Pi de les Tres Branques

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Coordinates: 42°06′38″N 1°46′55″E / 42.110531°N 1.781891°E / 42.110531; 1.781891 (Pi de les Tres Branques I)

Pi de les Tres Branques in 2005

El Pi de les Tres Branques (Catalan for "the three-branched pine") is a 25-metre-tall Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) located close to the road at Pla de Campllong near the town of Berga in north-central Catalonia, Spain.[1] It has long been regarded by Catalan nationalists as representing the unity of the three "Catalan Countries"[2] and is the site of a large political-cultural gathering on the third Sunday of July each year and at other times.[3]

The tree has been dead since about 1913, and is in poor structural condition with only one and a bit of its three trunks remaining, but there is a very similar living tree nearby known as Pi Jove de les Tres Branques ("the young three-branched pine"), which is regarded as its successor. Both trees are registered as natural monuments by the Catalan government, since 1987.[4][5]

History[edit]

Pi de les Tres Branques in about 1905

The tree's cultural significance goes back to the time of the 13th-century King James I of Aragon (which included Catalonia). According to legend, while travelling through Catalonia, he spent a night sleeping under Pi de les Tres Branques, and it was there that he had an inspirational dream that he was destined to rule three kingdoms, conquering the Balearic Islands and Valencia (now the other two "Catalan countries") from the Moors,[6][7] which he later achieved. In later times (apparently since before 1750), the tree was celebrated as a symbol of the Holy Trinity,[4] and it is still a venue for religious ceremonies. Its political symbolism was revived during the Catalan Renaissance of the late 19th century, specifically in an 1888 poem, Lo Pi de les Tres Branques[8] by the poet Jacint Verdaguer, which drew on the story of James and expressed the wish that the tree be an inspiration to the Catalan people.[2] This was followed in 1898 by a theatrical play of the same name by Francesc Pelagi Briz.[9] Verdaguer also coined the name "Guernica of Catalonia" for the tree, referring to the Tree of Guernica, an oak tree which symbolises Basque freedom.[10]

In 1901 the landowner granted the tree and surrounding land to the Catalanist Union (Unió Catalanista), a grouping of various nationalist organisations.[11] In 1904, the first nationalist rally was held at the tree.[12]

The tree died before 1915; the year most often given is 1913. The cause is uncertain, but theories include lightning, damage by vandals, and a misguided effort in 1904 by its new owners to protect the tree by building a wall around it.[4][13][14][15] Scots pines have a natural lifespan of up to over 700 years, depending on the region.[16]

The tree has been attacked several times by elements opposed to its symbolism. In 1939, after the end of the Civil War, supporters of the victorious Franco side started an attempt to topple the tree, but were repelled by local people.[4] It has also been subject to regular minor damage such as anti-Catalan graffiti, as well as small pieces broken off by souvenir-hunters. However, the most serious deliberate damage happened during the night of 12/13 May 2014, when the taller of the two remaining branches was sawn off at its base with a chainsaw, by unknown perpetrators.[17][18]

In 2012, the local municipality of Castellar del Riu announced plans to take over the maintenance of the land around the two trees and develop facilities for visitors, including a car park and information panels.[19] Following the serious damage of May 2014, the mayor announced that ways to preserve and possibly re-attach the severed branch were being investigated,[20] as well as increasing security at the site with video cameras.[21]

El Pi Jove[edit]

El Pi Jove

Following the death of the main tree, another three-branched pine 200m away [22] has been adopted as its successor. Pi Jove de les Tres Branques, or Pi de les Tres Branques II, is at least 200 years old,[13] and 19m tall.[5] It has now become the main attraction for younger elements of the nationalist movement.[13] The older and younger trees are often simply called "el Pi Vell" (the old pine) and "el Pi Jove" (the young pine) respectively, to distinguish the two.

The annual gathering[edit]

1904 promotional stamp issued by the Catalanist Union featuring Pi de les Tres Branques and the date 25 September

The tradition of nationalist gatherings at the tree, called Aplec, or Diada, del Pi de les Tres Branques, started in 1904 when the Catalanist Union organised an assembly there to celebrate its acquisition of the site, on the weekend of 24/25 September, at a time when there were already many leading nationalist figures attending an event in Berga, 7 km away.[12]

The first annual July gathering was in 1921, originally on 25 July, the St. James holiday. That year, following a campaign by poet-politician Ventura Gassol, El Pi Jove was inaugurated as the successor to the then-dead main tree, and from then on became the focus for younger elements attending the gatherings.[13]

In later years, the date of the gathering was changed to the third Sunday in July.

The gathering was banned in 1924 by the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera, but resumed again following the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931. Following the victory of Francisco Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War, the gathering was again banned in 1939, and it was not until 1980, five years after Franco's death, that it was revived.

Attendance at the gathering has varied; the 1980 inaugural gathering attracted 3000 visitors,[13] reached a peak of 14000 in 1986,[23] but has since declined, with attendances of 1000 in 2012[24] and 1500 in 2014.[25] It attracts Catalan nationalists of many different viewpoints, including those holding religious ceremonies, visitors who come to enjoy Catalan cultural activities such as music and castells, dignitaries from all over Catalonia, and activists from the entire nationalist spectrum from left to right.

The mix of different ideological groups at the one assembly has sometimes resulted in friction, even violence.[13][23] The 1986 gathering was marred by the burning of Spanish flags and harassment of moderate groups. As a result, the mainstream political parties Democratic Convergence and Republican Left stayed away from the 1987 event. In 1988, different factions of the marxist Movement for Defence of the Land (MDT) fought each other, and in 1991, MDT militants attacked youth members of Democratic Convergence and Republican Left. In 1996, hooded left-wing militants attacked rightists at the event.[13][26]

Since the events of 1996, local and national authorities have increased security at the gathering, and the extremists have generally disappeared, resulting in the restoration of a peaceful cultural atmosphere.[13]

Other associated three-branched pines[edit]

Another similarly-named tree is Pi de les Tres Branques de Freixinet, located near the village of Freixinet in the municipality of Riner in central Catalonia.[27] This tree is also protected by the Catalan government, since 1988, but was killed in a forest fire in 1998.[28] It is sometimes mistaken for the famous Pi de les Tres Branques.[29]

In February 2014, Castellar del Riu municipality donated a three-branched pine sapling from the Campllong forest to the town of Folgueroles, about 50 km away, to commemorate Jacint Verdaguer who was born there.[30]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ ca:Ramon Felipó i Oriol (2012-07-28). "El Pi de les Tres Branques". tasta.cat. Archived from the original on 2013-11-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Vora un símbol d'unitat dels Països Catalans" (in Catalan). El Punt. 2012-07-15. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  3. ^ "el Pi de les Tres Branques" (in Catalan). Enciclopèdia Catalana. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Pi de les Tres Branques I" (in Catalan). Generalitat of Catalonia. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  5. ^ a b "Pi de les Tres Branques II (Pi Jove)" (in Catalan). Generalitat of Catalonia. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  6. ^ Jordi Querol. "Jaume I" (in Catalan). mitcat.net. Archived from the original on 2013-05-12. 
  7. ^ Joan Amades (2009-11-05). Les Millors Llegendes Populars (in Catalan). La Butxaca. p. 118. ISBN 9788499300252. 
  8. ^ lo is a dialectical/archaic variant of el
  9. ^ "Lo Pi de les Tres Branques" (in Catalan). Endrets: Geografia Literària dels Països Catalans. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  10. ^ "Berga recorda Verdaguer i el Pi de les Tres Branques amb una exposició a l'Oficina de Turisme" (in Catalan). TV3 (Catalonia). 2006-11-09. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  11. ^ "El Pi de les Tres Branques" (in Catalan). Municipality of Castellar del Riu. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  12. ^ a b Fèlix Rabassa i Martí (2008-10-03). "La Festa del Pi de les Tres Branques (1904)" (in Catalan). Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Bernat Ferrer i Frigola (2007-05-22). "Aplec del Pi de les Tres Branques" (in Catalan). Rebombori Digital. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  14. ^ "Tree festivals". Generalitat of Catalonia. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  15. ^ ca:Ramon Felipó i Oriol (June 2008). "Quan va morir El Pi de les Tres Branques?" (in Catalan). Rebombori Digital. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  16. ^ Christopher J. Earle (2011-05-27). "Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) description". The Gymnosperm Database. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  17. ^ "Symbolic tree, representing Catalan Countries, vandalized". VilaWeb. 2014-05-13. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. 
  18. ^ Maiol Roger (2014-05-13). "Los Mossos buscan a los autores del ataque contra el Pi de les Tres Branques" (in Spanish). El País. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. 
  19. ^ "I ara... el parc temàtic del Pi de les Tres Branques!" (in Catalan). ca:Nació Digital. 2012-07-13. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  20. ^ Dolors Clotet (2014-05-13). "Serren una de les branques de l'emblemàtic Pi de les Tres Branques" (in catalan). ca:Regió7. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. 
  21. ^ "El Pi de les Tres Branques té cinc néts en perfecte estat" (in Catalan). El Periódico de Catalunya. 2014-05-14. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. 
  22. ^ Coordinates: 42°06′33″N 1°46′45″E / 42.109286°N 1.779139°E / 42.109286; 1.779139 (Pi de les Tres Branques II)
  23. ^ a b Agustí Soler i Regàs (2011-07-31). "El Pi de les Tres Branques. Cal recuperar la Diada" (in Catalan). Catalan Republican Party (Catalan Solidarity for Independence). Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  24. ^ "Aplec del Pi de les Tres Branques 2012" (in Catalan). Municipality of Castellar del Riu. 2012-07-15. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  25. ^ "Aplec simbòlic sota el Pi de les Tres Branques mutilat el passat mes de maig". TV3 (Catalonia). 2014-07-20. Archived from the original on 2014-07-23. 
  26. ^ Felip González (1996-07-22). "Un grupo de encapuchados provoca una batalla campal en la Diada del Pi de les Tres Branques" (PDF) (in Spanish). La Vanguardia. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  27. ^ Coordinates: 41°55′54″N 1°34′25″E / 41.931758°N 1.573682°E / 41.931758; 1.573682 (Pi de les Tres Branques de Freixinet)
  28. ^ "Pi de les Tres Branques de Freixinet" (in Catalan). Generalitat of Catalonia. 2011-09-22. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. 
  29. ^ Example: "Riner" (in Catalan). Catalan Tourism Agency (Generalitat of Catalonia). Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. 
  30. ^ "Folgueroles i Castellar del Riu s'agermanen per plantar un plançó del Pi de les Tres Branques" (in Catalan). La Vanguardia. 2014-02-20. Archived from the original on 2014-07-21. 

Further reading[edit]