• Traditional lifestyles Traditional lifestyles

    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 [...]

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Oral traditions


The Tramuntana area has generated an extensive, exceptional intangible heritage. Despite its intangible nature, or precisely because of it, it is a prime exponent of the local culture, closely identified with the rich culture of the region.

The Tramuntana area has generated an extensive, exceptional intangible heritage. Despite its intangible nature, or precisely because of it, it is a prime exponent of the local culture, closely identified with the rich culture of the region. Four different aspects can be distinguished: place names, legends, rondalles (folk tales) and gloses (songs), although obviously there are other linguistic contributions, like terminology related to dry-stone wall making, agricultural and livestock farming, fishing, forestry or gastronomic activities, some of which have been conserved although many terms are in danger of extinction since they have not been catalogued or studied sufficiently.


Place names combine to form a rich heritage that makes up a large part of popular and traditional culture. Given the intangible nature of this heritage, the task of safeguarding it is an important one. This mainly oral toponymic heritge encompasses many different aspects, particularly the geography, history and native language of Mallorca.


Due to their isolation and rural way of life, from the Middle Ages through to the Modern Age, the mountains were the source of numerous legends. Some of them very probably have an even older origin and are versions of myths believed by the island´s first settlers. The mountains are a symbol of vigour and strength for men from all ages. Galatzó and El Teix, two of the island´s most emblematic mountains, are a source of innumerable legends and popular tales, whose main protagonists are witches and ghosts. Some passages from history are also the source of this type of popular tradition, like the case of the divine aid received by the people of Sóller during the pirate attack of 1561 or the case of the legendary figures of Guillem Cabrit and Guillem Bassa, defendants of the independent Kingdom of Mallorca during the invasion of King Pedro IV. Among the most popular legends referring to this area, we must highlight two that are clearly linked to the area and its landscape: Cabrit and Bassa and El Salt de la Bella Dona.

Folk tales

The Tramuntana Mountains are often the setting for rondalles, tales or narrations in prose of oral origins by anonymous authors. The tales recount imaginary events featuring a series of characters, a plot, and a specific setting. Archduke Ludwig Salvator wrote Rondalles de Mallorca (Folk Tales of Mallorca, 1895) and, in a secondary way, in other works that he published about the Balearics he also compiled stories from the islands´ extensive, rich oral heritage.

The person who was mainly responsible for compiling the rondalles was a clergyman called Antoni Maria Alcover. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he gathered together tales that had been verbally handed down from generation to generation, trying to conserve the popular language (Mallorcan) in which they were told. Their publication, at Christmas in 1895, in the form of serialized instalments made a big cultural impact and they were widely read.

Aside from these legends, mention must be made of an imaginary character called Maria Enganxa (María Hook), present in Mallorcan oral narrations since time immemorial. Folk tales are full of frightening characters like María Enganxa, who, according to tradition, is an old woman that lives in all wells and water tanks. With the hook from which her name is derived, she traps children who dare look down into the well. Through this intelligent way of frightening children, grandmothers safeguarded children from the dangers that wells and water tanks represented.

Songs and gloses

At a time when culture was limited to an élite, oral traditions were the key to finding out news and remembering information.

One important expression of Mallorcan folklore are its gloses, popular oral rhymes that are normally improvised when they are declaimed. They are the equivalent of the Catalan corrandas or Valencian albadas. In the Balearic Islands´ illiterate rural society, the figure of the glosador became sufficiently popular for some of them to do it professionally, travelling from town to town and testing their skills as challenged by the townspeople or other glosadors in what were known combats of gloses.