Festival Service, welcomed the beasts and the members of the folklore groups that accompanied them. According to Cordomí, “Nowadays, mulasses play a purely festive role. However, in earlier times, like other figures in the parade, they had religious significance and even political connotations, which is why they were banned in the late-eighteenth century”.
The members of the folklore groups handled the figures with the greatest care as they were installed in their places, splendidly dressed and richly adorned. In some cases, they even combed the mules’ tails, as if they were grooming live animals. “In the olden days, mulasses were dressed in the finest and most fashionable fabrics, as if they were models, when making their public appearance in the parade”, says Cordomí, who is also director of La Casa dels Entremesos and founder of several associations devoted to popular and traditional culture.
According to Nico Alonso and Roger Herrera, members of the Colla de la Mulassa de Barcelona and the Gegants del Pi folklore groups, nowadays, “unlike the solemnity of other figures, such as Àliga, these mules have a more playful role; they scare the kids and are allowed to break the protocol and leave the parade, as well as acting as fire beasts”.
Besides the mulasses, the exhibition also features the Giantess Laia, who plays the role of host. This figure, which represents Saint Eulàlia, a thirteen-year-old girl, was made by the image-maker Xavier Jansana according to the indications of the artist Carme Solé.
The exhibition, like the parade and the demonstration of dances that will take place on Monday, February 12, are the central events commemorating the 450th anniversary of Mulassa de Barcelona. The celebrations also include a programme of activities over the course of the year. At the end of the parade, a party will begin at the Palau de la Virreina: you are all invited!
For full information about the exhibition and all the figures in it, click here.