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Gegants and Capgrossos in la Seu d'Urgell festival
Gegants i Cabets d'Ontinyent, Valencia, Spain
Gigantes of Barakaldo, Spain

Many Spanish festivals include costumed figures known as gigantes y cabezudos, roughly, “Giants and Big-Heads”, or, in Catalan, gegants i capgrossos. The main feature of these figures is typically their papier maché head; bodies are covered in clothing matching the costume's theme.

These figures are particularly omnipresent in festivals of Catalonia, where many cities and towns have their own gegants i capgrossos, used in the cercavila and in conjunction with other local dances.

Contents

Gigantes

Gigantes dance in Antigua, Guatemala

The giants are usually hollow figures several meters tall, with a painted papier maché head and arms, the rest of the body being covered in cloth and other clothing. Their frame is usually made of wood or aluminum, with carton-pierre—a mixture of papier maché and plaster of paris— used to make the head and hands. The frame of the body is hidden by cloth, and arms typically have no structural element to allow them to swing in the air when the giant is turned.

Within the frame is an individual controlling the giant. He carries a harness on his shoulder that is linked to the internal structure, and will move and shake the giant in a dance, usually accompanied by a local marching band. Typically, these dances will include at least two giants, the male gigante and the female giantess, or giganta, though some towns have multiple couples.

The figures usually depict archetypes of the town, such as the bourgeois and the peasant woman, or historical figures of local relevance, such as a founding king and queen, or pairs of Moorish and Christian nobles.

Cabezudos

Flintstones Cabezudos at Alcalá la Real, Jaén, Spain.

Cabezudos are smaller figures, usually to the human scale, that feature an oversized, carton-pierre head. The heads are worn with a matching costume. The person dressed as cabezudo will use one hand to hold his head, while the other hand carries a whip or pig bladder, used to freighten children or young women. Seeing through the “mouth” of the head, he will chase after these people, though he might pause to calm a freightened child.

As with the giants, the cabezudos typically represent archetypes of their town.

Other fiesta figures

Zarzuela

"Gigantes y cabezudos" is also the title of a zarzuela, set during the festival of El Pilar in Saragossa. The zarzuela focuses on the stereotypical character of the Aragonese, strong and stubborn.

Couples of gigantes dance under the noon sun in June 2005 in Ayerbe, Spain

See also

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