Spanish Slaughter Table
18" x 25" x 14.5"
This late 18th-century portable table was used by the working class for preparing animals. At each location the table was used, it would have four new legs cut and installed. The top has a hole cut into it for draining the blood of slaughtered animals. The wood on the top of the table is covered in peeling red and yellow paint. Historically, red symbolizes courage while yellow conveys the glory of God. As such, animals would trust God’s plan and face their imminent death with courage. In Spain, there is a centuries-old tradition of open-air pig slaughter using tables such as this one. This tradition is called la matanza. Matar means “to kill” in Spanish, but the word matanza refers to the whole process of slaughtering the pig. This involves the actual killing, the seasoning of the meat, and the packing of the meat. This undertaking took two to three days, and once it was complete, the same process would take place at a different location. This ritual was a core part of Spanish culture, and it provided food for people to survive the winter.
At this time in Spain, the country entered the Seven Years’ War in 1762. The battle had been raging since 1756, yet Spain had managed to remain neutral through the ministry of Ricardo Wall (1694–1777), who led the Spanish government during the early years of Charles III’s (1716–1788) reign. Spain aligned with France once the country formally entered the war, and fared poorly, as the British troops captured Havana and Manila within a year. When the war culminated in 1763, Spain was awarded the territory of Louisiana as compensation for its losses.