The Parchment

La Voz de Galicia – October 20, 2017 →

Cristina PatoThe phone conversation lasted 37 minutes. I must have spoken for about 10 minutes straight, and once she had patiently listened to the reason for my call, her voice—full of contagious enthusiasm—began to tell me about the public and private comings and the goings of the Vindel Parchment. I was hooked. I was hooked by her way of narrating something so complex in such simple terms. Somehow, I almost forgot about the reason for my call. That conversation with the academic, professor and pioneer Camiño Noia inspired me to the extent that what was going to be a newspaper column about how the text “Ondas do mar de Vigo” (The Waves of Vigo’s Sea) would finally be in the northwestern city by the same name after 700 years, ended up being a small commendation about the power of communication at the hands of one of the great women in Galician academia and in the Galician language.

As a small sample, I cite directly from her article published in El Faro de Vigo in September 2017. Noia offers the best description for all kinds of readers about the Vindel Parchment: “a piece of sheep’s skin in which a jongleur—male or female—hiding within the Martín Códax rubric, wrote seven ‘songs of a friend’ with a musical pattern present in six of them around the end of the thirteenth century.”

In any case, the parchment has a peculiar and mysterious existence. Discovered by the bookseller Pedro Vindel within the lining of one of Cicero’s De Officiis, the piece of skin carrying the Galician treasure, the most precious secular Galician lyric, migrated from Madrid in 1914 and turned up in Upsala in 1918. Mysteriously, it ended up at the Morgan Library in New York in the Seventies.

Today, thanks to the University of Vigo, we Galicians have our songs back in their native Vigo and with a series of conferences planned around it: without a doubt, this is a compelling date with our past, with our cultural patrimony.

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