Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tres Majas y más.

Jabón Maja

We've all seen a million of these: in every souvenir shop on every road in every resort, and in every airport too. The lady with the fan on the red and black wrapper has possibly become the archetypal Spanish señorita. And it really is a great souvenir. Wash your hands with it, and whenever you bring your hand near your face you smell the rose and jasmine fragrance; that fresh, clean smell that reminds you of Spain.

Myrurgia, the company that makes Maja (check out their amazing website), was founded in Barcelona in 1916 by a Catalan sculptor, Esteban Monegal Prat.
"En 1916, el escultor catalán Esteban Monegal Prat fundó Myrurgia en el corazón de Barcelona. Desde sus inquietudes artísticas, supo dotar a su empresa de una personalidad, de una dimensión creativa y de una filosofía de innovación constante que ha perdurado, tanto en la concepción de sus nuevos productos como en el diseño de sus planes de expansión."
From a business press release, the Story of Myrurgia.
Other famous Majas

La Maja Desnuda
The Naked Maja, painted by Francisco de Goya between 1797 and 1800, is said to be the first depiction of pubic hair in Western art*.

La Maja Vestida (The Clothed Maja)
Goya also painted the same woman identically posed, but clothed. It's not known who she is.

In 1815, Goya was summoned by the Spanish Inquisition about the 'obscene' La Maja Desnuda, and consequently stripped of his position as the Spanish court painter.
From the
story of La Maja Desnuda.

Hairdo from Spain

Here's a lovely piece by Ysabel de la Rosa, an American lady living in Madrid getting herself a Spanish hairdo in Barcelona, and being complimented: "Qué maja" (how charming).

Meanings of Maja

Real Academia Española definition of 'maja':
"Dicho de una persona: Que en su porte, acciones y vestidos afecta un poco de libertad y guapeza, más propia de la gente ordinaria."

Maja, or Maia, was the name of the Roman goddess of spring, the wife of Vulcan. The month of May is named for her. In Greek and Roman mythology she was the eldest of the Pleiades, the group of seven stars in the constellation Taurus, who were the daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Her son by Zeus was Hermes.

"You shall not be called Thumbelina any more," said the tiny king. "You shall be called Maia."
from Little Tiny or Thumbelina
, Hans Christian Andersen.

Maya, 'illusion' in Hinduism, prevents us from knowing ourselves. She preoccupies us with mind games.

But, perhaps the most apposite definition of 'maja' here is that given by Wikipedia.
A majo or maja was a member of the nineteenth-century Madrid artistic scene, who distinguished themselves by their pure, gracious use of the Castilian language and their elaborate outfits.

The term later became a more general word meaning 'pretty' or 'nice looking' (synonymous with bonito). More recently, 'majo/a' is used as a synonym of simpático to refer to someone who is 'nice' or has a pleasant personality; with the diminutive 'majete' and the superlative 'majísimo'.

* I don't believe this. It'll probably come down to 'what is Art?'. Surely someone, somewhere in several thousand years or more must have picked up a burnt stick and depicted his thoughts.

Added March 24th:
Dos Majos y una Moza

Dos Majos y una Moza by Lorenzo Tiepolo (una moza: young girl, lass)


Blogger JanesDaddy said...

Great blog, packed with info. Thanks. BTW, the guy in Dos Majos y una Moza by Lorenzo Tiepolo looks like the twin brother of 1980s British comedian Les Dennis (who subsequently hosted Family Fortunes on British TV for 15 years).

10:21 PM  
Blogger Sinto Carlos said...

Thanks, janesdaddy, though I've been lax lately; tied up with other things.
Les Dennis, un majo - he'd be pleased with that.

10:43 PM  

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