• Religious ideas and beliefs Religious ideas and beliefs

    Not only have the Mallorcan mountains been considered a place steeped in energy and spirituality by writers and artists, even in a context with an inclination towards introspection as can be seen in some neo-Classical and Romantic poems. The different cultures that settled on the island of Mallorca over the years have attributed a sacred character to certain places or inhabitants of the area, venerating the forces of nature and erecting buildings to perform their religious practices. Although we [...]

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LIVING LANDSCAPE

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Traditional lifestyles

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Towns and villages are the community´s main source of social life. The economic, political, educational, cultural and religious activities of different members of society find their expression in houses, public spaces, social and power relations, ideologies and beliefs, everyday life, diet, attire and tasks that are performed.

In the Tramuntana area, towns and villages have evolved from former settlements from Moslem times, and have been deeply influenced by the orography of the mountains themselves. Life in them has gradually changed as time has passed, but these changes were accentuated with the growth of the tourism sector in the 1960s. Until then, the town was the most important place in the municipality, and the square, with its cafés and barbers´ shops, was the social centre, above all on Sundays, when people left church, and on public holidays and market days. It was a meeting place, a place for bargaining and the centre of social life.

Mallorca´s countryside – that is, most of the island´s territory – cannot be understood without taking a look at the social and interpersonal relations that took place in rural estates or possessions. They were hubs of rural life and the backbone of traditional conventions in the Mallorcan countryside. These large estates, the purpose of which was farming and livestock rearing, were administrated from a nucleus of buildings called the estate houses, consisting of the cases dels senyors (landowner´s houses) and cases dels amos (farm manager´s houses). In them, the farm manager and his wife (l´amo i la madona) frequently lived alongside the owner and his family (els senyors). The senyors were landowners and members of the nobility, belonging to what was called the braç noble (literally ´noble arm´) or mà major rural, boasting a high level of independence in these rural areas. They controlled the abundant peasant labour force on the basis of a classist, clearly hierarchical social structure.

These estates constituted a unique system of production and system of social interaction, in which the landowners, l´amo (farm manager) and the madona (his wife) lived side by side with many other workers: amitger, majoral, missatge, jornaler, pareller, bover, oguer, hortolà, segadors, homes d´era, jornalers, and also the traginers (carters) and collidores d´oliva (olive gatherers), that is to say people from different places around the island who came on a temporary basis to work during the olive harvest. This meant there had to be enough space to accommodate these temporary workers.

The traditional lifestyles, agricultural and livestock-related know-how of the peasants, specific solutions adopted to meet subsistence requirements, and ways of seeing and understanding the region are expressed in the everyday universe of the estates.

Although the senyors barely lived on some estates, they usually alternated summer seasons in their townhouses with time spent at the estate. Particularly after the 17th century when social conflicts (the Revolta Forana, and Germanies) between landowners and peasants were over, large landowning families who had a townhouse sought a residence in the Tramuntana area, where we can observe a higher density of estate houses belonging to landowners than on the rest of the island, as well as greater complexity in the rooms, chapels, gardens etc. These more frequent visits to their mountain estates on the part of landowners is linked both to scenic questions and the fact that they had a larger water supply.

Forest areas also had workers who specialized in different activities related to forestry, notably the roters, sharecroppers who rented the most unproductive part of the estate lands; the marger, in charge of building and repairing the hillside terraces; the llenyater, who would cut down trees and bushes to supply wood; the carboner, who manufactured charcoal using wood from the surrounding area; the calciner, responsible for manufacturing lime; or the nevater, who manufactured ice.

Mountain activities were clearly different – harder and more solitary – to life in villages or towns or on estates, but people who could not work as agricultural labourers on an estate and did not have their own piece of land to subsist from were destined to work in these mountain activities.

In addition to these activities, in the summer shepherds would also move the livestock from flatter areas of the island to the Tramuntana Mountains where they could find the necessary pasture land.