Castells and castellers
Castellers originated at the end of the 18th century in Valls, Tarragona, when rival groups of people called “colles”, began to compete in constructing human towers. Those who take part in these tours are called castellers (castle-makers) , fearless men and women who wear traditional Catalan costume and climb on to each others shoulders to create a human pyramid, sometimes up to eight or nine storeys high and often topped off with a brave child, a bit like a cherry on a cake!
Coming from the word castell, meaning castle in Catatan, castellers belong to a colla castellera (team) whose aim is to make the most impressive castell (human tour) at festivals in Catalonia
Dressed in traditional costume (usually white trousers, black sash, shawl and colored shirt with the team’s emblem) they are usually barefoot.
The sash is the most important part of their clothing as it protects the lower part of the back and can give an extra foothold when climbing. The length and width of the sash depends on the casteller’s position inside the tower and can range from 1,5 to 8 meters. It is usually shorter for higher positions.
The castellers climb into tiers of up to seven levels. The one who climbs to the top of the tower is known as the enxaneta.
The casteller motto is, understandably: ‘Strength, balance, courage and reason’.
Besides the climbers, a large group of people are needed in the pinya (the base of the castell), to help to support the weight and soften the impact if anyone falls. acting as a sort of safety net.
enxaneta (rider) : The topmost child.
aixecador (riser): The person sustaining the enxaneta.
dosos (seconds): The level sustaining the aixecador.
pom de dalt (bunch from the top): The top three levels of the castell: dosos, aixecador, and enxaneta.
folre (cover): A crowd standing on the pinya and sustaining the third level.
manilles (cover): A crowd standing on the folre and sustaining the fourth level.
agulla (needle) : A single-person-per-floor tower (pilar) inside the castell, which when the castell is being undone has to remain standing until the outside part of the castell is already down.
Castells up to 10 levels have been built.