This Thursday, Juan de la Cruz Rodríguez received the Island’s Gold Medal in recognition of his tireless work and defense of craftsmanship and, especially, traditional Canarian clothing.. «What I have done is work on what I like and that does not have much merit. I was lucky to work on my hobby and, although in these years I had some disagreements, I have been fortunate to have numerous satisfactions throughout my career,” said the honoree.
Visibly moved, Cruz thanked the recognition and remembered his grandmother, who showed him the art of knitting for the first time. He assured that he does not believe he deserves this distinction and was satisfied with the fact that “I am still linked to my work and I am part of the Traditional Clothing Sector Council of Tenerife. “I am very grateful for this recognition to all the people who have made it possible.”
The event was attended by the president of the Cabildo, Rosa Davila; the vice president, Lope Afonso; the Minister of Culture and Museums, José Carlos Acha; and the counselor Employment and Education, Efraín Medina.
In her speech, Rosa Dávila indicated that the Gold Medal recognizes “the professional and personal career of Juan de la Cruz in Tenerife and in Canary Islands in maintaining our identity. Their work and their research and dissemination work have allowed us to preserve our traditional clothing and promote respect for who we are and the legacy we receive, in this as in other areas, from our elders.
Along these lines, the island president vindicated the figure of the honoree: «The island of Tenerife, with its Cabildo at the helm, shows its deep gratitude to the task that Juan de la Cruz has carried out in the last 40 years. Recovering tradition in fabrics has also meant the recovery of other artisan trades that allow the production of costumes. De la Cruz Rodríguez is a reference beyond our borders, for his committed and hard work in Tenerife and other islands to recover from the artisan weavers all their knowledge and wisdom and to return the essence to one of the most important manifestations of our identity such as clothing.
Biography and fight
Natural of Santa Cruz of Tenerife (1949), he was a textile and clothing technician at the Museum of History and Anthropology of Tenerife from 1986 until his retirement in 2014, as well as a handloom weaving craftsman. His field work, ethnographic research and dissemination of traditional clothing of the Islands For four decades he has been endorsed as the greatest expert on the subject in the Canary Islands and one of the voices with the greatest judgment at the national level. Member of the Sectoral Council of Traditional Clothing of Tenerife, he advised on the creation of museums, exhibitions, film and theater projects, advertising, awareness and any activity transmitting the way of dressing of the Canary Islands for centuries.
Juan de la Cruz rebelled at the end of the 70s against the falsification and distortion of popular costume, facing, almost alone, the social and institutional effort to make old and traditional what never was. The recreation at that time, initially by the Los Majuelos group, of the patterns found in documentation from the 18th century onwards, meant a radical conceptual and aesthetic change in the groups, pilgrimages, magicians’ dances and other manifestations, recovering the true identity of historical attire, which had been disfigured during the 20th century by political, social and tourist phenomena.