The Fellowship of the HODLR Cloak
Only 21 custom cloaks will be made.
100% endangered local black sheep breed pure wool &
Limited edition 24k embroidery gold thread
HODLRS, the hardcore believers in Bitcoin.
The ones that know Bitcoin can change the system and the world.
Never selling, no matter what.
A cornerstone in Bitcoins mythology and the source of inspiration for this piece.
So how do you portray a HODLR?
I looked for something that in it´s very essence would portray the qualities of the HODLR.
A tribe that shares a common ideal.
Humble warriors in a battle for a better world.
Strong handed individuals.
And then I found it. A garment suited only for the finest defenders of the citadel.
The Alistane Cape is a special traditional handmade garment, worn only in NW Spain and NE Portugal in certain occasions. It has a fascinating and mysterious long history, starring Roman legions, monks and humble shepherds and black sheep.
The artistic genesis of this work has been a challenging process. As Ariadna, I had to find and pull a thread to find my way; As Jason, I ended up searching for a fleece, a black fleece.
Trips of hundreds of miles, countless research and conversations with all kinds of people in a far away land.
So get comfortable and enjoy the tale of The Fellowship of the Hodlr Cloak.
Our story begins centuries ago in the inhospitable North West Spanish highlands…
Meet its main characters.
Sub occasu pacata erat fere omnis Hispania, nisi quam Pyrenaei desinentis scopulis inhaerentem citerior adluebat Oceanus. Hic duae validissimae gentes, Cantabri et Astures, inmunes imperii agitabant.
In the west almost all of Hispania was already at peace, except for the part of Citerior, clinging to the cliffs at the end of the Pyrenees, caressed by the ocean. Two very powerful peoples, the Cantabrians and the Astures, not subject to the Empire, were agitated here.
Lucius Annaeus Florus, Roman historian.
The Cantabrian wars were one of Augustus’s most challenging campaigns. Forcing him to go there in person, they mobilized eight full Roman legions in a brutal war that lasted a decade.
X Gemina, and IV Macedonica, both with the legion symbol of a bull, remained stationed there for 70 years. War and occupation also meant cultural exchange and mutual influence. The Romans brought their Gods and goods.
One of these goods was the legionaries thick wool cloak, the paenula. The garment was made from dark brown local wool.
Dark and turbulent times came after the fall of the Roman Empire. Centuries will pass until we hear again about brown wool cloaks in the region. Those of the Saint Mary of Moreruela Abbey's monks.
Established by Cistercians at 1131, very close to the old Roman forts, the Abbey was a formidable economical and cultural force in the area until the XIX century.
It is precisely then, with the Roman forts long forgotten and the Abbey in ruins, that the advent of photography allows us to have a glimpse of our cloak for the first time. Now a local traditional garment, 'capa de honras o alistana', was worn in special community occasions.
Still a live tradition in a small part of Spanish Zamora and Portuguese Miranda do Douro, a few seamstress´ make them by hand, using only the wool from a breed of local endangered sheep. Highly appreciated, it is also a special gift given to high regarded people.
For this cloak I teamed up with Rafaela Fernández, a now semiretired seamstress that has dedicated her life to make these garments. Her work is inspired by cloaks sometimes more than a hundred years old. Rafaela has an unmatched expertise and a profound knowledge of the huge diversity of the traditional motives that embellish these garments. She was recently commissioned to make one for Pope Francis.
This work has been an invaluable opportunity for me to come back to textile art, an artistic form that I love and have explored before.
*an example of an embroidery piece I made from 2013
This cloak wouldn't have been possible of course without the most humble, yet indispensable, character of our story. The black Castellana endangered breed sheep. Her ancestor was the local celtiberian breed that the Romans found when they arrived to the peninsula. Just one of the multiple, fascinating and sadly endangered landscapes of farm animal breeds exquisitely adapted to the local weather and conditions of life by centuries of hard work. Now, wool is unfairly not appreciated, but it was highly regarded by our ancestors and was an important basic commodity. Let's hear the elders more...
Hispania nigri velleris praecipuas habet.
Spain has the best black wool.
Pliny the Elder
Contact me to commission your custom made HODLR Cloak.
As I´ve mentioned before, I have to thank many people that participated and helped me along this project in Barcelona, Extremadura and especially Zamora. As always, off the beaten track, Spain warms my heart with the hospitality and authenticity of its wonderful people.
This was a dream trip where I met shepherds, animal farm dealers, goat cheese makers, wool artisans and a long etcetera. I had the privilege to experience first hand how this beautiful garment tradition is celebrated at it´s annual celebration event by honorable and beautiful people that know and keep close to their hearts their priceless traditions to be shared with all.
A special mention go to Andrés, the head of the local association of promotion and study of the Alistana cape. A true guardian angel that is always on duty to defend the true essence of this tradition, to keep it alive, truthful and open to be celebrated and enjoyed by all.