Joan Amades, a life devoted to Catalan folklore

It’s 125 years since the birth of the author of the publication Costumari català in Barcelona, a referential publication for the study of popular culture.  Joan Amades spent his life compiling samples of folklore from Catalan territory.

Video ‘125th anniversary of the birth of Joan Amades’

Some 125 years ago Joan Amades was born, the man who came to be the most important figure in Catalan folklore. Specifically on 23 July 1890 in the Raval neighbourhood. Curious and self-taught, Amades devoted his life to the collection, classification and archiving of samples of folklore. In other words, the set of traditions, customs, legends and popular sayings in Catalan territories. “Amades had a talent for addressing topics nobody paid attention to, such as a doll or a drinking jug. He was ahead of his time” explains Jan Grau, a technician at the Direcció General de Cultura Popular, Associacionisme i Acció Culturals.

The leading work on Catalan folklore is the Costumari català (1950-1956), a compilation of the traditions and customs of Catalan speaking territories which he published after 35 years of study. It consists of 5 illustrated volumes in which content is arranged according to the calendar year.

Another notable work is the Biblioteca de Tradicions Populars, a total of 42 small volumes published between 1933 and 1939 which made up a subscription series for those interested in culture. Another important work by Amades is Folklore de Catalunya (1950-1969), which consists of 3 volumes of tales, songs and customs. Finally, another work worth noting is the posthumous Històries i llegendes de Barcelona (1984).

The works of Joan Amades are currently kept at the Filmoteca de Catalunya, specifically at the Centre de Documentació de la Direcció General de Cultura Popular, Associacionisme i Acció Culturals. Apart from his work, made up of 208 books and articles, his own personal library can be consulted, with 904 books and 13,000 documents including stories, fans, stickers and cut-outs.