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Andre Mariaren Jasokundearen eliza (Alaitza)

Sarrera

Alaitza herri txikian Euskal Herriko elizarik harrigarrienetariko bat dugu. Kanpotik, abside erdi borobil bat, nabe bi eta elizpe bat dituen tenplu erromaniko bat ikusten dugu. Hala ere, benetako aberastasuna barruan aurkitzen dugu, erdi aroko oso misteriotsua den xehetasun handiko margo zabal bat topa dezakegu. Dokumentuetan agertzen den herriaren lehenengo informazioa 1257an topatzen dugu “Halayça” izenpean. XIV. mendetik aurrera informazioa biderkatzen da. Momentu horretan berrikuntza garrantzitsuak egingo dira elizan.

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Margoen aurkikuntza

Laurogeigarren hamarkadan, Juan José Lecuonak, herriko apaiza zena, eskailera bat hartu eta labana txiki batekin, absidea estaltzen zuen kare geruza askatzen hasi zen. Bere harridurako, irudi handiago baten zati txikia zirudien zaldi baten irudia agertu zen. Berehala hasi ziren tenpluaren zaharberritze lanak gaur egungo margoak ezagutarazi zituztenak. Galdutako zatiak (eta ondorengo suntsipenak, XIX. mendean egindako argi zuloa, adibidez) eta irudi osoa betetzeko asmoz, margo laranja erabili zen margo bien (zaharra eta berria) arteko ezberdintasuna bermatuz.

Antzinako argazkiak

Alaitzako argazki zaharrek azken hamarkadetan eliza honek jasan dituen aldaketa garrantzitsuak erakusten dituzte. Argazkietan garai batean absidean zegoen erretaula ikusten dugu eta absidean ireki zen argi zuloa ere ikusten da. Argazki guztietan horma txuriak, karez estaliak, ondoren agertuko ziren irudirik gabe agertzen dira. Era berean, kanpotik , laurogeigarren hamarkadan bota zen hegoaldeko hormari atxikitua zegoen apaiz etxea ikusten da.

 

Andre Mariaren Jasokundearen eliza

Absidea

Absidearen kanpoaldeko horman antzinako hilarri erromatar bat kokatuta dago, inguruko elizetan ohikoa zenez (Okariz edo Durruma Donemiliagan gertatzen den bezala) eta lurralde honetan antzinako erromatarren izatearen froga bezala balio du.

Tenpluan sartzeko portada bi daude, adin berekoak (XII. eta XIII. arteko mendekoak) erromaniko berantiarrak biak. Bere garaian atxikitutako apaiz etxea dela eta, elizaren sarrerako atea, xake itxurako dekorazioarekin, suntsituta dago goiko partean

Tenpluaren barrualdea

Behin barruan, elizak bi nabe ditu, eskuinekoa ezkerrekoa baino estuagoa da. Arkuak mentsuletan sostengatzen dira. Iparraldeko hormakoak ordez zutabeetan sostengatzen dira. Ikerketa arkeologikorik gabe zaila da jakitea nabe biak garai berekoak diren edo atxikitutako nabea berantiarra den. Bataiotegia alboko nabean izan zen hasiera batean, Pedro eta Pablo eskultura barrokoekin batera. Gaur egun elizaren oinetan daude pieza guzti hauek.

Erretaula, XVII. mendekoa eta alboko nabean dagoena, Ama Birjinaren Jasokundeari dedikatua dago eta hasiera batean absidean izan zen, irudiak estaltzen.

Margo gorriak

Elizaren margoei buruz hitz egin baino lehen, bi epe oso ezberdin bereizi behar dira. Absidearen goiko partean, presbiteriotik gora, margo originalak daude, zaharrenak. Inposta marra horretatik behera (inposta barne) bigarren epe batean garatu ziren margoak, XIV eta XV mendeen artean. Epe horretan tenplu osoa apaindu zen, adibidez, hegoaldeko leihoaren ingurunean ikus daitekeen zatitze eta landare dekorazioa, buztingorri kolorekoak.

Lehenengo etapa (XII. mendea)

Margo hauek sortu zirenetik, teoria anitz egon dira. Gehien errepikatu den bat, XIV. mendean kokatzen ditu margo hauek eta Naiarako gudarekin lotzen ditu irudiak. 1367an gertatutako guda bat da. Bertan Gaztelako Pedro Iak, Printze Beltzari (Galeseko printzea eta Akitaniako Dukea zena) laguntza eskatu zion, Ehun Urteko Guda zela eta, Frantzian bere armada boteretsua zuelarik. Tropa horiek Salvatierra hiriburutik gertu pasatu ziren eta hori dokumentuetan agertzen da. Hori dela eta, historialariek pentsatu zuten Alaitzako margoek horrekin zerikusirik zutela. Hala ere, bataila horren data oso berandu izan zen eta ezin da margoekin inongo harremanik justifikatu.

Alaitzako margoak bereziak badira ere, lurralde honetan, adibide anitzeko garaiko arte korronte baten barruan koka ditzakegu. Arabako XII-XIII. mendeko elizetan kare kapa batekin estaltzen zen horma eta horren gainean hori eta gorri koloreko dekorazioak ezartzen ziren. Dekorazio lehenengo kapa hori Legardan, Gopegin, Añuan, Arbulun eta Obekurin (besteen artean) ikus daiteke. Berez, korronte edo ohitura hori kontuan hartuta, Alaitzako elizan aurkitzen dugun dekorazioa ere tenpluaren eraikuntzaren bukaeraren garaikoa dela pentsatzen dugu.

Obekuri

Añua

Arbulu

Lurraldean dauden eta data ezagutzen dugun ezaugarri berdintsuen eraikuntzekin konparatuta, eliza honen margo gehienak XII. mendean egin zirela baieztatu dezakegu. Horregatik, ezin dugu onartu eliza bukatu eta 200 urte beranduago, Naiarako guda gerta zenean, gangak betetzen dituzten irudiak egin zirenik. Gainera, froga daiteke soldaduek eramaten dituzten armak XII. mendekoak direla eta ez Printze Beltzaren armadarenak

Sekuentzia piktorikoa

Jarraian, margoen konposaketari buruz hitz egingo dugu. Azalpen hau proposamen bat baino ez da, margo hauek era eta ordena ezberdinetan irakur baitaitezke:

Absideko arroaren konposizio-eskema

Gazteluaren setioa. Gaztelua muino baten gainean eraikia dago urkabe batzuen gainean eta egurrezko korridore batzuekin inguruan. Pertsonaia batzuk astamakilekin, baleztekin, likidoak eta harriak jaurtitzen dituzte.

Zaldunak. Behealdean, zortzi zaldun (lau alde bakoitzean) setioa praktikatzeko prest daude. Ezkerrean, dotore jantzita (bai bera eta bai bere zaldia), errege koroadun bat agertzen da, zutoihal nagusia daramana.

Soldaduak eta zentauroa . Erregearen gainean, oinezko soldadu batzuk zaldunei erasotzen saiatzen ari direla dirudi. Armamentu militarra daramate. Horien artean zentauro bitxi bat agertzen da. Bere sinbolismoa oso eztabaidatua izan da (irudi kristologikoaren kontsideraziotik gaizkiaren irudiraino).

Hileta. Lerro batek gaztelua eliza batekin lotzen du, non pertsonaia batzuk, bizkarrean hildako bat eramaten dute. Elizan, kanpai-jole batek indarrez jotzen ditu kanpaiak.

Emakumeen prozesioa. Eskuineko zaldunen gainean, emakume prozesio bat (bakoitzak elementu ezberdin bat daramala) ikusten da. Prozesio hau, barruan bi emakume dituen eraikin batean bukatzen da.

Guda eszena. Oilar handi baten gainean, zaldun bat orein bat harrapatzen saiatzen ari dela dirudi, baina bere armamentuak adierazten digu ez dela ohiko ehiza-eszena bat, baizik eta borrokaren une bat.

Presbiterioaren gangen konposaketa

Erditzea. Ezkerrean, ukitu bat daukan ezkondutako emakume bat ume bat erditzen ari da. Azpian balde bat ikusten da, garai hartako erditzeetan erabiltzen zena.

Prozesioa. Eskuetan eskaintza bat daramaten emakume ildaskatuen prozesioa eliza batera hurbiltzen ari da. Guztiek jantzi aberatsak dituzte, klase sozial altuari erreferentzia egiten diona..

Eraso saiakera. Gizon bat aizto edo ezpata handi batekin eraso bat geldiarazten ari dela dirudi.


Presbiterioko gangaren konposizio-eskema (epistolaren aldean)

Beheko zerrenda. Etxeko animaliak, hala nola behiak eta zaldiak.

Bigarren zerrenda. Erromesak (agian erlijiosoak, gurutze bat duen makila bat daramatelako).

Hirugarren zerrenda. Militar itxura daukan adar-jolea. Gerrian ezpata bat darama

Bigarren etapa ( XIV-XV. mendea)

Elizak erreforma garrantzitsu bat jasan zuen XIV. mendeko bukaeran eta XV. mendeko hasieran. Ez dago dokumenturik frogatzeko, baina xehetasun handiko apainketa bat jaso zuela nabaria da. Landare dekorazioa, ordez, absidean aurkitzen ditugun irudien antza dute. Horregatik ondoriozta dezakegu, dekorazio berria egin zenean, zaharra ikus zitekeela eta elkarren arteko oreka bisual bat bilatu zela apaintzerakoan.

Inzkripzioa (XIV-XV mendea)

Inposta marraren beheko partean bigarren garai honen inskripzio bat dugu. Mollà i Alcañizen ikerketaren arabera, inskripzioa XV. mende erdikoa da, Tomas Akiniko Deunak idatzitako Corpus Christi mezaren antifona batetik aterata da. Honako itzulpena du: “ Fruitu salutiferoa Jaunak eman zuen bere heriotzean guk jateko” eta “ken ezazu… jaunarentzat… eta biluzik (a) gehenna”. Lehenengo zatiak, Kristoren heriotzari buruz hitz egiten du askatzaile bezala. Gai hau (bekatuen askatasuna eta gizadiaren askatasuna Kristoren sakrifizioa gurutzean dela medio) ez dago urrun Gazeon agertzen den irudien konposaketatik. la gehenna».

Azkenik, merezi du tenpluaren oinetako leihate bitxiari begiratzea. Bigarren fase honetako obra ere bada. Leiho sareduna da, eremu laiko bati dagokiona (jauregi eta etxe pribatuetan ohikoa) eta ez eliza bati. Elementu arkitektoniko honek funtsezko arrastoa ematen digu ulertzeko, probabilitate maila handiarekin, eliza, bere sorreratik XV. mendean barneratzen den garai aurreratu bateraino, tenplu pribatu bat izan zela. Ez da harritzekoa eliza horien patronatu laikoa, izan ere, asko dira dokumentuetatik abiatuta ikas daitezkeenak.

KOKAPENA

Argazki-kredituak:

Egungo argazkiak: © Alava Medieval / Erdi Aroko Araba

Antzinako argazkiak: Arabako Lurralde Historikoko Artxiboa

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The church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Alaitza)

Introduction

In the small town of Alaitza, we find one of the most astonishing churches in the Basque Country. What we can see from the outside is a simple Romanesque temple with a semicircular east end with two naves and a porch. However, the true wealth is found inside, as it contains an extensive and rich programme of medieval painting that has become an enigma hard to solve. The documentary news about the origins of the town is late and it was in 1257 when we first find it by the name of “Halayça”. The information is multiplied from the 14th century, a key stage in which we will see that a series of important renovations are made in the church.

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The discovery of the paintings

In the early eighties, the parish priest of the town, Juan José Lecuona, took a ladder and, with a knife in his hand, started to scratch the white layers of lime that covered the semi-dome of the apse. To his surprise, the outline of a horse appeared on a location that hinted at the existence of a large painting. The restoration of the temple began soon, bringing to light the collection that can be seen today. The lost parts (and the subsequent destructions, such as the opening of a skylight made in the 19th century) were finished with a more orange paint that allowed distinguishing the intervention and, thus, visually completing the decorative development.

Old photographs

The old photographs of Alaitza show us the important changes suffered by the church in the last decades. We see how the altarpiece took up part of the east end and also the large skylight that was opened on the apse to light up the altar. All of them show us the white walls, whitewashed, still without trace of the images that will appear some time later. Likewise, on the exterior, we can see the parish house that was attached to the south wall, demolished in the eighties.

 

The church of Our Lady of the Assumption

The apse

On the exterior of the east end of the church an old Roman tombstone was located, something habitual in the churches of the area (as Ocáriz or San Román de San Millán) and that serves as a distant witness about the intense Romanization of this region.

The temple is accessed through a double facade, both from the same period (between the 12th and 13th centuries), of late Romanesque style. The facade that gives access to the church, decorated with the characteristic Jaca-style checkered design, is destroyed on its upper part due to the parish house that was attached in the past.

Inside the temple

Once inside, the church is arranged in two naves, the one on the right being noticeably narrower than the main nave. The transverse arches are supported on corbels, while they rest on pilasters on the north wall. It is hard to specify, in the absence of archaeological studies, if the naves date from the same period or if, on the contrary, the attached nave dates from a later stage. The baptistery was originally located in the side nave, decorated with the baroque sculptures of Saint Peter and Saint Paul that are today semiabandoned at the feet of the temple.

The altarpiece of the side nave, dated from the late 17th century and dedicated to the Lady of the Assumption, was initially located in the east end of the church, hiding part of the paintings.

The red paintings

Before commenting on the paintings of the church, it is important to distinguish at least two well-defined stages. From the impost that runs through the apse and the presbytery upwards are the original paintings, the oldest of them all. From this line down (impost included), the second pictorial stage is developed, which, due to the characteristics that we will mention, could be dated between the 14th and 15th centuries. The entire temple was redecorated during this same period, since many remains of simple fragments in red iron oxide and vegetal rinceaux can be seen across the perimeter of the south large window.

First stage (12th century)

From the very moment of its appearance, diverse theories emerged in very varied directions. One of the most repeated ones is the one that sets its chronology within the 14th century that, besides, links its representation to the Battle of Nájera, a battle fought in 1367 that brought King Peter I of Castile face to face with his half-brother Henry of Trastámara, who aspired to the Castilian throne. In this battle, Peter I asked the Black Prince (Prince of Wales and Duke of Aquitaine) for help, whose powerful armies were in France in the context of the Hundred Years’ War. Those troops passed through the close town of Salvatierra in a well-documented deployment, which has made historians imagine that the paintings had some kind of connection to all this. However, the late date of this battle makes this link unsustainable.

Although the case of Alaitza is exceptional, the truth is that it is framed within a pictorial current that has multiple examples in the province. The churches of the 12th-13th centuries in Álava were originally finished with a plaster of white lime on which some decorations were made in ochre hues or red iron oxides. This decoration can be seen in Legarda, Gopegui, Añua, Arbulo or Obécuri, among many others, this one being the first layer of paint. Therefore, by comparison with these collections, the decoration of the semi-dome of the apse and of the vault of the chancel (where all the figures are) has to be contemporary with the time when the temple was completed.

Obécuri

Añua

Arbulo

Compared to buildings of similar characteristics preserved in the area and of which we have approximate datings, we can affirm that good part of the paintings of the church were carried out in the 12th century. Therefore, it is not coherent to think that the church was completed in the specified dates and that, almost 200 years later, when the Battle of Nájera was fought, the motifs that today cover the vaults were painted. In addition, we can see that the armament that the soldiers carry is not that of the Black Prince’s army, but it rather fits with the chronology of the 12th century.

Pictorial sequence

We will comment on the pictorial sequence next. It is only a suggestion, as the paintings accept numerous reads in different orders.

Compositional scheme of the apsidal basin

Siege of the castle. It is a castle built on a hill with scaffolds and wooden corridors around. Some characters defend it with spears, crossbows and throwing liquids or blocks of stone.

Knights. On the lower part, eight knights (four on each side) are ready to lay siege to the castle. On the left, richly dressed (both him and his horse), a king with a crown appears, carrying the main standard.

Soldiers and centaur. Above the king, some foot soldiers seem to try to attack the knights. They carry military armament. Among them, a curious centaur appears. Its symbolism has been very controversial (from considering it as a Christological image to an image of evil).

Funeral. A line connects the castle with a church, over which some characters carry a corpse on their shoulders. In the church, a bell ringer rings the bells loudly.

Procession of women. Over the knights to the right, a procession of women (each one carrying a different element) goes to a small temple where two women are inside.

Battle scene. On a huge cock, a knight seems to try to capture a deer, although his armament shows us that it is not a usual hunt scene, but an instant of the combat.

Compositional scheme of the presbytery vault (presbytery side)

Childbirth. On the left, a married woman in a headdress is giving birth to a child whose head is sticking out between her legs. Below we see a bucket, an element used in childbirth.

Procession. A procession of women in mourning who carry a ball (or knob) on their hands approaches a church. All of them wear rich costumes, which alludes to an elevated social class.

Attempted assault. An attempted assault on someone in bed that appears to be stopping a man with a large knife or sword.

Compositional scheme of the presbytery vault (epistle side)

Lower strip. Domestic animals, such as cows and horses.

Second strip. Pilgrims (maybe religious, since they carry a cane with a cross).

Third strip. A military-looking horn player with a sword on his belt.

Second stage (14th-15th centuries)

The church seems to have undergone an important renovation probably in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. There is no documentation that supports it, but we can see a change in the pictorial decoration with a more detailed style. The vegetal rinceaux, however, remind us of those that decorate the semi-dome of the apse, so it would not be strange to imagine that, when this new decoration was made, the old was still uncovered and that there was an aim to visually harmonize the whole.

Inscription (XIV-XV centuries)

Below the impost, we see an inscription that also corresponds to this second stage. According to the research of Mollà i Alcañiz, the inscription would date from the mid-15th century, from an antiphon of the Mass of Corpus Christi written by Saint Thomas Aquinas. The translation would be: “The salutary fruit was given by the Lord at the moment of his death so that it was tasted” and “pull it up… for the lord… and naked the Gehenna”. It is a text that, in its first part, alludes to Christ’s death with a redemptive tone. As for the theme (the redemption of the sins and the salvation of humanity motivated by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross), it is not far from what we can see in the iconographic programme of Gazeo.

Finally, it is worth having a look at the odd window at the feet of the temple. This work also belongs to this second stage. It is an arrowslit, typical of lay environments (usual in palaces and private houses) and inappropriate for a church. This architectural element gives us a fundamental clue to understand that, most probably, the church was a private temple from its origins to a late stage that enters the 15th century. The lay patronage of these churches is not unusual and many of them can be studied from the documents

LOCATION

Photo credits:

Current photographs: © Alava Medieval / Erdi Aroko Araba

Old photographs: Archive of the Historical Territory of Álava

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