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Alosno (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2018-11-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: alosno | tharsis |
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Flag of Alosno - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 17 August 2016

See also:

Presentation of Alosno

The municipality of Alosno (4,428 inhabitants in 2008; 19,300 ha; municipal website) is located 40 km north of Huelva.

Alosno was founded in 1444 a few kilometers from the mining village of El Portichuelo, where the acid waters released during the mining process had made agricutlture and cattle-breeding no longer possible. El Portichuelo has been known since the 13th century, as allocated by King Alfonso X the Wise to the Duchy of Medina Sidonia. From the end of the 19th century to the last decades, Alosno mostly lived from mining.
Alosno is the birth town of the flamenco singer Paco Toronjo (Francisco Antonio Gómez Arreciado, 1928-1998), famous for his "Biblic" songs and often considered as the best fandango singer ever. The National Contest of Fandangos of Huelva and its Province "Paco Toronjo" takes place every year in Alosno, self-styled "The Cradle of Huelva Fandango". The boxer Pedro Carrasco García (1943-2001), WBC World's Lightweight champion (1971-1972), with a record of 106-3-2 (66 KOs), was also born in Alosno.

Ivan Sache, 15 July 2009

Symbols of Alosno

The flag of Alosno (photo, photo, photo), adopted on 7 February 2005 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 31 March 2005 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 14 April 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 28 April 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 82, p. 28 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel, in proportions 11 : 18, white with three horizontal red stripes, centered. In the middle, the local coat of arms.

Juan José Antequera submitted on 11 April 1997 two flag proposals that were not accepted by the Municipal Council and remained unpublished. The two proposals are in proportions 11 x 18; the first design is bright blue with a mountain green border charged with eight light yellow pikes and shovels in saltire, the second design is white with a bright blue border and charged in the center with a black pike and shovel in saltire.
On 10 January 1999, the author proposed yet another flag, in the same proportions, white with three horizontal red stripes, charged in the center with the local coat of arms. Red and white were considered as colours proper to Alosno, red representing the mine's soil and white representing silver extracted from the mines for ages. The Tharsis mines, already mentioned in Biblical sources, have been indeed exploited for copper, silver and gold ore since at least 1100 BC.
The flag was approved on 22 February 1999 by the Municipal Council and inaugurated on 26 February 1999 in Huelva, when the Provincial Council officially presented the municipal flags of several municipalities in the province.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

The popular explanation of the flag refers to the classical elements: the flag shows air (white field) with three stripes representing fire, water, and earth, respectively. White is a symbol of pure light and splendour; it is also the emblem of chastity, innocence, virtue, joy and glory. Red is a symbol of strength, power, valiance and passion. The three stripes are also said to represent:
- the three main sources of income in Alosno: mining, agriculture, and cattle-breeding;
- the three expressions of the genuine local folklore {that is, flamenco]: cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), and baile (dance);
- the three traditional music instruments: guitar, tambourine, and drum and flute;
- the three ritual dances [performed during St. John the Baptist's festival]: Danza de los Cascabeleros, Fandango parao, and Danzas de las Espadas.
[Alosno Cultura blog]

The coat of arms of Alosno is prescribed by Decree No. 2,197, adopted on 20 July 1974 by the Spanish Government and published on 6 August 1974 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 187, p. 16,190 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Azure two cauldrons checky or and gules with seven snakes vert, a bordure compony seven pieces gules a castle or seven pieces argent a lion purpure (Pérez de Guzmán-Niebla), 2. Argent a mound vert ensigned with a pick sable and a shovel of the same. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown.

The arms were designed by Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent, using charges symbolizing the connection of Alosno with the Counts of Niebla - to whom Alosno was granted in the 15th century - and its main source of income, mining. The latter charges had been used since 1892, but without either official status or normalization of the design. The proposed design was approved on 20 July 1971 by the Municipal Council, superseding the Agreement adopted on 18 November 1969 and left without subsequent effect.
Cadenas' proposal showed the mining tools sable and tied by a ribbon gules.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

The Royal Academy of History deemed the design inappropriate for "plasticity" reason and proposed the design eventually accepted. The Academy's report erroneously blazons the arms as "per fess" (cortado) instead of "per pale" (partido), the error being propagated in the official Decree. The municipality of Alosno was subsequently forwarded a certificate in which the Academy acknowledged the transcription mistake and stated that the genuine arms should be "per fess".
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 1974, 181, 1:217]

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2016



Flag of Tharsis - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 9 September 2016

The submunicipal entity of Tharsis (1,840 inhabitants in 2013) is part of the municipality of Alosno.
The Municipal Council of Tharsis initiated in August 2010 the process of emancipation from Alosno. The separation was approved on 18 February 2011 during an extraordinary session of the Municipal Council of Alosno.
The Municipal Council of Alosno planned an extraordinary meeting to discuss the separation; claiming that the meeting was indeed intended to block the separation process, the Mayor and the six Councillors of Tharsis entrenched themselves in the Town Hall of Tharsis on 22 December 2013. Mediation by the Provincial Council ended the crisis in early January 2014, the controversial meeting being cancelled.
[Huelva Información, 18 February 2011; El Pais, 22 December 2013; Europa Press, 2 January 2014]

Tharsis was established as a mining village, around 1855 close to the mines exploited by the Compagnie des Mines de Cuivre de Huelva. The miner's households lived in cuarteles, that is, shabby huts of 15 sq. m in area, while the staff enjoyed wealthy houses located in Huerta Grande and Pueblo Nuevo. Attractive for the immigrated manpower, the village was soon overpopulated, which prompted the mining company to set up basic infrastructure.
The mine was acquired in 1866 by the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Co. Ltd, from Glasgow, which managed it until 1979. The next, and last, owner, the Compañía Española minas de Tharsis, winded up in 1992, in the aftermath of the pyrites crisis.
Tharsis was named by Ernest Deligny, the French engineer who initiated pyrites extraction in 1853, for a local hill, Mt. Tarse.

The flag and arms of Tharsis were proposed on 11 March 1997 by Juan JoséAntequera. The symbols, which do not appear to have been officially registered, are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 11 x 18, white with the third part at hoist red and a division made of nine flames. charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Gules a capstan or ensigned by two Phoenician naves argent in fess. A bordure or with the writing "Tharsis reges et insulae" [The Kings of Tharsis and of the Islands] in letters sable. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The capstan recalls the mining industry; the tool is not a really appropriate charge in heraldry, but it was used here for the sake of differentiation from the other symbols of mining featured on the arms of other municipalities.
The other elements of the shield allude to the alleged identification of Tharsis with the Biblical town / kingdom of Tarshish. The French clergyman Samuel Bochart (1599-1667), a noted Protestant biblical scholar, identified in his best-seller Geographia Sacra seu Phaleg et Canaan (1646) Tarshish as the lost town of Tartessos. This identification re-emerged in the first decades of the 20th century, when the Tartessian culture was re-discovered (see for instance the seminal article published by J. Schulten in 1924 in Revista de Occidente).
The identification with Tarshish is based on geographical "evidence", and, mostly, on connections with the Phoenicians and the trade of precious ore in Biblical quotes:
10:22: "Because the king had ships that sailed to Tarshish accompanied by Hiram's ships. Once every three years ships from Tarshish returned, bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks."
72:10: "May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring gifts, and may the kings of Sheba and Seba offer tribute."
2:16: "Against all the ships from Tarshish, and against all their impressive watercraft."
23:1: "A message concerning Tyre. "Wail, you ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is destroyed and is without house or harbor! From the land of Cyprus it was revealed to them."
23:6: "You who are crossing over to Tarshish— Wail, you inhabitants of the coast!"
23:10: "Cultivate your land like the Nile, you daughter of Tarshish; for there is no longer a harbor."
23:14: "Wail, you ships of Tarshish, because your stronghold is destroyed!"
60:9: "And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar, Their silver and their gold with them."
66:19: " will put up signs among them, and from them I will send survivors to the nations—to Tarshish, Libya, and Lydia, (who draw the bow), to Tubal and Greece, to the far off coastlands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. Then they will proclaim my glory among the nations."
10:9: "Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz."
27:12: "Tarshish was your business partner because of your phenomenal wealth. They traded silver, iron, tin, and lead for your merchandise."
27:25: "The ships of Tarshish serve as carriers for your wares. You are filled with heavy cargo as you sail the sea."
38:13: "Businessmen based in Sheba, Dedan, Tarshish, and all of its growling lions will ask you, "Are you coming for war spoils? Have you assembled your armies to carry off silver and gold, and to gather lots of war booty?"
1:3: "But Jonah got up and fled from the `Lord to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, secured passage on a ship bound for Tarshish, paid the fare, and boarded, intending to go with the mariners to Tarshish to escape from the Lord."
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2016