The Ethnographic Museum of Porrúa

One thousand stories of Porrúa

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The Ethnographic Museum of Porrúa

The beautiful town of Porrúa, part of council of Llanes, is famous for preserving its own identity and for being the home of an important museum. This museum contains humble jewels which were a part of Asturian social life in the towns and it is of great historical value. The museum was opened in the year 2000 and was formed as the result of an initiative started within its own neighbourhood. The Llacín Cultural Association which is in charge of organizing the popular annual Mercaú Astur of Porrúa also put a lot of effort into the initiative.

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The museum is formed by rows of houses facing each other, which are in turn joined by a narrow corridor. They are “little Asturian houses” and seem hospitable at first glance.

We begin our visit at the principal house, whose architecture is characterised though the mixture of stones and traditional wood as main materials. The house has an avant-garde window on the second floor. In this area one of the main expositions of this museum is located: objects, tools and various items related to the traditional activities of the rural Asturian environment. Most of them are items of domestic use but we can also find some from the pre-industrial period and those used solely for craftsmanship. They all have their own identity and the same sociological character.

Information panels tell us of how cheese and butter were developed, and became able to be preserved if they were not needed on that day. The ingenious Asturians established the further development of dairy products, and all the tools they used in the process are displayed in this room, showing us variations in method according to area.

It is also important to mention people who build roofs. An important group that we should pay homage to for the job they did and for the shortages they suffered. Since the 17th century it has been known that some llaniscos peasants were moving temporarily to other places in Asturias, Castilla and Vizcaya to manufacture tiles and bricks. All of the roof builders who came from Llanes invented a special secret language to communicate to each other. This secret language was known as “xiriga” (jargon).

We can continue our visit and discover more signs of Asturian activity from old times. Here, we find iron in the forges and the workshops where many objects were made using iron wrought in the smithies, where tools and old items were also repaired. We can also find iron tools that have been manufactured for home use since the 19th century.

In this museum there is a place for remembering those agricultural jobs. There is a row of different types of plows that allows us to compare the improvement and technological advances as the time passes. The oldest machines are made of wood with a sharp point or “reja” made of forged iron.

One of the most popular rooms in this museum is used to expose a unique machine which was used for clearing cereals and pulses. It is simply a wooden box with a crank that helps it to select the grains. Without a doubt, it causes us to admire the inventiveness of traditional Asturias.

Now, we can admire the yarn spinning machines, the piles of wool, the dyes and the typical dresses of that period. Next to this room is the carpenter’s corner.

We can find everything in this etnographic museum, with regards to the traditional economy of the time including an old stable and the room used for the production of cider, which is very old and almost mystical.

A time travel in Porrúa

The creators of this museum also paid attention to the most popular ethnography related to daily life. In the old houses we can find firewood kitchens, with a big dish full of beans and even a black and white photograph of the grandparents, so old that it can appear ghostly.

Finally, we leave the house-museum with the thought that we leave behind a time dominated by the routine of traditional jobs. By visiting this museum we have an idea of the social relationships in a small community in which work and spare time were very much linked.

After the tour we still have time to buy a souvenir in the shop.

It is surprising that when we leave this place we are shocked back into the reality of the 21st century in the middle of a modern Asturian town. The present time is only shown in the new cars and some modern buildings. Out of this place, we can see a tree in which the avocado pears grow rapidly. Its trunk and branches look at the sky. The pamphlet of this museum informs us that this tree was planted in 1906 and it is thought to have been taken from Mexico.

If we want to complete this visit, we can visit Porrúa and find other things that have remained untouched through time. We can compare them to the items we have today and admire the progress over the passage of time.

Texto: © Ramón Molleda para desdeasturias.com

Information of interest

Direction:
Barriu Llacín s/n.
33509 Porrúa (Llanes)

Contact telephone: 985 40 25 47

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Latitud: 43.4112968
Longitud: -4.7993088

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