O Ciprianillo: The Book of San Cipriano

From A World of Tricksters with added information.

Written by an anonymous Galician trickster, this book purports to identify 174 sites in Galicia where gold can be found. It contains cryptic clues to the locations and magic spells to break the enchantments that conceal and protect the treasures. The 1974 80-page edition, of which I have a copy, seems to be the one currently in use.

The great-uncle of a friend in the village of A Pobra de Trives, in the middle of gold country near Ourense, told me that a group of men arrived at his farm one day, asking for his permission to search on his land for a hoard they believed might be there. They had a copy of the Ciprianillo with them. He gave them permission but never heard what the results were.

He had been a member of popular local semi-professional band Os Trinta, which is honoured with a bas-relief in a prominent spot on the main street of Trives. A fellow band member was known to be searching for treasure with the aid of the Ciprianillo. One day he abruptly quit his day job and left town, never to be seen again. It was rumoured that he had struck gold.

Os Trinta were a quartet: bagpipe, E-flat clarinet, snare drum and bass drum. The members were Félix Álvarez, Fermín Álvarez, Roxelio Álvarez, and Luís Álvarez. The group was active from 1890 to the 1950s, and they performed at the coronation of King Alfonso XIII in 1902. As a result of the massive publicity following that gig, the band was invited to play at venues around the world, including in Argentina, where Galician emigres are so numerous that even non-Galician Spaniards are called “Gallegos”.

Here are my photo of the bas-relief in Trives and an old newspaper photo. I don’t know which one is my friend’s great-uncle.

“Third Gathering of Bagpipers of the Land: in Memory of Os Trinta”

About Richard Marsh

Bardic storyteller and author
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