The Cathedral, the lemon, the Segura river, the paparajote, the Teatro Romea or the Christ of Monteagudo are symbols that define the identity of the capital of the Region of Murcia. They are always present among the Murcians. There is another that, on the other hand, reappears a few times a year, as in the Bando de la Huerta, when the people of Murcia rescue them to honor and remember their roots. It is the traditional costume, which has the zaraguel and the refajo as the most characteristic pieces, but also offers the people of Huerta innumerable variants, according to the socioeconomic level or the historical period in which it became popular: chambras, tips, capes, vests, hats, girdles, stockings and a wide variety of accessories.
The clothing that takes over the streets of Murcia in Bando de la Huerta is contemporary for men, an option that has spread, to the chagrin of purists, to the female group, especially the younger ones. It is the clothing most sought after by Murcians, who now line up in long queues at Trajes Regionales Beatriz, a flagship store located in the Carmen neighborhood. Mercedes Herrera, who in the weeks leading up to the Spring Festival has to work extra hours to serve customers, explains that the most popular suit today is from the 20th century.
The pieces that define him are the zaraguel, the shirt (both white), the vest and the sash, which must be of the same color. On the legs, the huertan always wears white socks. Complete outfits made with quality fabrics cost around 100 euros for adults and 70 for children, plus espadrilles. Trajes Regionales Beatriz are fabric manufacturers and do not sell shoes, but in other stores they cost around 15 euros, depending on the size. The ‘ticket’ may increase in price if embellishments such as “watches, earrings, scapulars and rosaries” are added, says Mercedes Herrera. And for the head, a montera, since “the gardener only uncovered himself to enter the church”.
This was the most common traditional garment among Huertanos, although it was not the only one they kept in their closet. «That suit was used by everyone and what made the difference were the fabrics. The upper social class used silks and brocades, and the common people, cottons or other cheaper ones”, says Mercedes Herrera. Of course, “even if he were humble”, the huertan would wear his best clothes to a party, to mass, to a funeral or, in general, for Sunday.
Another more alternative option for the Bando de la Huerta is the Goya style, from the 18th century, when the use of traditional costumes became widespread. The fabrics in this outfit are richer, and the socks are striped or colored. Another important change is that the zaraguel is replaced by bold beige canvas shorts. The sash and the shirt, in turn, are made of thread, as well as the vest.
The streets of Murcia will also be flooded this Tuesday with different versions of the Huertana costume. Contemporaneity is characterized by the embroidered combination, a discipline in which Beatriz Regional Costumes is a specialist. Incidentally, they also handcraft costumes for regional festivals in other provinces or celebrations such as weddings and communions. Embroidery is contemporary for women, as it also became popular in the 20th century, “when women rescued traditional clothing for the whole country”, explains Mercedes Herrera. To this day, a complete suit of this type costs around 1,200 euros.
Another more economical option is the striped skirt, which costs 72.50 euros. Over this garment is placed an apron of lorzas and below, the petticoat and the cuckoo. The orchard woman also wears a white or beige chambra, as the shirt is called, and a top over her shoulders. In total, around 270 euros for women and around 235 euros for girls.
As for accessories, flowers are essential. «This is the perfume of the woman in the orchard: pitimini roses, carnations, orange blossom, daisies, everything small. Not the big studs, although that’s what everyone uses now. It’s like carrying a geranium, if you use two it looks like a vase ». It was also traditional “to hang a cross, although nowadays a pendant of the Virgen de la Fuensanta, a cameo or a cross of Caravaca is also used”, says Mercedes Herrera. Other possible decorations are brooches, earrings, fans, pearl necklaces or orchard button rings.
Eighteenth-century women’s costumes have also survived the passage of time. One of them is precisely the ring, that is, with horizontal stripes, “although in Murcia we are used to vertical ones”, qualifies Herrero. The zagalejo is also paradigmatic of this period: a woven skirt decorated with lace, interdoses, biases or piculinas. “It would be like a more arranged petticoat, but it is an outdoor piece”, specifies Mercedes Herrera. Instead of the silk headdress, the orchard woman can also wear an embroidered shawl and the outfit is completed with a doublet, with castles, crenellated and coloured. In any case, whether zaraguel, bold or combination, this day is an occasion for Murcians to remember their ancestors and what life was like in the orchard. As Paco ‘el de las Borregas’ said in an interview with LA VERDAD almost 30 years ago: “El Bando is a living document”.