The Trementinaires were born in the Vall de La Vansa i Tuixent, the place where they appeared and which has now become a point of tourist interest for its fascinating history and as a tribute to its legacy.
The profession of “trementinaire” dates back to the 19th century when, in order to get cash, women had to travel around Catalonia selling the products of the Valley and offering the healing knowledge they had accumulated over time.
Brief history of the trementinaires
At the end of the 19th century, coinciding with the explosion of industrialization and migration to the big cities, the need for cash was increasingly important. The valleys furthest from productive centers had difficulty obtaining cash in their area, which is why they had to migrate, especially the houses with less resources, to work outside their family unit. Both men and women looked for seasonal jobs to cover the needs that their land could not provide.
The men usually dedicated themselves to the countryside, both agriculture and livestock, their own and others’, but at the end of the season, they migrated to other towns to do other jobs: lumberjacks, construction, industry, etc.
Women, in addition to the domestic work of their family unit, also had jobs outside the home, both domestic and dided jobs, in the field, as merchants, reapers of cereals and, a part of the women of these valleys , to act as trementinaires.
Faced with the need to get cash for the family, these women exploited their knowledge of the land to do business outside the valleys. Its name comes from its most characteristic product, turpentine (trementina in catalan), obtained from the resin of red pine, abundant in these regions. Each trementinaire had its formula that they used as a base for patches, ointments and ointments with healing properties for blows, wounds, bites, rashes, and a long et cetera.
The life of a trementinaire
The trips took place twice a year, coinciding with periods of little domestic work: from All Saints to Christmas; and from Kings to Easter. During these kilometre-long routes they traveled through Catalonia, on foot, with shoes and clothes not suitable for the low temperatures and condition of the tracks. Always in pairs, usually two women, one who provides the knowledge and an apprentice, who could be from the same house or, if that was not possible, a young woman they hired for the trip. Going in pairs helped to transport the large load of material necessary for the trip, and they served as help for the harsh conditions of the trip, as atmospheric as assaults and robberies. In some cases the companion was a man, as was the case of Sofia, the last trementinaire.
During the journey, they used to sleep on the ground, or in some hay that was left for them in the houses they used to pass. They were generally loved people and who, year after year, waited for their arrival to obtain their products and services (they also helped with domestic work in exchange for shelter).
Women’s revolution in the valley
The figure of Trementinaire, in the 19th century, was a complete social revolution for the time: they were women who, in addition to domestic work, left the valley to get money, in many cases being the main source of income in cash, and they went around Catalonia alone, without the accompaniment of a man.
But this fact in the Valley was not frowned upon, in general terms. Even the men, during the women’s travels, took care of the domestic tasks and the care of the children, when there was no other female figure in the family nucleus.
Courageous women who dared to break with the established moral order, being able to bring money to the family, leave the family home to travel around Catalonia alone, and delegate domestic tasks to the man of the house. A revolution that in the valley meant an important economic activity for the survival of the most needy families.
Tourist resources of the Trementinaires
As a tribute to the figure of the trementinaires, in Tuixent and the valleys you will find a series of tourist resources to learn more about the work of these revolutionary women:
- Museum of the Trementinaires : In the village of Tuixent. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm, and Saturdays from 5pm to 8pm. Christmas, Easter, bridges and from July 15 to September 15: open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm and from Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm to 8pm.
- Fira de les Trementinaires: on the last weekend of May the festival and fair of the Trementinaires is celebrated, a tribute in the form of a celebration: courses, guided tours, activities, conferences, honorary turpentine, bonfire, dance and traditional songs , fair and very good atmosphere. You can not miss it!
- Botanical garden: with a collection of the main plants found in the valley. Open access all year.
- Route of the medicinal plants of Tuixent : 4 kilometer route along one of the routes used by the turpentine workers to stock up on the necessary plants. This route is signposted with the most characteristic plants, in their natural environment, and with informative panels about their main properties. It can be done throughout the year.
- Arboretum de Tuixent: At the end of the medicinal plants route, the arboretum begins, a tour through the forest to learn about the most characteristic trees of our flora, and you will find the Scots pine and the method of extracting the resin for get the turpentine base.
- Route of medicinal plants in Ossera: circular loop where the characteristic medicinal plants of the area are found.
- Herboristeria Nogué d’Ossera : La Suzette will show you her medicinal plant plantation and offer you her natural products. Our current turpentine from the Pyrenees.
We are waiting for you in Tuixent, and Cal Gabriel, to enjoy the Trementinaires valley. Reserve your room: