The Moss Men of Bejar
There is a local legend in Béjar dating back to the 12th century during the reign of King Alfonso VIII of Castile in which local men are said to have camouflaged themselves in moss gathered from the local forests so as to hide their approach to the gates of a Muslim fortress. So the legend goes, under the cover of darkness they waited for the drawbridge to open and then ambushed the guards before taking the town. The guards are said to have retreated in terror after seeing the appearance of the moss-men who they believed were monsters. To this day, there is an annual Corpus Cristi parade in Béjar in which the local townspeople cover themselves in moss and march through the streets of Béjar.
The Moss man parade takes place every June during the Corpus Cristi parade. The locals are said to through flower petals on the Moss men and women as they walk past. I will be in Béjar this June during the parade and I'm hoping to be a participant! The parade takes place during my residency and exhibition Re/Inquisition: Return to the Fortress at El Casino Obrero/ Museo Judio David Melul in Béjar Spain.
Hopefully by the end of June I will have my own photos of me covered from head to toe in Moss, walking through the streets of my ancestral village. In the meantime, I have begun a series of Moss Woman portraits.
20" x 16"
oil on panel
(please contact artist to inquire about purchase)
This self portrait from my Aura Portrait series, explores feelings of vulnerability in returning to a land where my ancestors experienced persecution and expulsion. Inspired by the Moss men tradition, I am creating self portraits in which I am protected and camouflaged as I return to Béjar.
To get the latest posts and news from the blog sign up for my newsletter Art of Julie Gladstone
If you are called to support this project please consider donating to my Gofundme page