The 'Tarlà' of the Argenteria

ne of the most typical figures of Girona is that of the Tarlà, a dummy which, hanging from a bar which runs across the street in Carrer de l’Argenteria, spins around the bar on certain days of the year. The dummy has a wooden head and fabric body filled with sawdust. He has rigid arms, jointed at the shoulder, and his hands are fixed to a bar (previously made of wood but now made of iron) which can be turned by using a handle on one of the balconies where the bar rests.

ormerly, the dummy was used during the fiestas of Argenteria on about the 28th August to celebrate Sant Agustí’s day, the patron saint of the street. The fiestas of Sant Agustí are no longer celebrated but in order to preserve the tradition the dummy is put up during the spring fiestas in the Rambla and Argenteria, around the time of Sant Jordi’s day.

he legend behind this event is very well-known amongst the locals: In a time when the plague was the one of the most firmly entrenched collective fears due to its mortal consequences, there was a small outbreak of this terrible epidemic in Argenteria where, as the name suggests, the silversmiths of the city of Girona lived and worked. To prevent passing on the disease to the rest of the city, the street was placed in quarantine and closed and barred at both ends with a barricade made of canes, which were also placed on the windows and doors as it was believed that this would prevent the spread of infection.
or the whole time that the residents were obliged to remain in isolation without being able to leave their neighbourhoods, the long hours of melancholy and boredom were enlivened by a popular character called “el Tarlà”, who capered around in the middle of the street like a circus acrobat. In order to commemorate this congenial character, a dummy was made and hung from a rotating bar, mimicking the pirouettes of his flesh and blood predecessor.

Llegendes i Misteris de Girona
Carles Vivó
Quaderns de la Revista de Girona, 24
Diputació de Girona Novembre 1989

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