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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dog symbol of the Canary Islands Disappears

In recent times there has been a controversy over the representation of the dog (Presa Canario) in the shield. This fact, motivated in part by the Government of Canary Islands has removed the two dogs from the official forms and public buildings, although they have been kept in the Coat of arms of Canary Islands.

The dog, or "can", the historical symbol of the Canary Islands from which they take their name, has begun to disappear from official use.

The elimination of both dogs from the shield of the Canary Islands, on official forms and public buildings, has generated some controversy, not just because of the cost, but because the Canarian people have been very attached to "man's best friend" for centuries.

The Canarian executive is justifying the decision to change the "corporation mark", so that it is more modern and easier for citizens to identify with, which has both detractors and those in favour.

The Government plans to put an end to a symbol that has been tradition in the island since 1722, the year in which 18th Century historian, José de Viera y Clavijo, wrote about the shield with a dog on each side for the first time.

The first mention of the dog in relation to the Canary Islands goes back to the Mauritanian King Juba II, who, between 30 and 25 BC, had sent a marine expedition that came across the islands. The discovery was described extensively by Pliny, who wrote that the Canaries received this name "for their dogs, two of which were sent to Juba".

The Canary Dog is one of the oldest symbols of the history of the Canary Islands and has existed since the time of the aboriginals.

Even at that time, they formed part of their myths, according to Fray Juan Abreu de Galindo in his "History of the Conquest", who wrote that the inhabitants of Gran Canaria and La Palma shared the belief that demons appeared to them "like great fleecy dogs".

Archaeological excavations in several burial caves in Tenerife have shown that the dog was buried with his master, so it could "guide the soul to the region of the dead", writes historian, Manuel Curtó, author of the book, "El perro de presa canario, su verdadero origen". (The true origin of the Presa Canario.)

Nevertheless, in spite of these facts, there are other explanations for the name of the archipelago:

Historian, José Juan Jiménez, of the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (Museum of Nature and Man) in Tenerife, says the Canaries, in reality, owe their name to the "cannis marinus", a species of large monk seal that populated the coasts until the 15th Century.

Via the extinction of this species, brought about by the colonizers, attracted by their skins and, a translation error by Pliny, left out their existence entirely and turned history towards the dogs.

Contrary to what happened with the seals, the mixing of breeds between local and foreign dogs, did not bring an end to those native to the islands, because the Bardino has survived to the present day.

The relevance of dogs in the Canaries since the aboriginal era, has given their inhabitants an identity of their own and, has served them well for three centuries. Their image has been one of the most representative of the islands, becoming characteristic of them.

The positioning of the dogs, on guard, horizontal, on the shield and the flag of the Canary Islands, which at the moment are unmovable, because to change it would require a change in the Statute, is not an aesthetic one, but one that represents the force of the animal.

The English dogs that decorate the plaza of Santa Ana, in Vegueta, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which arrived in the island in 1895 are another example of the tradition of the dog in the Canaries.

Currently, preparations are underway for a project, "Gran Can", organized by the Town Hall in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in which 60 large sculptures of dogs, in fiberglass, will be placed in the streets of the city from October to December.

A clear sign that, even if they change the corporate image of the Government of the Canaries, the dog will, for the moment, maintain it's position in Canarian tradition.

El can, símbolo de Canarias, comienza a 'desaparecer'

La Gomera Island Council Go Into The Wine Business

Barrels in La Gomera

The Island Council of La Gomera announced that it is to buy a "quality grape" to be made into a wine which identifies with the island.

After recently taking over the management of the island's winery, previously in private hands, they also announced that, since the beginning of this month, they have had people working in the field helping the growers to obtain the best results from the harvest.

Vines are mainly grown on the north and north east of the island of Tenerife's neighbour, La Gomera, currently produced under seven labels, four of which have certification of origin quality marks.

The island winery has capacity to produce 60,000 liters of wine.

El Cabildo gomero compra uva de calidad para elaborar un vino que identifique a la isla

Canary Island wines have been enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years for the first time since they held a position of prestige in the 16th - 19th Centuries. Shakespeare himself alluded to the famed Canary Sack in his play the Merry Wives of Windsor and the English even opened a consulate on Tenerife at one point for the sole purpose of supervising the commercial trade of the wine.

The Canary & Balearic Islands Wine.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Rain of Shooting Stars

The Canarian Astrophysics Institute (IAC) announced yesterday that the best days to see the Perseid meteor shower, associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, are the nights of August 11th and 12th.

Although the maximum activity will occur at 18:29 hours (Universal Time) on Aug 12, the best time to view the Perseids, on both days, is in the early hours of the morning, once the moon has set.

The Perseids can be seen with naked eye, provided you don't have too much light interference nearby. If you live in the countryside (or even better, under clear Canary Island skies), you should be able to see the rain of stars perfectly from your own house.

La máxima actividad de las "Perseidas" se producirá el 12 de agosto

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Cuban Hip-Hop Group, Orishas in Tenerife


Cuban hip-hop group, Orishas, whose latest, third, album, El Kilo, has achieved a gold disc in Spain, are to play a concert in Arafo, Tenerife on Friday, August 12, 2005. Their sound is a fusion of Latin rhythms, with a real horn section and soulful singing, overlaid with powerful rap with a positive message. Originally from Havana, this Cuban collective met up with French hip-hop producers in Paris and now reside in Spain.

Photograph by Henryk Kotowski [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Candelaria Expects 200,000 Pilgrims

Basilica de Candelaria, Tenerife during the fiestas de Candelaria

The town of Candelaria expects around 200,000 visitors on August 14th and 15th, principle days of the celebrations in honour of the Virgen de Candelaria - Black Madonna - patron of the Canary Islands.

Thousands of pilgrims - and tourists - will desend upon the small town on the south west of Tenerife during the next few days. As well as the traditional romeria festival and the offering to the Virgin (this year to be held on the Sunday afternoon of the 14th, instead of it's usual date of the 15th) there are various acts planned beginning with a concert by Los Sabandeños, the Canary Islands most famous folk group, on Saturday, Aug 6 at 22:00.

On Sunday, August 7, at 11:30 there is an exhibition of native sports in the square. Various other folk groups, concerts, song and piano recitals take place throughout the week.

Want more local sport? No problem. From 19:30 on Saturday, August 13, there is Lucha Canaria, Canarian wrestling, to watch.

Sunday, August 14, has the main events of the romeria (traditional style folk festival) and the offering to the Virgin; a procession with representatives from all over the archipelago. After this will be the reenactment of the guanches discovering the icon, then from 22:00 until 06:00 the plaza in Candelaria will be filled with music.

Those wanting to make the traditional pilgrimage on foot are reminded that it is prohibited to walk along the hard shoulder of the motorway and, if you are coming down the mountain roads, be particularly aware of the high fire risks at this time of year.

The TITSA bus company are laying on free buses that will bring walkers between Santa María del Mar and Barranco Grande.