February 21, 2020

In my travels...

By Cristina Tamames
In my travels...


As I travel around, I love getting my camera ready and click that button to capture what catches my eyes in every corner of my walks through the different places I visit. The truth is that it is not the big and heavy camera with a film inside that I carried everywhere only some years ago, when I had to think twice before taking a photo so I would not have a huge collection of rolls to carry around and develop at my return…now, with my phone in hand, it is so much easier to keep on capturing each moment of the adventures of each trip.

As I walk the streets wherever I am, I can see beauty in so many places, the inspiration that moves me, right there, in front of my eyes that I hope will move you, through my work, on some level too!

Let me share a couple of things that got my attention as soon as I arrived to my first destination just a few months ago!

We were hungry and were guided to this little store that had some wonderful specialties of Salamanca, right there, in the streets of San Pedro, (in the South of Spain). Delicious “Jamón de Jabugo", the best white asparagus, amazing cheeses, all kinds of olives, the best canned tuna fish, “chorizo and lomo” and the list goes on and on... As we were deciding what to get for our dinner that night, I spotted this extraordinary bronze doorknob, I was so drawn to it that I started asking questions as I was taking a few photos!
The owner of the place is from Salamanca, and he wanted to have a little piece of his roots in his very own store.  Apparently, somebody felt so much in love with the first doorknob he had, that this generous man gave it to him, and bought another one to replace it.
Absolutely gorgeous, this piece on the door that all the locals touch daily as they come in and out of this specialty store to get their food for their dinners at home.

The legend says this piece is rooted in the lands of Salamanca… The origin of “El botón charro” has some mystery around it and quite a few theories of when it was created…. It is known to start being popular at the beginning of the XVII century, when it was used on the typical folkloric dress of Salamanca.

"El botón charro" is passed from great grandmother, to grandmother, to mother and so on…it is a protection amulet for those who wear it. Stories that come from words of mouth passed through time, say that this beautiful “botón” represents Salamanca in the center with a big silver bead surrounded by the eight “comarcas” that compose this province.

In the XVII century it was given to the bride to be as a ring and instead of just the silver beads representing each place, they would use stones. The groom and the bride had to wait to get married until all the stones would fall out of the ring. Although this seems impossible to happen today, when we think, way back then, women would work hard with their hands attending so many different tasks around their village, that those stones would fall without much effort…that way the groom would have some time to save money for their future life together, a year or two or perhaps even more?...

In the case of people with a more stable life, the ring would only have a central stone surrounded by eight soldered silver beads, so there was only one stone to wait for to fall before getting married, which really was not that important as they had some savings of some sort from both sides of their families to get married and start their lifes together.

Another way of investing way back then, was getting a necklace of “charra” silver beads when the year was a good one in their farms. Whenever there was a drought or too much rain and the farmers did not have a good year, they could sell the necklace that they had bought as an investment so their families could have food on the table!

People that were fortunate enough, would keep the necklace with all the silver beads intact and would pass it along to their daughters. If they had several daughters they would each receive the same amount of beads that they then would divide again between their daughters and so on. As the daughters got less and less beads, they would mount them in a more simple necklace with pieces of silver chain or other stones in between the “charra” beads to complete the length desired. As years went by and the necklaces were passed trough generations, in some cases, the daughters were left with only one “charra” silver bead that they would add to a necklace or a silver chain, making that piece really special for them!

The “Botones charros” are used as protection amulets for whoever uses them. Usually they were made in silver or 18kt gold, beautiful hand made pieces of jewelry with a lot of delicate filigree work around them.

As I tell you about this doorknob that I found on this corner of the South of Spain, memories start to roll taking me 37 years back to when my husband to be and I decided to adventure starting our lives together in Argentina. As I was leaving Madrid, my lovely city, knowing that I would probably never live there again, I went with my mother to get a Spanish “capa” to this wonderful special store in Madrid! As my mother and I were choosing which one to get, I spotted a couple of silver “Botones charros” that would go beautifully as the final touch for my wonderful “Capa”. At the moment I had no idea about the legends of these pieces, I just knew I loved them and had to get them to come with me as they represented my Spanish roots and the jewelry designer inside of me! Little did I know that 37 years later I would be writing about them and loving every minute of it! Wonderful memories of recent and past travels through the world and through life all entangled together on this blog post that I hope you enjoyed!

 Have I used my “Capa” much? Not really but I love to have it and who knows, now that it is fresh in my mind, I might, and now that I know the story behind “el botón charro” I will gladly pass it along with my "capa" to my daughter who, probably 40 years from now, will pass it to her daughter, my beautiful granddaughter!











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