Archivo Histórico Provincial de Girona

Plaça Sant Josep 1
Girona 17004
T: +34 972 225 500
@: ahg.cultura@gencat.cat

Abierto los días laborables:
noviembre a mayo: 10h-18h
junio a octubre: de 10h-20h
domingos y festivos: 10h-15h

Cerrado el 25-26 de diciembre, 1-6 de enero

Girona. Plaça Sant Josep 1, cerca del centro histórico de la ciudad. Una impoluta sala blanca. La luz clara de la mañana atraviesa la ventana, se filtra por las finas cortinas y llena la habitación. Dolors Velasco viste bata blanca, guantes de látex y cofia en el pelo. Sobre una cubeta tiene a mano bisturí, pinzas de precisión y escalpelos. Sobre otra, botes de agua oxigenada y jeringas de diferente calibre. Con la precisión propia del cirujano se inclina sobre la mesa de operaciones, descubre la sábana que tapa al sujeto de esa mañana y lo examina. Con la ayuda de unas tijeras especiales, corta los nervios que sujetan la piel y la separa del cuerpo. Humedece la epidermis cubriéndola con varias hojas de papel secante. Con un afilado bisturí separa la primera capa de piel. Contiene la respiración. Es el momento de descubrir qué hay debajo de la membrana.

Dolors Velasco no es cirujana, es restauradora; el paciente no es un ser humano, es un libro notarial que forma parte del Archivo Histórico Provincial de Girona. El cartón con el que están rellenas sus tapas está conformado de decenas de documentos en hebreo, datados entre 1330 y 1492, firmemente unidos entre sí, adheridos con pegamento hecho de huesos animales.

Al separar la primera capa de piel de la portada, Velasco descubre un primer trozo de papel sucio de barro, con restos de pegamento, viejo y desgastado. Se pueden entrever algunos trazos de escritura cursiva en hebreo: piedras (אבנים), pared (לקיר), vigas pequeñas (קטנים קורות). Algunas palabras, aunque escritas en grafía hebrea, están en catalán: guix (גיש), Vidal de Vellcaire (דבילקיירי אנוידאל), Estruc de Petita (דפטיטה שתרוק). Parecen ser las anotaciones que un constructor toma sobre los trabajos que va realizando: la distancia que debe haber entre dos muros, el techo que tiene que construirle a un tal Belxom Benet, las cisternas y el precio de los materiales que necesitaba para construirlas…

Quizás uno se imagina que los escritos judíos catalanes medievales versarían sobre grandes verdades, sobre cábala y estudios talmúdicos, o quizás sobre las gestas de los grandes prohombres de entonces. Sin embargo, resulta que lo que los judíos del siglo XIV pudieron dejar como legado son cuadernos de cuentas, algunos ejercicios de escritura y un par de listas de la compra. La restauradora procede ahora a sumergir, de manera controlada y protegida, el pegote de documentos en una cubeta de agua oxigenada. Con un pincel y el escalpelo separa con un cuidado extremo cada capa de papel. Luego la seca, le aplica un apresto de celulosa para que tome la consistencia necesaria y lo archiva para ser catalogado y estudiado.

Entre los papeles y pergaminos que ha restaurado hoy, encontramos por ejemplo, siete fragmentos alargados de papel que forman parte de un registro de vendas de tejidos. Los productos están indicados bajo el nombre de los compradores con el precio. Colchones (טלאף), frazadas (לסדה) y colchas (נובה) forman parte de la oferta de productos que ofrecía este comerciante. Hay también una lista de objetos que parece ser un inventario o una herencia. Se listan tres libros y algún tipo de especies o perfumes; aparecen también quince sábanas, una colcha gruesa y otra fina, y varias capas: una blava (לבה) y otra groga (רוגה).

El Archivo Histórico Provincial de Girona conserva un gran número de documentos procedentes de la comunidad judía gerundense, que todavía en la actualidad se encuentran escondidos dentro de las cubiertas de algunos libros notariales. A fecha de hoy se han revisado 2.002 libros anteriores al año 1500 y se han encontrado en al menos 180 de ellos, fragmentos de documentos que se usaron en la época medieval para dar consistencia a los libros de las actas de los notarios de Girona. Todos ellos pueden ser consultados, personalmente en el Archivo Histórico Provincial de Girona, o digitalmente, a través de la web oficial. Aunque quizás no sean éstos los manuscritos que nos revelarán las respuestas providenciales, es apasionante la manera en que nos permiten conocer e imaginar de primera mano cómo debían ser y vivir los judíos de Girona hasta antes de su expulsión.

Nota
El Archivo Histórico Provincial de Girona conserva un gran número de documentos hebreos procedentes de la comunidad judía de Girona; fragmentos escritos que se usaron en la época medieval para dar consistencia a la encuadernación de libros que contenían las actas de los notarios de Girona. Las persecuciones y los desplazamientos de los miembros de las comunidades judías hicieron que todo este legado permanezca escondido hasta hace solo pocos años.

Girona, early morning. In Sant Josep Square, near the old town center, stands an immaculate white room. The glimmer of morning light enters through the windows filtered by the curtains and fills the room. Dolors Velasco is dressed in a white robe, latex gloves and a cap on her hair. Next to her, a basin is arrayed with a set of precision scalpels and forceps. On another basin, buckets of oxygen peroxide and syringes of different calibers lay at hand. With a surgeon’s own precision Dolores Velasco leans over the operating table, removes the covers over this morning’s subject and examines it. With the help of a special set of scissors, she cuts through the nerves which hold the skin and separates them from the body. She proceeds with the epidermis, covering it with several sheets of blotting paper, moistening it just enough to loosen its layers. Finally, a sharp, carefully maneuvered scalpel is induced by Velasco’s steady hands to separate the first layer of skin. She holds her breath. This is the moment to discover what lies beneath the membrane.

Dolors Velasco is not a surgeon, she is a professional restorer; the patient is not a human being, but an medieval notarial book which forms part of the Provincial Historic Archive of Girona. Here, age-old notarial book covers secretly hide dozens of documents in Hebrew, dated between 1330 and 1492, firmly bonded with ancient glue made from animal bones.

Separating the first layers of skin from the cover, Velasco reveals a piece of a hidden script smirched with dirt and traces of old, battered glue. Slowly, clear words in cursive Hebrew begin to emerge: stones (אבנים) wall (לקיר), small beams (קורות קטנים). Some words, though written in Hebrew script, are clearly in Catalan: guix (גיש) Vellcaire Vidal (בילקיירי וידאל) Structural Petita (פטיטה שתרוק). Then, words become phrases describing what appears to be a builder’s takes on a work in progress: the distance that must exist between two walls, the roof which is to be built for Mr. Belxom Benet, the number of water tanks to be provided and the prices of the materials needed for this work…

One imagines these hidden Jewish writings from medieval Catalunya would savior great truths about Kabbalah and Talmudic studies, or perhaps tell of prodigious deeds of great men of that time. However, it turns out that the only legacy the Jews of the fourteenth century left behind were accounting books, some writing exercises and a couple of shopping lists.

Among the scripts and scrolls restored today, we find for example, seven elongated fragments of paper which form part of an extensive inventory of textiles: mattresses (טלאף), blankets (לסדה) and bedspreads (נובה) are listed under each buyer’s name with its respective price. There is also a list of objects which appears to be an inheritance: three books are listed, some sort of species or perfumes, fifteen bed sheets and two quilts: one ‘blava’ blue (בלה) and another ‘groga’ yellow (גרוגה).

The Provincial Historic Archive of Girona retains a large number of documents from the Jewish communities of medieval Girona, most of which are still hidden within the covers of notarial books. To date over 2,002 books dating prior to the year 1500 have been reviewed, from which more than 180 books contained hidden writings. Each and every document can be examined in person at the Provincial Historic Archive of Girona, or digitally through the official web.

Although these may not be the manuscripts of propitious arguments, how exciting it is to imagine and to learn first-hand about the lives of the Jews of Girona before their expulsion.Girona, early morning. In Sant Josep Square, near the old town center, stands an immaculate white room. The glimmer of morning light enters through the windows filtered by the curtains and fills the room. Dolors Velasco is dressed in a white robe, latex gloves and a cap on her hair. Next to her, a basin is arrayed with a set of precision scalpels and forceps. On another basin, buckets of oxygen peroxide and syringes of different calibers lay at hand. With a surgeon’s own precision Dolores Velasco leans over the operating table, removes the covers over this morning’s subject and examines it. With the help of a special set of scissors, she cuts through the nerves which hold the skin and separates them from the body. She proceeds with the epidermis, covering it with several sheets of blotting paper, moistening it just enough to loosen its layers. Finally, a sharp, carefully maneuvered scalpel is induced by Velasco’s steady hands to separate the first layer of skin. She holds her breath. This is the moment to discover what lies beneath the membrane.

Dolors Velasco is not a surgeon, she is a professional restorer; the patient is not a human being, but an medieval notarial book which forms part of the Provincial Historic Archive of Girona. Here, age-old notarial book covers secretly hide dozens of documents in Hebrew, dated between 1330 and 1492, firmly bonded with ancient glue made from animal bones.

Separating the first layers of skin from the cover, Velasco reveals a piece of a hidden script smirched with dirt and traces of old, battered glue. Slowly, clear words in cursive Hebrew begin to emerge: stones (אבנים) wall (לקיר), small beams (קורות קטנים). Some words, though written in Hebrew script, are clearly in Catalan: guix (גיש) Vellcaire Vidal (בילקיירי וידאל) Structural Petita (פטיטה שתרוק). Then, words become phrases describing what appears to be a builder’s takes on a work in progress: the distance that must exist between two walls, the roof which is to be built for Mr. Belxom Benet, the number of water tanks to be provided and the prices of the materials needed for this work…

One imagines these hidden Jewish writings from medieval Catalunya would savior great truths about Kabbalah and Talmudic studies, or perhaps tell of prodigious deeds of great men of that time. However, it turns out that the only legacy the Jews of the fourteenth century left behind were accounting books, some writing exercises and a couple of shopping lists.

Among the scripts and scrolls restored today, we find for example, seven elongated fragments of paper which form part of an extensive inventory of textiles: mattresses (טלאף), blankets (לסדה) and bedspreads (נובה) are listed under each buyer’s name with its respective price. There is also a list of objects which appears to be an inheritance: three books are listed, some sort of species or perfumes, fifteen bed sheets and two quilts: one ‘blava’ blue (בלה) and another ‘groga’ yellow (גרוגה).

The Provincial Historic Archive of Girona retains a large number of documents from the Jewish communities of medieval Girona, most of which are still hidden within the covers of notarial books. To date over 2,002 books dating prior to the year 1500 have been reviewed, from which more than 180 books contained hidden writings. Each and every document can be examined in person at the Provincial Historic Archive of Girona, or digitally through the official web.

Although these may not be the manuscripts of propitious arguments, how exciting it is to imagine and to learn first-hand about the lives of the Jews of Girona before their expulsion.