Traditional Ibizan craftsmanship
Sant Josep de sa Talaia boasts a vast legacy of craftsmanship, a heritage of ancestral cultures and influences from diverse civilizations. Obviously, the most abundant forms of craftsmanship can be traced back to the Christian Reconquista of 1235, but the traditional craftsmanship of the island, and therefore of the municipality, also draws on influences from the cultures that populated the islands before that time.
Musical instruments, clothing, footwear, ceramics, decoration, domestic utensils, etc. The deep-rooted multicultural character is shown in all its splendour in each piece made by the craftsmen and women of Sant Josep.
There are several areas in which this heritage is proudly demonstrated. One of them is, without a doubt, the ball pagès, the traditional dance of the island in which both the dancers and the accompanying musicians display items of enormous value and extraordinary beauty. One outstanding example is the castanets (castanyoles). Laboriously carved in juniper wood, the castanyoles produce a spectacular sound thanks to their large size, the solidity and weight of the wood used and the precise fit of the parts. The delicately carved ornamentation on the surface customises each set and shows the personal touch of the craftsperson who made it.
The flute (flaüta) is another carefully crafted instrument. They are made from oleander wood (baladre), preferably from not too damp areas, and are usually from 45 to 48 centimetres long. The craftsperson uses iron needles of different diameters heated over a fire to perforate the wood to produce the tube of which the instrument is formed. Once the tube has been formed and the necessary holes have been made to obtain the characteristic sound, the craftsperson uses a knife to decorate it with incisions and various motifs. The musician plays the flute and drum at the same time, each instrument being played with one hand only. The drum is usually made with specially washed and treated rabbit or lamb skin sewn to the pine wood structure that serves as a sounding board.
Nature is the primary source of raw materials for all fine craftsmanship. In Sant Josep, this is clearly visible in a large number of everyday objects that characterise the classic image of the Ibizan countryside. For example, esparto grass and myrtle have been and continue to be indispensable materials with which expert hands made, and still make, the traditional and today highly popular espadrilles (espardenyes). Sometimes combined with hemp, espardenyes were the standard footwear until well into the 20th century, when the use of leather and fur began to spread.
Another plant fibre employed in craftwork comes from the palm leaf, which is used to make peasant baskets (senallons). The senalló is made from a solid braid of strips of palm leaf, ingeniously intertwined with each other to provide incredible strength and load capacity. Cane and reed are other natural materials used to make baskets of different sizes (cistelles and cistellons), which, together with earthenware items, made up some of the furnishings of Ibizan households, the other great setting for Ibizan craftsmanship.
Textiles occupy a prominent place in this respect. Traditional Ibizan clothing, especially for women, is a compendium of meticulous craftsmanship, comparable only to the mastery of the goldsmith who makes the jewels of the emprendada (traditional Ibizan dowry). The gonelles, handkerchiefs, skirts, shawls, shirts, waistcoats, etc. are meticulously crafted items with centuries of tradition, the knowledge of whose craftsmanship has been passed down from generation to generation in all its different forms: bobbin lace, hand embroidery, leather work, etc.
The Sant Josep Market, which is held every Saturday from June to October, is an excellent opportunity to discover the wide range of local crafts. From 9.30 am to 1.30 pm in front of the town hall, the market showcases the many expressions of a craft tradition that fully retains its place and status in the 21st century.