Auca (cartoon)

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The world upside down – a 19th-century Spanish language auca from the print shop of J. M. Marés in Madrid. A poor man gives alms to a rich man, men are grazing supervised by sheep, etc.

An auca (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈawkə], Western Catalan: [ˈawka]) is a genre of a story in pictures developed mainly in Catalonia.


The auca was present in some other parts of Spain, even though it was most popular in Catalonia. It has a structure somewhat similar to comics, but has more rigid. The auca includes a number of images that can be evenly divided by 4 (usually 48), all images are of the same size, all fit on one page, and there's a small piece of text, called rodolí (pronounced: [ruðuˈɫi], plural rodolins) - underneath every image, usually in the Catalan language and since the 19th century also rhymed.


The auca began as a card game played for money. The cards were possibly also used for divination, judging by the images that initially appeared on them - the Moon, the Sun, stars and animals, among them a goose, which gave its name to the game - auca means "goose" in the north-western dialects of Catalan (oca in modern standard Catalan). The earliest preserved auca was created by Pere Abadal in 1670 in Moià. The game was forbidden throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and gradually the auca developed into an art form in which all the images appeared on one page and had a unifying theme, initially - arts, crafts, children's games and animals.

In the 19th century the auca reached its artistic peak and developed into a complete art form and publishing niche. The themes of auca stories became more varied and included history, biography, traditional moral stories and fables. It was then that text underneath the images took the form of two rhymed lines. The most important auca artists of that time were Josep Piferrer and Ignasi Estivill from Barcelona and Agustí Laborda and Ildefons Mompié from Valencia.

The auca structure also inspired Santiago Rusiñol's play L'auca del senyor Esteve (Mr. Esteve's auca), a down-to-earth, often humorous, story about a business-oriented family who suddenly has to deal with the artistic orientation of the young heir.

Towards the end of the 19th century the auca genre began to wane. Many new aucas were simply repeating older themes. At that time, however, aucas were brought to Madrid, where they were positively met. A series of Castilian aucas called Aleluya (Hallelujah) were produced with themes of Catholic holidays.

In the 20th century the auca continued to be a unique Catalan way of expression. Newer aucas are being regularly produced by Catalan artists, incorporating newer artistic styles, but keeping the established form of 48 images with two or four lines of rhymed text.

Auca –"El Triomf I el Rodoli de la Gala I en Dali" by Salvador Dali

In 1961 Salvador Dalí created one of his most interesting works –"El Triomf I el Rodoli de la Gala I en Dali" The work consists of 43 separate items, built on a unique Catalonian-Spanish structure (AUCA ), combined together to form a single work.

The AUCA – entitled "The Triumph and Couplet of Gala and Dali" – was completed in a matter of days. Dali's drawings were done in India ink on a single sheet of paper and, according to the poet Carles Fages de Climent, completed all in one night. The AUCA is composed of 43 pairs of drawings and verses. In the margins of the sheet are three drawings without verse. The AUCA is a summary of the Dali myth, including his special little men and well-known obsessions. The main themes in the work include the flowing clock, swans, ants, the crown and more.

Behind each one of the 43 motifs lays a story and picture from Salvador Dalí's life. The work reflects his dreams, memories, fantasies, people who influenced his life and work (his friend, the artist Pablo Picasso, the Spanish artist Gaudi, his wife and love of his life Gala and more).

Examples of aucas[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "auca". Enciclopèdia Catalana (in Catalan). Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  • - a website about aucas (Catalan)
  • La paret de les auques - auques produced by the students of IES Pius Font i Quer school. (Catalan)