Many of the older generation of the Ibicencan country folk still wear their
traditional costumes, in the villages, towns and the countryside, especially
on a Sunday when they take a great deal of pride in their appearance when they
go out to the their local parish to attend church.
The women’s dress is particularly noteworthy, with several petticoats worn
one over the other and down to the ankles produce a crinoline effect to the
outer skirt and apron. These are invariably black, as is also the blouse, which
surmounts it. Over this is worn a beautiful hand embroidered shawl with a silk
fringe. On festive occasions the head is covered with an attractive scarf, short
enough to display the long dark plait of hair tied with brightly coloured silk
ribbon. In the fields a large soft straw sombrero is worn over the headscarf
to give added protection against he sun.
The men’s dress is much more typical European, but mainly black and usually
includes a beret or a soft black felt or straw hat of the Panama type.
The children will also stand out and attract your admiration for the spotless,
dainty way in which they are turned out, both in their school uniforms and in
their day to day clothes. It is usual for the little girls to have their ears
pierced and gold sleepers or small rings inserted shortly after they learn to
However, over the years and with the influx of more and more foreigners to
the island and the consequent employment of so many of the local boys and girls
into tourism the younger generation has now discarded its national costume for
the more orthodox dress.
Nevertheless, one aspect of the legendary traditions of the Ibicencans has
been preserved and can still be witnesses in the folklore displays which are
still given at all the annual town Fiestas.
This presents the dancing troupe an opportunity to exhibit their ancient national
dress in all its resplendence. Fewer spectaculars perhaps are the dancing itself.
Moorish in character and repetitive in execution. The leader playing a shepherd’s
flute in one hand and beating a drum with the other provides the rhythm. In
a number of the dances the troupe supplements the rhythm with large castanets,
the size of their hands. Equally unusual, but eerie and moving in its simplicity,
is an ancient Ibicencan love song given by two of the older members of the party.
Apart from dress one of the most impressive reminders of this bye-gone age
is in some of the ancient techniques employed on the farms and in the fields
of the beautiful Ibicencan countryside. Manpower and horsepower are still the
driving forces in certain parts of this wonderful way of life.
This of course enables the farmers to work the smallest plots of land, some
of which would be inaccessible to anything so modern as a tractor. You will
see the skilful terracing on the side of the hills supported by solid stone
walls. This not only levels the ground but prevents the soil from being washed
away by the rains.
Horses are used for ploughing, harrowing and rolling. In the later case a
large flat plank or even an old gate is often used for the purpose, tethered
to the horse on either side by a stout rope. Standing in the middle of the plank
the driver maintains a precarious balance hanging on to the horse’s tail in
order to control it and at the same time, adding weight to the roller.
Another interesting sight is that of threshing and winnowing the corn. After
cutting the corn by hand it is then laid out on the threshing floor. This comprises
a large circular area of hard ground or concrete. A horse is used to trample
the corn by plodding slowly round in circles, controlled by a man in the centre,
until all the grain has been expelled. The straw is then removed with forks
and the wind left to blow away the chaff. You will see a number of these threshing
floors around the island though with the innovation of the threshing machine
fewer are being used year by year. Circular hors driven water pumps are also
still in evidence. Windmills however first replaced the majority of these and
then these gave way to electric motors.
In days gone by horses and carts were used both for personal transportation
and for delivery of products, which although abundant in many parts of the island
is now insufficient to supply the needs of the tourist.
Without irrigation the crops would be not only sparse but also poor in quality
on this sun-drenched island. Therefore, for this reason land irrigation has
been developed to a fine art throughout the centuries. You will scarcely fail
to notice the concrete water ducts fed from large depositories, which are used
so extensively in the fields throughout the island.
Completion: Some of these remarkable Ibicencan ways of life will hopefully
continue for a long time. Others unfortunately, are already dying out far too
rapidly as modern civilization extends its inexorable trends more over the island.
May we enjoy it, as it is, as long as possible?