Recua Arriera
 ” Mandamos assi mismo , á fin que la referida nuestra Fabrica ceda toda beneficio a nuestros Vasallos, que aviendo bastante numero de ellos, que quieran comerciar con los generos, que en ella se fabricaren, solo se venda la referida Loza, ó Fayanza por manos de Vasallos nuestros..”
(The Royal Factory’s first Management Regulations. 1727)

In the middle of the roundabout in front of you, a forged iron group of sculptures can be seen made by Forjas Artísticas La Zarza, based in Rubielos de Mora (Teruel). The sculptures represent the string of pack mules (or recua in Spanish) that took the Royal Factory’s wares in the 18th century to sales points in Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza, Barcelona and other cities, and also to the ports of Cadiz and Castellón where they were shipped to America and Europe respectively. The goods were also peddled this way. Delicate chinaware was packed in wooden crates or in sacks filled with straw.

During the Saint Anthony feast day celebrations in Alcora (in mid-January), a re-enactment of the string of pack mules is still made, thanks to the Asociación Tradicional Recua Arriera (Traditional Pack Mule & Drovers Association).

The standard makeup of the string of mules: At least four mules and eight people. The first mule was ridden by a guide with a blunderbuss, the second and third carried the goods, and the last animal wore two big bells to alert possible buyers to the pack’s arrival.
The drovers’ clothes: Black wool trousers, a white shirt, white socks and Valencian espadrilles. This was rounded off by a Spanish cloak, headscarf and wide-brimmed hat.
The mules’ trappings: An ornate headstall with tassels to ward off flies, a breast collar, girth straps and bright-coloured blankets (with a red and maroon fringe, embroidery and tassels). The goods were covered with woollen blankets possibly made in Morella or nearby towns.

El cacharrero
259 x 220 cm
Prado Museum, Madrid.
A canvas painting by Goya depicting a scene from everyday Madrid life. In the foreground, a boy with his back to us in Valencian dress shows his wares to two young ladies and an old one. Thanks to the artist’s skill, the chinaware on sale has been identified as Alcora crockery.
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