people live in corners [ Home / Writing Samples / Academic / ]


The Iberian Pig in Spain and the Americas at the time of Columbus

Contents: Download as PDF (260kb)


Chapter I: Pigs in the Old World


A Pig for all Ages

In Spain there is a popular saying that goes, “El tocino la olla; el hombre la plaza; y la mujer la casa.”[1] The refrain is meant to indicate that everything has its place or mission in life. Though today we might argue if the woman’s place is in the home or if the man should be idling in the plaza, very few would argue that pork belongs anywhere but in the cooking pot. The place of food seems obvious to us. Yet whether or not to eat the pig is a question that people have debated since Egyptian times. If one were to travel to Spain today— one of the top three consumers of pork worldwide— the debate would appear to be long over. The pork eaters are victorious on that peninsula.

The Spanish connection with the pig as a food has its roots far back in Iberian history, and it is not surprising that the conquistadors of the sixteenth century were so predisposed to the animal. Hogs were probably domesticated in multiple places and times, but ancient man in the Iberian peninsula surely feasted on wild boar well before that. More than just sustenance, the pig was, together with the bull and the lamb, an animal of pagan sacrifice. Numerous Celtic-Iberian statues called “verracos” in the shape of swine have been uncovered, including the famous one at San Martín de Valdeiglesias (Madrid). One scholar has called them “el mayor monumento que la humanidad ha hecho nunca al cerdo.[2] Images of pigs have been found on the backs of ancient coins.[3] This continued through the time of the Romans who also practiced the triple sacrifice of the pig, bull, and lamb (suovetaurilia), and even put jamón, Spanish ham, on the backs of some coins during the reign of Augustus.[4]

Hog raising in Iberia flourished under the empire. Pomeipolis (modern day Pamplona) had an economy structured around exporting jamones to Rome. In the city of Conesa in northern Spain a fossilized ham over two thousand years old has been found.[5] The Romans had conquered a land already renowned for its jamón ibérico. Strabo tells us in his Geography that in Roman Hispania, “among these people excellent hams are cured, rivaling those of Cantabria.”[6] In Rome, too, both common people and the aristocrats appreciated the succulent food. Pork was a common feasting food for celebrating the birth of a child.[7] Raving about the pig, Pliny tells us in his Natural History: “they have almost fifty flavors, whereas all other meats have one each.”[8] Another Roman, Lucio Columela, who wrote Doce libros de agricultura around the time of Jesus, describes in depth the occupations of porqueros, the hog raisers of Hispania. “Este porquero ha de ser vigilante, diligente, laborioso y cuidadoso,” he tells us. “Todas las situaciones del campo acomodan seguramente á este ganado: pues pace convenientemente en las montañas y en las llanuras; sin embargo, lo hace mejor en las tierras pantanosas que en las secas.”[9] These qualities, both of the pig and the pig herder, would be vitally important on expeditions in the New World.

The Visigoths, who retained control of Hispania when influence from Rome waned, maintained and then expanded the porcine culture of the peninsula. They embraced the gastronomy of jamón and embutidos, meanwhile enacting laws in their codebook Liber Iudiciorum to protect the raising of pigs and the oak forests upon which they depended. The wild boar, or jabalí, was a favorite in the high court of Visigoth rulers, but domesticated pig was the principal meat for all classes of society in Spain during this period. The Visigoths had particular respect for the swineherd which they called pastors; because they lived apart from the community and in constant contact with nature, they attributed to them magical powers. Pastors were even considered of a social class more noble than those who tilled the land.[10]

The Pig in Christian Spain

In the year 589 C.E. the Visigoth king Recared accepted Catholicism as the land’s official religion. Since then the Spanish clergy has always had a connection with the pig, and some monasteries like the order of San Fructuoso had famously large herds.[11] Unlike the Sephardic Jews, or the Moslems who arrived in 711, raising pigs was something the Christian clergy saw as a clean enterprise, supported by their faith. Even under the influence of the Moors, who dominated Spain for nearly eight centuries, pig raising continued to flourish in the Christian communities of the peninsula.

During the Moslem occupation, the monasteries kept alive the ancient hog culture of Spain. In part the tradition of raising pigs stemmed from the need of such institutions to supply themselves independently with food. Monasteries typically held land, stables, agricultural plots, and a certain number of pigs. This habit would be carried over into the New World, where religious orders set up missions to convert the Indians, and taught them to raise pigs as well. Although monks might endure periods of fasting, in times when meat was allowed it did often come in the form of smoked or cured pork. Many clergymen came from the noble classes and were used to a good meal; they also felt it their duty to provide for passing travelers. They had such an interest in both the culinary and medicinal uses of the pig that throughout the Middle Ages they managed single-handedly to maintain the gastronomy of ancient Spain that might otherwise have been lost under Moslem rule.[12]

Perhaps because of this relationship it is not surprising that a number of Catholic figures have a connection to hogs. In fact, according to Antonio Freijeiro, Christian Europe has no less than sixty-one saints associated in some way with the pig. As Freijeiro reasons, “Es como si Europa quisiese desagraviar a este animal por el desprecio y los malos tratos que recibe en otras partes del mundo.”[13] But there are two notable Christian saints, San Antón and San Martín, with a special relation to the pig in Spain worth exploring here.

San Antonio Abad (Saint Anthony the Abbot)[14] is perhaps most identified with the pig. More popularly known simply as San Antón, he is so associated with swine that we have the following couplet to remember the fact:

Hubo seis cosas en la boda de Antón:
cerdo, cochino, guarro y lechón

As all four animals listed are Castilian synonyms for “pig,” we can deduce from this caricature that San Antón was accompanied only by his bride and faithful hogs. (Incidentally, the saint was never married and is actually most famous as the father of Christian monasticism.) The festival of San Antón varies by time period and location. In Madrid the custom lasted until the eighteenth century, and usually consisted of a ceremonial pig crowned “king” and a young boy chosen at random to play the part of San Antón. As the following description shows, it was a rather boisterous event:

Al llegar a la ermita de San Antón, se subía a un tablado al «cerdo-rey» y al joven porquero, al que se le quitaban los vestidos que le caracterizaban como representación del santo, y vistiéndole con una estera pintarrajeada como manto y coronándole con la corona de ajos y guindillas que hasta entonces había llevado el gorrino, se le montaba sobre éste y era proclamado «rey de los cochinos» en medio de la algazara general...Volvían después todos a las proximidades de la ermita de San Blas, donde celebraban una gran comilona, tras la cual había baile al derredor de enormes hogueras, baile que duraba, a pesar del frío de la estación, hasta entrada la noche.[16]

Apparently the whole affair led to too much lawlessness and abuse of the one unlucky enough to be chosen the “rey de los cochinos”— unhappily, he maintained his title for the entire year. The crowning of the “king” was subsequently banned in Madrid in the year 1697, but the festival persisted in modified forms.

The holiday is still practiced to some extent in small Spanish villages where pigs are prevalent like in Castile and Extremadura, as well as Galicia to the north, and in the sixteenth century was typical of the regions from which the conquistadors came. While fundamental elements of the custom have changed, the principal matter still revolves around the pig: Some devotee of the saint donates a piglet that is allowed to run about the village in search of food. A bell is tied around the pig’s throat to announce his presence, and as he approaches the doorsteps around town, he is sure to be graciously fed. On the day of the fiesta the now fattened porker is sold at auction or given away in a raffle that will pay for the festival’s expenses. Hams and other pig-derived delicacies are the traditional foods on this day.[17]

Another Christian saint, San Martín (Saint Martin of Tours), is perhaps more familiar to modern Spaniards. His saint’s day is the 11th of November, and in Spain the date signals the beginning of the matanza— the ritual slaughter of pigs.[18] From this correlation we can somberly understand the meaning of the popular Spanish saying, A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín. The ceremony of the matanza deserves more elaboration here. By late August or September began the porculatio, the final fattening of the pig before its slaughter; in November, the month of San Martín, the slaughter commenced. Typically this practice involved the local butcher or meat vendor, but on certain occasions a number of campesino families might carry out their own matanza. Afterwards, together they could salt and prepare the meat into salazones, jamones, embutidos, and the like for use during the year. The pig was a food imbued with community and ritual in Spain. Inevitably the best parts of the animal would end up in the stomachs of the nobles, while the peasants would maintain the restos: hogs’ feet, organs, and lesser cuts of meat. It was an animal that fed all classes.[19]

Today, the matanza is considered a rather cruel and archaic custom by many modern Europeans, especially those residing outside of Spain. Ironically, however, it was a Spanish group, La Asociacion Nacional para la Proteccion y Bienestar de los Animales (ANPBA) that denounced the practice to the European Commission in September of 2002, prompting a full investigation.[20] The ritual slaughter of pig was found to conflict with Article 3 of the EU Council directive on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter:

Animals shall be spared any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering during movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning, slaughter or killing.[21]

Since that time, public matanzas have by and large adhered to the Commission’s strict guidelines.[22] However, another provision of the same directive extends these requirements to hogs slaughtered for personal use, as a Spaniard might wish to do on his own property during Christmas or San Martín. Under EU regulations, such a practice is only acceptable “provided that Article 3 is complied with and that pigs, sheep and goats have been stunned in advance.”[23] It is difficult to assess how many people are adhering to the guidelines in the privacy of their own homes.

Traditionally, then, the matanza was most often carried out on religious holidays like Christmas, in anticipation of Lent, and of course on the day of San Martín. It has been part of the dietary customs in the Iberian peninsula since antiquity, and until recently was as much practical and necessary as it was symbolic and ceremonial. Gázquez Ortiz explains:

La matanza, sacrificio ceremonial del cerdo, comenzó como costumbre ligada al ciclo biológico del animal y a las necesidades alimenticias del hombre, pero pronto adquirió connotaciones de ritual cárnico....[24]

At different times the matanza carried different symbolism, but as the fifteenth century drew to a close, more and more its practice took on an ominously Catholic connotation.

Háblame en cristiano: Christians, Jews, Moslems, and pigs

Toward the time of Columbus, the matanza was thoroughly embraced by Christians. In fact it became symbolic of piousness itself, serving to differentiate Old Christian Spaniards who ate pig from Jews and Moslems who did not. As Jaume Fàbrega describes:

En la península Ibérica, Sicilia— y más tarde en el este de Europa—, etc., la confrontación con judíos y musulmanes convierte la fiesta de la matanza en una exhibición de “fe” cristiana. Este hecho a menudo se menciona en los terribles documentos de la Inquisición, y tanto en castellano como en catalán, algunas palabras populares (marranos...xuetes...) son testimonio de este conflicto judeo-islámico-cristiano que simboliza el cerdo. Por otra parte, los cristianos santificaron al cerdo consagrándole un santo, San Antonio, llamado “del cerdito.”[25]

The change was especially noticeable after the forced conversions of these pig-abstaining groups. In communities having had a long and stable Christian presence, the slaughter would ordinarily be committed out of view in the corral or inner courtyard of the house. However, in communities recently conquered from the Moors or with high populations of conversos or moriscos (converted Jews and Moslems, respectively), the killing was done at the front door, in plain view of the street. Such public displays showed at once the pure Christian blood of the citizen, and simultaneously supported the Christian establishment now dominating the politics of Spanish villages.[26]

Although by this time Christians, Jews, and Moslems had cohabited the Iberian peninsula for over eight centuries, their dietary preferences had remained an issue of friction. As Spanish historian Henry Kamen suggests:

[I]n the everyday contact with Old Christians there was periodic irritation and conflict over dress, speech, customs and, above all, food. Moriscos slaughtered their animal meat ritually, did not touch pork (the meat most commonly eaten in Spain) or wine, and cooked only with olive oil whereas Christians cooked with butter or lard.[27]

It could not have been easy for either of these abstemious cultures to quickly take up pork into their food habits. Their religions had considered the animal impure, sinful, and unclean. It forbade them even to touch the pig, so the thought of eating one must have been a humiliating sacrifice.[28]

Not all Jews and Moslems felt the same. Famously Isaac ben Salimán, a Medieval Jewish doctor wrote in his Tratados de Dietética (990 C.E.) that despite whatever was written in Leviticus or Deuteronomy, pork was actually a healthful food. The eleventh-century publication La Higiene de Albucasis, written by a Moslem doctor in Córdoba, gives clear evidence that the pig was sold, eaten, and considered “muy nutritivas” by at least some Moslems.[29] Though they had routinely slaughtered pigs during the Islamic campaigns in the eighth century, once the Moslems had established control they appear to have been more conciliatory. The community of Serranía de Ronda, for instance, had embutidos flavored with aromatic Arab spices like cinnamon.[30]

Despite these exceptions, however, the Jews’ and Moslems’ prevailing opinion about the pig was resoundingly negative, epitomized by the rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135–1204) who emphasized that the pig was an unclean animal both spiritually and hygienically.[31] Born in Spain, and serving as court physician to the Islamic caliphate of Egypt in the twelfth century, Maimonides wrote, “The principal reason why the Law forbids swine’s flesh is to be found in the circumstance that its habits and its food are very dirty and loathsome.”[32] Scholars today, including Marvin Harris, generally dismiss Maimonides’ “scientific” argument because pigs do not carry any more disease than other livestock, and moreover the Bible is not a zoological treatise or medical manual.[33] Gázquez Ortiz argues that the prohibition of pig is and was always preposterous: “Este rechazo a la carne de cerdo por parte de la cultura semita y musulmana se puede catalogar, sin miedo a equivocarnos, de carácter totalmente irracional, y tan sólo debe a dictámenes teológicos.”[34] Whether or not it was true, in his concise statements Maimonides articulated the sensibilities of the majority of Jews and Moslems of his time, and we can infer the attitude held by them towards those who would persist in eating the pig— namely the Christians.

The attitude of Catholic Spaniards was predictably the opposite. Consider the following written by a Christian in 1513, dismissing such piggish slander:

[M]andó Dios que no comiesen los judíos carne de puerco; dándoles á entender que no fuesen en sus obras semejantes á puercos, que son animales sucios. Mas ellos dejaban de comer la carne, que es buena y de mucha provisión, y imitaban sus obras y sus suciedades: su dormir, su nunca mirar al cielo, no reconociendo los beneficios de Dios recibidos; pues debemos dejar de imitar las obras de los puercos, y aprovecharnos de la carne....[35]

This rather glowing description of pork and reproach of the Jews comes from Alonso de Herrera’s famous Agricultura general, the largest reference of its kind at the time. In it he explains the many ways to cut and eat a pig, as well as a thorough list of medicinal uses for which pigs could be used to treat disease. Generally speaking in Spain at this time fresh pork was considered a cure for the injured and sick, and because of this it was always in demand on voyages to the Americas.[36]

The derision by Old Christians in Spain during this time made the eating of pork more than just a food; it became a symbol for adhering to the edicts of the Catholic faith. Giving a gift of olive oil or cherries to the local constable, trustee, or Inquisition official might only get one so far. But just as the public display of the matanza, a gift of succulent ham or pork sausage would lay certain the purity of faith on the part of the giver. For this reason, moriscos would exhibit a ham or slice of salt-pork, which they referred to as “medalla.” The salty medallion was insurance, or so they thought, from the Holy Office of the Inquisition who busily tried to sniff out irreligious converts.[37]

The eating of pig— or not eating of it more precisely— indeed fell under the domain of heretical practice. It also proved to be a marker against Jews, who as a much smaller minority than the Moors tended to live in common with Christians in Spanish villages. Such precarious circumstances are readily evinced by cases like this 1568 trial against a woman accused of abstaining from pork. Under torture she admits her harrowing crime:

She cried “Loosen me, Señores and tell me what I have to say: I do not know what I have done, O Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!” Another turn was given and she said “Loosen me a little that I may remember what I have to tell; I don’t know what I have done; I did not eat pork for it made me sick; I have done everything; loosen me and I will tell the truth.” ... Another turn of the cord was ordered and she said “Señor I did not eat it because I did not wish to—release me and I will tell it.” She was told to tell what she had done contrary to our holy Catholic faith. She said “Take me from here and tell me what I have to say—they hurt me—Oh my arms, my arms!” which she repeated many times...[38]

The abstention from pork was thus able to separate Old Christians from the new conversos and moriscos whose faith always remained in doubt. Such ideas can even be seen in the literature of the time. Take this rhyme about a Jew written by the poet Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645):

Aquí yace Mosén Diego,
A Santo Antón tan vecino
Que huyendo de su cochino
Vino a parar en su fuego

And in his “La vida poltrona” he mocks, “Haga yo mi olla / con sus pies de puerco, / y el llorón judío / haga sus pucheros.”[40] Clearly the idea of cohabitation between the three religions that had existed for hundreds of years in Spain was getting harder to maintain.

By the end of the fifteenth century things had hit a breaking point. Two basic industries in the Spanish economy, especially in Castile and Extremadura, had been incompatible with Islam: viniculture, and hog raising.[41] The Reconquista had made considerable progress, and the border between Moslem-held lands drifted further and further south until they were pushed entirely off the Spanish peninsula. The Holy Office of the Inquisition began in 1480, and the expulsion of the Jews and the final defeat of the Moors occurred in 1492. The national food of the peninsula had been decided, and much to the chagrin of Moslems and Jews, it was the “unclean” and highly symbolic pig.

Toward 1492

The exploitation of swine had actually been on the rise for some time before this period. Geographer James J. Parsons notes that the encomienda system of rewarding soldiers with property and labor benefited Christian pig raisers moving south during the Reconquista. Between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries, the Christian advance resulted in moderate gains in the herding of this livestock, along with an extension of the forests and meadows needed to support them. Swineherding ran into direct conflict with sheep raising, the other traditional livestock of Spain. Proponents of the pig needed natural oak forests while sheepherders wanted open pastures for grazing. Sheepherders were reportedly accused of burning oak trees to create more pastureland. But with the Moslems defeated, the balance of power in Spain tilted toward the swineherds, and this practice seems to have ended. Swine again became dominant in central and southern Spain.[42]

Tributary lists from the fifteenth century show that swine and sheep, known together (along with goats) as ganado menor, predominated in southern Spain. Raising pigs was the single most important economic activity in the Extremaduran city of Trujillo, from where Francisco Pizarro and his brothers hailed. This predilection is even evident in language: a study of the regional Extremaduran dialect contains special sections for pigs and sheep, but none for cattle or other larger livestock, ganado mayor. The region was then and is still today especially proud of its chorizos and jamones. Extremeños remain biased toward pork and mutton, evidence corroborated not only anecdotally, but also by the local menus in districts like Montánchez, which contributed to the American migration.[43]

Pigs were sold in fairs like the famous San Miguel held in Zafra, which dates back to at least the fifteenth century. From mid-October through January, herds of red and black Iberian hogs were traditionally driven through the hilly forests to be fattened on bellotas, or fallen acorns. In 1554 the Extremaduran community of Jerez de los Caballeros alone reported as many as 100,000 pigs being driven through their land for just such a purpose. Today, we often associate pigs with industrialized farms where they are penned up and movement is restricted. Herding, however, was the dominant practice in fifteenth-century Spain, and would prove useful to expeditionary conquistadors who depended on a mobile troop of sustenance to follow them through unexplored reaches of the New World.[44]

The Spanish had formed a connection with the pig over millennia, and it was this culture and diet that they would bring to the Americas. Beginning in the fifteenth century, cookbooks began to appear that distinguished the diets of different social classes in Spain, yet tocino (salt pork) was apparently an indispensable part of everyone’s diet, not only for noblemen but for peasants as well. The famous olla podrida, a dish filled with various things including pig meats, originates from this time, and led to the saying: No hay olla sin tocino ni sermón sin agustino.[45] As one historian has written, “no hay patriotismo más intransigente que el gastronómico, cosa que puede ser cierta porque atañe lo más visceral y rotundo de nuestro ser.[46]

Nothing in the Americas would feel equal to the Old World diet that the Spaniards were accustomed to. Along the path to conquering the Aztec empire, the chronicler Bernal Díaz reported the following:

¡por ventura teníamos por comer, no digo de falta de tortillas de maíz, que hartas teníamos, sino algún refrigerio para los heridos, maldito aquel![47]

Even with an overabundance of corn tortillas, Díaz finds himself with nothing of substance in his stomach. To a Spaniard of his time, nourishing food could mean only one thing: meat and (wheat) bread, the diet that Díaz would have been familiar with from his native land. Such thinking was the prevailing view of the time, as evidenced by a Spanish doctor of the day, Juan de Avinón, who prescribed the following cure-all: “Add a pound of bread and two of meat ... half in the morning and half at night; and with this quantity, more or less, the health of the majority of Sevillian men can be maintained.”[48]

So commonplace and necessary was meat to the Spanish that they had a hard time imagining any other way of life. The cannibalism of the Indians reported by early chroniclers was treated invariably as proof of the natives’ barbarism. But the famous historian and naturalist Bernabé Cobo had another rationalization— the lack of domesticated animals available for slaughter. He further explains:

Lo cual sin duda fué parte para introducirse la bestial costumbre que se halló en la mayor parte deste Nuevo Mundo, de comer carne humana sus naturales; pues vemos que donde más recibida estaba esta fiera costumbre, era donde menos animales se hallaron de cuyas carnes pudiesen los hombres sustentarse....[49]

Livestock was extremely important to the Spaniards and, as we might expect, the animals and customs that emigrated along with the colonizers came from the same regions as their human counterparts.[50]

The result of the cultural and dietary forces discussed thus far at least partially explains the meat-heavy, and especially hog-driven culture of the Extremadurans and Castilians who were setting out for the New World in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It is safe to assume that an elevated percentage of these emigrants had some sort of relationship to the rearing of livestock (especially pigs and sheep), worked in one form or another in the field, or simply hailed from regions of Spain that were traditionally pastoral. They were familiar with pigs and their uses, and brought hog-rearing, along with their morals and traditions, with them to the lands they came to populate in the Americas. As for sheep, the other Spanish mainstay, we shall see that their introduction was, at least initially, stifled by climate and physiology. The Iberian pig, however, readily provided the kind of meal that the Spaniards would bring on their voyages, as well as impose on their newly conquered lands. While traditionally we may think of Spanish colonizers as invariably in search of gold (or God), we should not forget that many were hoping to possess land and livestock, the traditional source of wealth in their homeland.[51]

Continued >> Chapter 2: Pigs in the Indies


[1] Ana Castañer and Teresa Fuertes, El libro del jamón y la matanza (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1988), p. 31.

[2] Antonio Blanco Freijeiro, “Cultura y simbolismo del cerdo,” Historia 16 (Jan 1983): p. 105.

[3] If this seems odd, consider that the wild boar was placed on a coin in Bermuda (then known as the Sommer Islands) in the seventeenth century.

[4] Eduardo Laguna Sanz, El ganado español: un descubrimiento para América (Madrid: Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, 1991), p. 27–9; Antonio Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, Puerco, Cerdo: el cerdo en la gastronomía española (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2000), p. 19-20; Castañer and Fuertes p. 14; Inés Ortega, El libro de las carnes (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1990), p. 101.

[5] Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 24.

[6] Strabo, Geography of Strabo (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), book III:162, p. 101.

[7] Jaume Fàbrega, “La cultura del cerdo en el Mediterráneo, entre el rechazo y la aceptación,” in La alimentación mediterránea, ed. F. Xavier Medina (Barcelona: Icária Antrazyt, 1996), p. 221.

[8] Pliny, Natural History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938), book VIII, chap. LXXVII, p. 147.

[9] Lucio Junio Moderato de Columela, Los doce libros de agricultura (Madrid: Imprenta de Miguel Ginestra, 1879), book VII, chap. IX, vol. 1, p. 28–9.

[10] Manuel Torres and others, España visigoda (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1940), p. 162–5; Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 25–9; Freijeiro, p. 110; Laguna Sanz, p. 15.

[11] Torres, and others, p. 164.

[12] Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 27–8; Antonio Gázquez Ortiz, El jamón en la gastronomía española, 1 Feb 2004 <>.

[13] Freijeiro, p.106–7.

[14] The devout hermit was born in Egypt in 251 C.E. and lived to the saintly age of 105 years. He spent his early adulthood successfully resisting the temptations of Satan, and it is this period of his life that is most abundantly illustrated in the drawings and sculptures of Christian Europe. More often than not San Antón appears with a faithful pig at his side. The reason for this connection is unclear. Some believe that Satan appeared to him as a pig, but this association does not explain the positive connotation that can be derived from the depictions. The following explanation is perhaps more reasonable:

“Skin diseases were sometimes treated with applications of pork fat, which reduced inflammation and itching. As Anthony’s intervention aided in the same conditions, he was shown in art accompanied by a pig. People who saw the art work, but did not have it explained, thought there was a direct connection between Anthony and pigs — and people who worked with swine took him as their patron.”

From Catholic Community Forum, “Anthony the Abbot,” 28 April 2004 <>.

[15] Castañer and Fuertes, p. 33.

[16] Julio Caro Baroja, Los Pueblos de España (Madrid: Ediciones ISTMO, 1976), vol. 2, p. 125.

[17] Eladio Rodríguez González, Diccionario Enciclopédico Gallego-Castellano (Vigo: Editorial Galaxia, 1961), vol. 3, p. 170; George M. Foster, Culture and Conquest (New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation, 1960), p. 75; Freijeiro, p. 115.

[18] As far as any direct connection between San Martín and the pig, during the saint’s lifetime there do not appear to have been any outstanding incidents. Perhaps simply his saint’s day corresponded coincidentally with the proper time of year for the slaughter of pigs. Traditionally this needs to be done in the winter months to aid in the preservation of the meat as jamón and chorizos.

[19] Freijeiro, p. 112; Rodríguez González, p. 170; Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 26–7.

[20] “UE-Ganadería ANPBA denuncia ley extremeña ‘vulnera’ normas para matanza cerdos,” Efe News Services (Sept. 4, 2002): 23.

[21] European Union, Council Directive 93/119/EC of 22 December 1993 on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing [OJ L 340, 31.12.1993, p. 21], (Brussels: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1993): p. 3.

[22] “Progress on ‘Matanza’ in Spain?” EuroVoice for Animals (Oct–Dec. 2003): p. 6.

[23] European Union, p. 5.

[24] Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 177.

[25] Fàbrega, p. 228–9.

[26] Darío Vidal, Siete ensayos aragoneses y un apócrifo (Alcañiz, Teruel: Ayuntamiento, 1986), p. 61–62.

[27] Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition (New Haven: Yale University, 1997), p. 221.

[28] Castañer and Fuertes, p. 37.

[29] Eugenio M. O. Dognée, La higiene de Albucasis (Córdoba: Imprenta y Papelería Moderna, 1925), p. 48 & lámina 87.

[30] Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 31; Paul Diener and Eugene E. Robkin, “Ecology, Evolution, and the Search for Cultural Origins: The Question of Islamic Pig Prohibition,” Current Anthropology 19:3 (Sep 1978): p. 502.

[31] Diener and Robkin, p. 495; Richard A. Lobban, Jr., “Pigs and Their Prohibition,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 26:1(Feb 1994): p. 68.

[32] Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed (Dover: Dover Publications, 1956), Chapter XLVIII, p. 370.

[33] Marvin Harris, Good to Eat (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1985), p. 68.

[34] Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 15.

[35] Gabriel Alonso de Herrera, Agricultura general (Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1818–1819), vol. 3, p. 525.

[36] Tejera Gaspar, p. 65.

[37] Vidal, 61; Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 44.

[38] Quoted in Henry C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain (London: Macmillan Company, 1907), vol. 3, p. 24–5.

[39] Don Francisco de Quevado y Villegas, Obras completas (Madrid: Aguilar, 1960), vol. 2, p. 489.

[40] Quevado y Villegas, vol. 2, p. 341.

[41] Caro Baroja, p. 118.

[42] James J. Parsons, “The Acorn-Hog Economy of the Oak Woodlands of Southwestern Spain,” Geographical Review 52:2 (Apr 1962): p. 215; Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p.43; David E. Vassberg, “La coyuntura socioeconómica de la ciudad de Trujillo durante la época de la conquista de América,” Revista de Estudios Extremeños 35:1 (1979): p. 165.

[43] Terry G. Jordan, North American Cattle-Ranching Frontiers (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993), p. 36–41; Francisco Santos Coco, “Vocabulario extremeño,” Revista del Centro de Estudios Extremeños 14 (1940): p. 150–162; Vassberg, “Coyuntura,” p. 170.

[44] Parsons, p. 215–7.

[45] Gázquez Ortiz, “Jamón,” internet; Gázquez Ortiz, Porcus, p. 38–41.

[46] Vidal, p. 66.

[47] Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España (Madrid: Dastin, S. L., 2000), chap. CLI, vol. 2, p. 60

[48] Quoted in Abel A. Alves, Brutality and Benevolence: Human Ethology, culture, and the birth of Mexico (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996), p. 144.

[49] Bernabé Cobo, Historia del nuevo mundo (Sevilla: Imprenta de E. Rasco, 1890–3), book X, chap. I, vol. 2, p. 343.

[50] A. Rodero, E. Rodero, and J. V. Delgado, “El ganado andaluz primitivo y sus implicaciones en el descubrimiento de América,” Archivos de Zootecnia 41:154 extra (1992): p. 388.

[51] Laguna Sanz, p. 3.

© 2005 by b.z.