Sketch for “The child Swallower” by Borja

The child swallower, a traditional festive figure

The “Tragachicos” (The child Swallower) in Borja, Utebo and Zaragoza, the “Gargantua” in Bilbao, the “Tragaldabas” in Logroño, the “Tarasca” in Tarascón (France), etc., different names for the same festive element and in very different parts of the world.

Tragachicos, Gargantua and Tragaldabas de Zaragoza, Borja, Bilbao and Valladolid respectively

Tragachicos, Gargantua and Tragaldabas de Zaragoza, Borja, Bilbao and Valladolid respectively

In 2011, the Borja City Council set out to recover a traditional festive element, the Tragachicos (The child Swallower). This was, and is, a figure imitating a large lizard, sometimes also called Aucán del Valle. He was walked through the streets of the town, and other towns in the region, on designated holidays to eat or swallow the children. Hence its name. Since the construction of the first tragachicos, models have been made on several occasions, but the last remains difficult to restore. For more information consult the blog of Amigos del Tragachicos de Borja at .., Así era el Tragachicos…. The Borja City Council chose to create a new one. For which he proposed a contest to design the new Tragachicos.

Different sketches folded in cardboard for current project

Different sketches folded in cardboard for current project

Now that I am in a project to build large figures, that experience comes to mind. Although it was not effectively successful when the realization of the new tragachicos fell to another company, the challenge was interesting and very constructive for me. And the review of that work also interests me because of what it can contribute to me at this time. In the realization of the sketch or “modellino” for the tragachicos I made some discoveries that have helped me in the successive sketches, and as in those that I am doing now.

Process in the elaboration of the sketch for the Tragachicos

Process in the elaboration of the sketch for the Tragachicos

Sketch of the Tragachicos (The child Swallower)

The realization of these smaller-scale sketches help a lot in the later steps and until the final one for their desirable conclusion. The basic and traditional armor, like the skeleton of the figure, called the soul of the sculpture, is not only a physical support. It is also, in my way of conceiving it, the development support of the figure. What’s more, on occasion, this sketching method has led me to convert the base structure into an exoskeleton.

Detail during sketch making

Detail during sketch making

And this occurs due to the implementation of origami during the design and construction of the figure. Because the direct folding of some elements made it easier for me to do the final modeling in the absence of texturing with the last layer. And it gives a wholeness and continuity to the elements, without additions or unions. The figure of the child swallower lent itself to it because it had to be hollow. Inside there should be a rocker mechanism that closes the dragon’s mouth when the child enters. The folding technique lent itself fully to the achievement of a hollow figure.

Process in the realization of the sketch for the Tragachicos de Borja

Process in the realization of the sketch for the Tragachicos de Borja

But the body had to be wide and rounded, therefore it was not advisable to use folding to build it. The extremities were designed based on folding, accompanying the whole in a harmonious and effective way.

Although my proposal did not manage to position itself as the model to follow in the elaboration of the final tragachicos, it served me for the elaboration of future models in a more effective and satisfactory way. And it is still a proposal with possible modifications and suitable for future projects.

Textures for the Tragachicos, of toad skin and scales respectively

Textures for the Tragachicos, of toad skin and scales respectively

For more information;

The vegetable sculpture in L’Atelier de Santi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *