“Los buches de Arrecife”: One of the oldest carnival traditions in Lanzarote
The ‘Buches’ are men who, during Arrecife Carnival, disguise themselves with clothes that today are known as “typical” and carry swollen fish bladders (buches), hitting people they meet, with them.
These swollen bladders are really fish stomachs. Verbal sources tell us that at the beginning of the 20th century the Buches only went onto the street on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of Carnival, suspending their outings on Ash Wednesday and Pinata Sunday.
The fact that the people of Arrecife disguise themselves using the costume of old peasants, constitutes a kind of cultural transgression or symbolic inversion in which a presumably cultured and civilized citizen is transformed into a ‘maúro’ or ‘ campurrio ‘, which is what the uncultivated peasant, with rough manners, is called in Arrecife. We know, perfectly well, that many of the families of a higher social position in Arrecife during the early twentieth century had their ‘field suit’ to dress as a ‘Buche’ in the carnival.
In this sense, it seems to us that the act of ridiculing oneself, by disguising oneself with peasant costumes of the old people, is a carnivalesque custom deeply rooted in Arrecife, because nowadays, there are still many people who choose to dress as “old man” or as “old lady”, using traditional costumes that some farmers of Lanzarote still use.
Verbal sources tell us how the Buches of the early twentieth century dressed, indicating that they were dressed ‘de campo’, that is, in the costumes that peasant folk of Lanzarote used to wear years ago. This fact became later in the twentieth century, one of the main sources of information enabling us to rescue and determine the form of male attire, which we recognise today as being the ‘typical costume of Lanzarote’.
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