Dear Friends & Family,
A quick email for those of you who were curious about the pointy heads. These explanations and the figurines do help demystify somewhat, but I dunno, there is something about not being able to see the face - Penitentes, the burkha, samurais with war masks, helmed knights, Darth Vader, Big Brother - which makes me a little uneasy. Maybe it's cultural bias, but I like to see the face (and probably read the face - after reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink) of those I deal with.
From Enrique Chagoya, who, by the way, is having an opening at the Paule Anglim Gallery in San Francisco tonight, Thursday evening, Jan 6, 5:30 to 7:30 pm:
Regarding your question about the pointy-headed guys, they are not KKK, so you may relax. They are "Penitentes" or self-whipping Catholics. There are many sects, each one with a different color of hoods and the best place to see them is during the Semana Santa (Holy Week) or Easter weekend in Seville when they all make a procession. There are some in the north of Mexico too. Sometimes, during their processions they whip themselves on their bare backs and get bloody (although in some places that is forbidden). I am not sure if there is any connection to the KKK, unless they are Catholic too, but I doubt it, plus their hoods are slightly different (the Penitente's hoods are straight up cones, and the KKK's are curved at the top and kind of flat at the end).
I bought some small Penitente figures in Seville few years ago when I was visiting Manuel Ocampo during the time he lived there. It was really fun. Seville is another city in Spain that you would love.
Enrique, I doubt that many of the KKK are Catholics, but who knows? There could be a few. We have had the good fortune to go to Seville, and we loved it.
From Jack Fulton:
The pointed head guys (as far as I know only males) are Penitentes. Church oriented of course. Catholic of course. It goes back a long way and those who 'believe' often seek penitence from their 'sins'. The idea of that odd conical hat was to serve two purposes:
1. hide the head and face of the individual paying penitence
2. provide a symbolic path one might say to heaven. The hat, pointed up, is pointed theoretically to
heaven and that's the place, for sure, that a sinner would like to end up . . so, penitence is a way to absolve one from guilt.
The Ku Klux Klan took that idea but more to hide and scare. I'm not an expert on all this in the least way but I'd imagine that during the times of the Inquisition (I'm just beginning Robt. Hughes' book on 'Goya') I'd think these characters must've represented something authoritarian. When we were in Seville and other places like Cordoba etc. you could purchase small plaster statues of them as you see below in our collection.
On Good Friday in Perpignan there is an immense procession of people in various coloured robes and pointy hats.
See link. It’s wonderful to see. Perpignan used to be Spanish I think.
I probably have 2 more travel blogs to send from this trip. Hope I'm not tiring you all out. Feel free to delete.
Era and Don