Why the history of sand art La Orotava takes the ancient crafts quantum leaps further

The oldest form of sand art is not the one of La Orotava which takes your breath away.

More about this just now...

No, its most ancient art form goes
back more than 2000 years.

Artistic volcanic sand creation a means of news

Tourists from mainland Spain on the bus to La Orotava told the Tenerife holiday home insider that they wanted to see Papa Francisco in the sand carpet of 2017.

Latest sacred art made of Tenerife volcanic sand in 2018

By the way, June 27 of 2019 will be the next event for new art display of the Corpus celebration of La Orotava.

The next will be on June 23, 2022 all day again after the pause created by the Corona Virus Pandemic during more than two years. This date by the way also coincides with the beach festival of 2022 of the Playa Jardin San Juan Bonfires and music festival on its three seashores. Thereafter more Orotava sand carpets  are to follow in the years after, such as on June 15 of 2023 and on June 7 in 2024.  It falls on a different day every year. Also,  don't get confused with the church holiday of the Spanish Infraoctava of Corpus Christi  as it always proceeds. 

Sand craftworks on Tenerife of 2018Sand craftworks on Tenerife of 2018

Innovative themes adapted to problems of the the time, such as wars, domestic violence, and mass migrations

No to violence a 2018 motto remembered for Corpus ChristiNo to violence a 2018 motto remembered for Corpus Christi

In fact, many talked about Pope Francis alias Papa Francisco, as called in Spain, who is shown in the Orotava art with a fugitive on the bottom left. .

All three carpet parts of the Corpus Christie art of 2017 of Tenerife.

Other prime works where sand is used

Eastern culture such as Zen is brimming with crafts related to it.

The patterns of intricately raked dry gardens of finely crushed gravel by Buddhist temples are the most

Sand that represents water or rivers
by artistic means is much loved in parks and gardens of Japan. The motto in such cases is basically 'More is less'.

Then, there are artistic sand mandalas, too.

Art or sand crafts in Japanese gardens?

Depicted below is Japanese landscaping
with artistically arranged sand in a private semi 'dry garden' in the Western world.

Laura Scudder

In many parts of the world, sculptures made by moist beach sand have become the rage since last century.

Sand carpets

Sand carpets are much less known. Yet, there is one made yearly at La Orotava town hall of Tenerife Spain. Its aesthetics may be claimed to beat all others made with sand by its quality of godeous beauty, except by size.

By 1912, the evolution of this Corpus Christi sand art started very slowly.

Eventually, it replaced all flower petal crafts for the yearly event by the town square 'Plaza del Ayuntamiento'.

Now, its enormous progress doesn't only remind
Baroque paintings of fine art in
Tenerife churches but, fulfills other
criteria as well.

How volcanic sand from Mount Teide made a gigantic carpet of beauty possible

The volcanic sands from Spain's highest peak, the world's third biggest volcano come in all kinds of shades.

They can even be bought at the Casa de Artesania opposite the famous Casa de los Balcones.

Besides, it was possible to mix the sands from the Cañadas of Teide National Park. This provided different color variations easily. Also in the past, marble sand which was an exception filled a needed gap for the art work.

In 1906, everybody in La Orotava felt that the much admired new town square with its elegant surroundings should be used for Corpus Christi temporary art which could be sacrificed by walking over during the traditional procession.

The artists that made this possible by sand art

  • 1912 the flower carpet artist (alfombrist) Felipe Machado
  • Felipe Machado's nephew Tomás Machado y Mendéz Fernandéz de Lugo the architect
  • Pedro Hernández de Méndez de Lugo another related flower carpet artist
  • D.José Gonález Alonso
  • D.Ezequiel de León Dominguéz the sculptor
  • D.Domingo González Expósito the man who was born in Caracas and who is now also
    director for tuition to Corpus Christi flower artists. Its school is part of the Escuela Municipal de arte (Municial school of art and drawing) at the Casa de la Cultura de la Orotava
  • The young sand art students a town investment for present and future success of outstanding sand carpets
  • Also involved is the sculptor and painter Cristo Quintero, a very talented student of the late D.Ezequiel de León Dominguéz.

15 criteria of the history of art of the sand carpet of La Orotava

  1. A material, such as Teide sand which could be sprinkled with fingertips.
  2. 4 weeks and sometimes 45 days are needed for the final work of the carpet, the start of which is depicted, while preparations and planning take all year
  3. Methodical architectural design layout which may have 5 sections for a floor whose tiles made calculation easier
  4. Covering of the main joints of the paved town square
  5. Center partition for the Christ painting as focal point as most important topic of Corpus Christi
  6. Smoothness of surface where drawings with chalk could be done that could be colored-in by sand
  7. Sand art borders on the 4 sides of the carpet look alike, while more abstract details like petals are possible
  8. Details of painted topics which come from dogma church icons as well as from the Old and New Testament of the Bible
  9. Crushed and ground volcanic stones to almost dust to create veils (veladas) of clothes that float by the misting technique (esfumatos)
  10. Also, to achieve clouds with fog like effects (esfumatos) to suit the spiritualism of the Catholic religion
  11. Pedro Hernández de Mendéz added the technique of transparencies
  12. The introduction of optical illusion or 'trompe l'oeil', (the French art jargon)
  13. Sometime last century, somebody had the idea to use a partly open tent for the art workshop of the sand carpet
  14. 1947, the architect acquired the skill of perspective to the sand art of the gigantic carpet
  15. Mind that 3D street art may not really be an issue with works like the Orotava Corpus carpet

It took the artists of la Orotava's sand carpet of the Corpus celebration decades of trial and error to reach today's perfectionism of virtually fine art.

A TV channel's Eng Cameraman is doing video footage for the media while an artist is swinging a paint brush in June, 2014. It couldn't bee seen that anything was painted with it.

La Orotava's famous Corpus Christi sand art past.

  • 1264 Corpus Christi becomes worldwide dogma by Pope Urbano IV
  • 1847 Doña Leonor del Castillo de Monteverde starts the family's first flower carpet together with Miss Maria Teresa Monteverde y Bethencourt and Mrs.Pilar Monteverde y del Castillo.
  • 1869 - 1895 construction of a new Orotava town hall with social rooms for the people
  • 1905 Visit by the Royal Navy to the Orotava town hall
  • 1906 The welcome to King Alfonso XIII at the town hall
  • 1912 Architect Mariano Estanga's construction of the town hall 'Explanada' with black and white floor slabs on perfectly level grounds surrounded by elegant houses, palms and flower beds
  • 1847-1997 Anniversary of 150 years of sand painting art Orotava
  • 2007, June 13 Certificate by Guinness Book of Records for the world largest sand painting of 859,42m2 (9,250.7 square foot created in La Orotava

Walk down the virtual sand carpet memory lane...

Go back as far as 1968 by the following video. It contributes to the carpets' later art history when flowers and other material were not used any more besides sand.

Soil or sand?

Some locals refer to soil carpets (alfombras de tierra) instead of sand carpets. Perhaps, one could settle for sandy soil in some circumstances, while volcanic soils sounds rather odd.

The latest sand carpet of 2014

It's absolutely fine art and stunning. But it defeats a little the progress made for public perception. I missed my binoculars this year to see details in the side carpets from the height of the town hall balconies. Why? Too much picture content which tells stories should be less important with this kind of art. Also, it never fits into a normal camera lens.

From sand art back to Spain art


The Americanistas explained in detail how they improved sand art technics for the Orotava carpet. My browser Firefox won't connect to their pdf to prevent that their information may be stolen. That's the first time I hear this version why a web connection may not be safe by our latest standards. I am sorry I can't show you.

Street art made with salt in La Longuera of Los Realejos as alternative to Corpus Christi art with sand.

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