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Ricardo Fernández Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.

The works and the days in Navarrese art (4). The wolf is coming!

Fri, 19 May 2017 16:30:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

If any animal has been part of the daily reality -especially in shepherds' lands- and of the popular imaginary, as the protagonist of more or less plausible stories and always covered with cruelty, it is the wolf. Its presence in some works of Navarre's cultural heritage is contextualized in a panorama in which the connotations of the animal were always negative. Latin texts and the bestiary assimilated the wolf with the devil because of its cruelty, ferocity and hypocrisy. To this, we should add the one related to lycanthropy and the passage of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which has as its protagonist Lycaon, king of Arcadia, who was turned into a rabid wolf as a response to the attempt to serve human flesh, that of his own son, in the visit of Jupiter, to contest and disapprove the divinity of the god.

The Bible, fables and even proverbs will equate him with deceit, treachery and duplicity, because of his false and lying nature, especially visible when trying to get prey weaker than himself. Similarly so do various emblems, some of which insist on his disguise as a lamb, implying that such appearance matters little, since his ways always lead to treachery. Terror, panic, threats and punishment have come down to recent times in connection with the wolf, especially in children's stories. Guy de Tervarent in his Dictionary of a lost language, where he studies the symbols of profane art, places the wolf as an attribute of gluttony, anger and Mars, god of war.

Cesare Ripa in his Iconology ( 1593), a book edited and translated on numerous occasions for having served intellectuals, literati and artists, incorporates it in the allegory of greed. In representing this vice, he does so with a woman with a swollen belly -because those who suffer from this disease never quench their thirst no matter how much they drink- holding a bag because "she enjoys more in keeping her money, as something that satisfies her delight, than in using it" and accompanied by a wolf, as an avid and voracious animal that not only seizes what it needs, but a whole flock, if the shepherds do not come, because it fears it has not taken enough prey. Ripa relates the thinness of the wolf to the insatiable appetite of the miser and his tenacious desire for what he is possessed.


A frightening reality: the wolf is coming!

Florencio Idoate studied the law of the Cortes of Navarre of 1652 regarding the damage caused by wolves, as well as the consequences of the law, when many municipalities complained about its costs due to the felling and taxation of wolves.

If we take into account the numerous lawsuits prior to the legal text, since the XVI century, we can conclude that, indeed, wolves caused innumerable damages throughout the whole of the region. We will cite some data of lawsuits to compensate for livestock losses that give us a concrete and partial approximation of the matter, from the point of view of these lawsuits: in 1540 in Villanueva de Aézcoa (a mare), in 1551 in Monreal (a male) and Erro (eight pigs), in 1558 in Azanza (an ox and a colt), in 1559 in Salinas de Oro (30 heads of small cattle), in 1560 in Alzárriz (a mule), in 1556 in Cáseda (a donkey), in 1570 in Erdozain (a mare in the Arrieta mountain range), in 1571 in Barasoain (a male, in this case in a wolf trap), in 1587 in Pitillas (a mare), in 1590 in Abárzuza (a mare), in 1591 in Barasoain (a male), in 1594 in Villafranca (one mare), in 1594 in Cirauque (one mare), in 1595 in Ujué (several mules), in 1596 in Artajona (one mare), in 1598 in Cirauqui (one cow and her calf), in 1602 in Huarte Araquil (one rocín) and in Arellano (two horses), in 1609 in Zubiri (a mare and her foal), in 1609 in Ablitas (a muleta), in 1611 in Falces (a male), in 1611 in Otano-Ezperun (a mare), in 1626 in Arellano (two mares) and in 1629 in Espinal (two mares).

The wolf has left its memory in toponymy, at least since the 16th century. In the old quarter of Fitero, Calle de la Loba ceased to be called that way at a late date, in 1903, in favor of the merchant Cesáreo Armas, although the secular name continued to prevail. In Ribaforada, in the last third of the 16th century, the term Viento de los Lobos is already documented, and in Caparroso, Soto de los Lobos.

In heraldry we also find the wolf, which appears in the following cases: Esteríbar valley, all those of the Salazar valley, Abaigar, Aranaz, Basaburúa Mayor, Echalar, Eslava, Larraún, Leiza, Lesaca, Mañeru, Vera de Bidasoa and Yanci. According to Faustino Menéndez Pidal, a true authority on the subject and author of a book of heraldic emblems, the wolf is the animal that follows the lion and the eagle in antiquity and frequency in the Spanish heraldic repertoire. It arrived in the 12th century as a family emblem of the lineage of Haro, lords of Biscay, alluding to the name of Lope (lupus).

The aforementioned law of 1652 began with these words: "The damage caused by wolves to all types of livestock in this Kingdom is so great, due to the great monstrosity in which they are housed, that many farmers and ranchers have been destroyed and left without property". After proceeding to the distribution of rates for large and small livestock duly counted, it was determined that each wolf killed would be rewarded with six ducats and for each offspring two ducats. The protests were all over subject and ended up in the Royal committee, as the supreme organ of justice. Among the arguments were of an economic nature, the distance from the capital where the skins were to be submit collected and also security, since from Tierra Estella it was understood that the Kingdom would be filled with "vagabonds and thieves, more than there are, to degree scroll of wolf hunters". In any case, in the winter of 1655 no less than 110 wolves were captured and in that year they devoured 40 sheep in Esquíroz. The law was extended in 1662 with some modifications.

The wolves continued to be captured with rewards from the municipalities and sometimes with large raids from the towns. They were considered extinct in Navarre a little less than a century ago, although sporadically some have been killed, as in Lerín, in 1962 and Otxoportillo (Urbasa), in 1981.


The law of the strongest: in the temple and the cathedral refectory

Ignacio Malaxecheverría in his study on The sculpted bestiary in Navarre, points out the presence of the wolf, from the chest of Leire to the heads of the Romanesque capitals of Aibar, Artáiz or the example of Sangüesa devouring a kid. In the interior of the Gothic cathedral of Pamplona one of its capitals, the one corresponding to the northeast corner that corresponds to the pillar that houses the spiral staircase, presents a wolf capturing a lazy sheep with its powerful jaw. The powerful claws of the aggressor animal stand out, as well as its gaze, while in the ovine the most outstanding features are the very long fleeces. Its function does not seem to go beyond ornamentation.

However, it is in the cathedral refectory, completed in 1335, where the law of the strongest is most evident in a polychrome corbel where we find a fox trapping a rooster and a wolf capturing the first. In the opinion of Professor Fernández-Ladreda, this is one of the best corbels of the refectory as a whole, composed with greater complexity and movement, something that contrasts with the rigidity of others based on a central figure.


In Roncesvalles

The protection of pilgrims in the collegiate church is in its very origins and was a concern throughout the ages. Among the enemies, the inclement weather, bandits and wolves. The chroniclers relate that with the foundation and endowment of the hospital and church of Roncesvalles, around 1127-1132, the aim was to avoid the death of pilgrims due to snowstorms and wolf attacks. To attend to them, the bishop of Pamplona, Sancho de Larrosa, founded a house for the reception of pilgrims and the needy. During the reign of García Ramírez, in 1135, it experienced an enormous growth, ceasing to be a small hospital.

In the visit made to the collegiate church in 1590, in the period of full application of the Tridentine reform in the diocese of Pamplona, the visitor Don Martin de Cordoba, realizes that in time of lambing sheep and goats it was necessary to take extreme precautions "considering that in this time many lambs have been lost and killed, and in this time by wolves and wild beasts much damage has been done".

Two images have been preserved in relation to the harassment of the wolves to the pilgrims, both from the 17th century, in a relief of the dismantled main altarpiece that was exhibited in the sample dedicated to Huellas de la ruta. Arte en el Camino de Santiago en Navarra (2004) and in a devotional print of the Virgin of Roncesvalles.

With respect to the altarpiece, we will remember that its construction must be contextualized with the transformation of the main chapel of the temple that took place under the priesthood of Don Juan Manrique de Lamariano, between 1619 and 1628. Its authors were Gaspar Ramos and Victorián de Echenagusia, both from the workshop of Sangüesa, who were paid since 1623. Fermín de Huarte was in charge of the polychromy, having received 750 ducats for his work.

One of its panels, preserved in the collegiate church, depicts the Virgin and Santiago as protectors of pilgrims. The relief was located in one of the side streets of the attic of the altarpiece. The shepherds are harassed by two wolves, biting the younger one in the arm, while two of them try to scare the animals away with sticks. The presence of this image on the altarpiece, which attracted the attention of all those who entered the church, must have had a great impact, intensifying the stories, some of them legendary, that were told along the road to Santiago.

Regarding the engraving, the scene of three pilgrims harassed by three wolves trying to reach the Pilgrims' Hospital appears in the lower part of the print made for the Virgin of Roncesvalles by Nicolás Pinson, a Valencian engraver born in 1640 and who died after 1672.


In the Congresses of Father Moret. 1766

An engraving corresponding to the eighteenth-century edition of the Congresiones del Padre Moret (1766) sample shows some shepherds chasing the kidnapping wolf. It is an emblem, which combines graphic representation and a motto in Latin, allusive to topic of the text. To illustrate the sixth congress, the editors asked the Aragonese José Lamarca for a preparatory drawing of a flock of sheep and the attacking wolf. For the approval final of the drawing, the Diputación del Reino required Lamarca to add "a shepherd with his servant, encouraging the mastiff to chase the wolf", as he did in the plate intended for printing. The version final, more didactic, presents a pair of shepherds, one watching and the other encouraging the dog to chase the wolf. The motto that accompanies the graphic composition reads: "Eripe pastor ovem servo raptoris ob ore" (Free, O shepherd, the sheep from the servile mouth of the raptor) alludes to the content of the text that Moret glosses with the intention of making true what Father Larripa wrote in his writings. The arduous polemic between the two becomes clear with the simile of the stolen sheep that is going to be freed, as the historical truth with the text of Father Moret.


On the canvases of the Divina Pastora

From the dawn of the 18th century, the Capuchins had an invocation of the Virgin, that of the Divine Shepherdess, which was familiar to them and which they spread in their missions and from their convents. The manager of this was Fray Isidoro de Sevilla from 1703 when he had a canvas painted by Alonso Miguel de Tovar. The religious wrote La Pastora Coronada ( Seville, 1705) in which he exposed his predictable idea of the Virgin in shepherdess costume. The description he gave to the painter said: "Some sheep will surround the Virgin, forming her flock and all of them will carry roses in their mouths, symbolic of the Hail Mary with which they venerate her. In the distance a sheep will be seen lost and pursued by the wolf - the enemy emerging from a cave with eagerness to devour it, but it pronounces the Hail Mary, expressed by a sign in its mouth, demanding help; and the archangel St. Michael will appear, descending from Heaven, with the protective shield and the arrow, which he has to sink in the testicle of the cursed wolf". Blessed José de Cádiz played a great role in the diffusion of the devotion, who composed the texts for its liturgical festivity, which were approved in 1795.

There are paintings with the topic in the Conceptionists of Estella, the Comendadoras of Puente, Araceli of Corella and, among all, the one of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters of Pamplona, a gift of Doña Antonia de Ripalda Marichalar, sister of the Count of Ripalda and resident in Seville in the first decades of the 18th century and, therefore, with first hand knowledge of the devotion and iconography that had its origin there. If we observe these canvases and numerous engravings, in the background there is usually the persecution of a sheep or lamb by the wolf, in parallels and parallelism with what was sung in the refrain of her gozos: "Del lobo infernal seguida / a vos llamelo Señora / ¡Piedad, Divina pastora, / que soy la oveja perdida!". An edition of these gozos with the novena to the Divine Shepherdess was printed in Pamplona in 1798.


At the monument to San Francisco, by Ramón Arcaya, 1927.

The malice and ferocity of the wolf placated by the goodness of St. Francis of Assisi is the topic of the monument to the saint in his Pamplona place , work of the sculptor Ramón Arcaya in 1927, although it was moved from the center of the place to one of its sides in 1993. In the "Little Flowers of St. Francis" , a text from the second half of the 14th century in which various events of the saint's life were compiled, the story of the wolf that terrorized the town of Gubbio is narrated and how, thanks to the intervention of St. Francis, the ferocious animal ceased its misdeeds, coming to coexist with the people in exchange for the food it needed.

The initiative for its construction in Pamplona came from committee of the centenary festivities of St. Francis of Assisi, wishing to recall the legendary story of his coming to Navarre and Pamplona, at the request of Sancho el Fuerte for the pacification of the burgh of San Cernin and the town of San Nicolás.