Saturday, March 10, 2012



Print dress

The bag (or air tank) is dressed with a printed dress in alive colours; it is a whole skin of animal body (small goat), so it gives the appearance of a girl dress, since it finishes in steering wheels. A legend counts that a time already forgotten, aragonese bagpipe had no dress and the bag was itself to the air. Somewhere on Aragon, there was a bagpiper that was blind. He had an small girl who became ill and died. Then, that aragonese bagpiper, to be able to remember his girl, he put one of the dresses of his daugther on the bag so that, in this way, whenever he played his bagpipe he was made to the idea to be embracing his dear daughter … Other aragonese bagpipers, when they saw this way of protecting the bag with that dress, they went slowly and by imitation adopting that way of dressing bagpipes and that has lasted till our days.
It is known that an old bagpiper had even several dresses that he used according to the celebration or part of celebration where he performed, so he had, among them, a dress for verbenas, another one for official acts, religious events, …It is true that this dress protects the bagpipers from the fats applied inside the bag for its waterproofing.

Snake skin

PECULIARITIES OF ARAGONESE BAGPIPE The aragonese bagpipe is usually made with boxwood (abundant bush in the Pyrenees), although lately some luthiers use ebony, wood-pink, american boxwood, ... and other noble wood that take the risk of getting cracked, due to climatical changements and moisture transmited by the breath of the bagpiper. To avoid as much as possible this non-desired effect in Aragón, since immemorial times, we have chosen to cover the bagpipe tubes with snake skin, that is to say, we use it as thermal cover, and in addition giving to the instrument greater robustness.
The sense of this peculiarity has different explanations, and according to that we have read or heard:
• the first is becase in this way women will not dare to touch it considering the fear that this reptile produces
• in the regions of Jacetania and Monegros it is said that , if it is not covered, it does not sound in the same way, other people say that always has been done in this way.
• In the aragonese region there are a lot of belongings and superstitions, being this reptile one of the main animals involved; it is known an stick covered with the same snake skin or with the head carved with knife or, going not so far, some belts are covered with snake.
• And others, it seems to be the rightest option, say that in this way the fat of the snake skin protects a so fragile wood lke boxwood, against cracking.
Even some coveres say that a cracked instrument covered with snake skin would keep its tuning as if nothing had happened to it.


PECULIARITIES OF ARAGONESE BAGPIPE PECULIARITIES OF ARAGONESE BAGPIPE Many aragonese sheperds complemented their work as bagpipers, because they did not earn much money with that so sacrified office. Those long days in the field taking care of the cattle, to fill boredom, allowed them to realise real art works carving with a knife all kind of kitchen tools, clappers for bells or even parts for bagpipes that had not been covered with snake skin, like chanter stock, bass and tenor stocks or blow pipe.
The carved reasons were flowers, sun symbols, magic animals, ... Besides that, the wood, the boxwood, allowed it with its particular characteristics of texture, hardness and finishing, being an ideal wood for polishing, decorating and manufacturing lasting objects.
Nowadays these works are done by expert carverers who can decorate in a magistral way all these parts of a bagpipe for a reasonable price.

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