When a hobby becomes a collection of 2,200 jugs
«In 1958, my parents took me, along with my brother, to the hermitage of the Santísima Trinidad, in Espluga de Francolí. My father bought my brother a cane full of sugared almonds and me a jug. I was six years old. And that's where my hobby comes from."
This is how Rosa Iglesias explains how the craze began for those handcrafted elements that are left –or were used– to serve to conserve water and also as decoration.
Now he has 2,200 pieces, all very well preserved and neat, which occupy the ground floor of his home, located on Calle de Llorac de Solivella. An exhibition, called The Corner of the Jug, which is open to the public free of charge any day of the week and at any time, as long as it is available.
When he opens the large doorway of his house, his gaze is lost among so much mud and glass turned into art. The old garage has been filled with shelves. But there are also pieces on the floor as well as in two adjoining rooms.
Everything within the reach of visitors, who have been about 11,000 in the twelve years that the collection has been open to the public. It even has a jug-shaped thimble.
Rosa Iglesias, who is 70 years old, collaborates with all Solivella parties, when she opens the doors of her house so that everyone can see her treasure. The garage where she keeps the material is where the tractor, trailer and tools used to be for the piece. “When my husband retired, we fixed it up and decorated it,” she confesses.
But his experience with the jugs did not start very well. The day they gave him that first piece, he dropped it and broke his beak. "We hooked it up and left it in a display case for him to look at." Today he still keeps it and is part of the collection, along with the cardboard that reminds us that everything started with him.
His collection has been given step by step. Stories, Rosa has many. Her memory is splendid and her desire to speak, as she herself admits. To speak with chipella, how could it be otherwise by a neighbor of Solivella.
A group of pieces come from a peasant: “This one, in each piece, had a black pitcher to drink water. I picked them all up and kept them at home." As soon as she went on an excursion to school, she bought her jug.
«Once I went to Verdú to buy a gift for a girlfriend and I came home with my jug». Any occasion was a good one to enlarge the collection, like when her mother, for Rosa's birthday, bought her a jug, "one was in the shape of an aubergine, another a basket with lemons, etc."
many pieces given
Rosa Iglesias confesses that she has been lucky in that she has been given many pieces, such as friends, neighbors and colleagues. "Sometimes older people go to a residence and before leaving home they give me the jugs"
This would be the case of a resident of Pla de Santa Maria, whom she did not know anything about, who gave her a glass pitcher on September 11, the last in her collection.
It has also traveled throughout Catalonia to make acquisitions, such as in Argentona, la Galera, Verdú, la Bisbal del Empordà and Abreda. «I went to Miravet and asked a man if he had jugs. He told me no. As I left I gave him two kisses. So he told me to wait, that maybe he had one. Then he found a second. That was ten years ago."
It also has pieces from Zamora, Toledo, Talavera de la Reina, Seville, Granada, Portugal, Italy, the Czech Republic, Cuba and Argentina.
His obsession with jugs is such that one year – some time ago – he took the bus to go to Tarragona to buy a suit for the main festival. He went down Calle Unió and found a store selling dishes and pots. He bought two precious jugs. «And he went up the Rambla happier than anyone, with a jug in each hand. And I return to Solivella without the suit », he recalls.
On another occasion, two men – over 80 years old – came, Ramonet and Benjamín, because they knew that I had the jug that had been their mother, which had come into the hands of Rosa through a friend. "When they saw him they burst into tears," she recalls, "their mother, in the middle of the movies, would put sugared almonds or aniseed in the jug."
It has a four centimeter botijo, which would be the smallest in the world and comes from Murano
He also commissioned a designer to make Solivella's tadpoles in the form of jugs. «I paid for the moulds, but I asked for help –50 cents– from neighbors, associations and the town hall. Everybody collaborated."
It also has all the jugs that are sold in Tarragona every year when the miraculous water arrives through Sant Magí, «they are given to me by a man who puts up the awnings. I'm about 45."
In August he obtained a botijo from Alicante, which used to be given to the bride as a sign of purity.
This Solivellenca assures that what she has "is a tribute to our mothers and godmothers, because they went to the fountain in search of water." Once a year she does a general cleaning and moves the pieces “because if a person comes a second time they will see it differently”.
There is no shortage of curious pieces, from the smallest jug in the world – it measures about 4 centimeters and comes from the Italian town of Murano – to jugs that are centuries old, “which they wanted to buy from me”. She said she "no".
It is clear to him that none of his pieces are for sale, "I prefer to invite the person to lunch at home than to sell him one of my jugs," he says. He also has several copies of the black jug from Verdú, "which keeps the water fresh so that it sweats".
The corner of the jug of Solivella is surely one of the most important collections in Catalonia of this type of piece together with the Museo del Cántaro de Argentona.
But Rosa Iglesias, surely because of her open and enterprising character, has organized in recent years in Solivella for the festival the most varied and curious exhibitions. This year, for example, for August 15 (the Feast of the Sacred Heart) in the abbey he gathered 2,000 boxes of all kinds and very diverse material. They contained from Juanola pills, aspirin, tobacco, anise, shoes, cookies or wafers.
In 2021 it was time to set up an exhibition of empty bottles. In total 1,500, which could be seen at her mother's house, “most were given. And they were staged according to context." And she already has in mind that she will mount it next year: bags, "I already have 50." One of the pieces will be a sarnacho.