Aborigines 1

aborigines 01

Sculptures depicting Lanzarote aborigines, on display at the Casa Museo del Campesino.

Thanks to César Manrique (1919-92), a native-born artist and architect who has had a huge influence on the identity of the island, Lanzarote enjoys a surprisingly vibrant art scene for such a small population. One of his most symbolic works is Casa Museo del Campesino and Monumento a la Fecundidad, which are situated side-by-side in the centre of the island and pay homage to the farm labourer.

Built in 1968, the enormous 15m tall Monumento a la Fecundidad (Monument to fertility) is made up of old water tanks and other recycled objects and abstractly depicts a farmer standing next to his dog. Unfortunately it was raining heavily when we visited so I didn’t take any pictures 😦

The Casa Museo del Campesino (Museum house to the peasant/farmer) is laid out like a traditional Lanzarote farmstead and incorporates architectural characteristics from different regions of the island. On display in the various buildings is a collection of historical machinery and tools used by farmers and artisans, as well as exhibits of folkloric artwork from local artists. It also features an impressive underground restaurant hewn out of the rock. And the coffee and muffins from the café are to die for! Definitely worth a look if you ever visit the island.

I came across these sculptures (I forgot to note the artist!) in one of the buildings there and they apparently depict the original inhabitants of the island, known as the Guanches or Majo. Little is known about these people, but the archaeology suggests that the island may have been settled from around 1000BC. It has been speculated that they may have been of Egyptian origin due to their technique for mummifying corpses, while the more fanciful have suggested they may have been refugees from the fabled Atlantis. However, genetic evidence and linguistic fragments suggest they are likely to have derived from the Berber people. The Majo were farmers who lived in caves and rudimentary stones huts, they produced rough clay pottery and their technology was generally primitive.

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