DP - BLACK ZIGGY
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Lord of the Rocks
Friday, 10 June 2005
In the hands of Fla3v1orS.
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Black Ziggy is a dark limestone block that WAS a participant in a one year Travel Bug race around the world to promote awareness for the Portuguese Calçada (or paving). The race finished today, 10 June 2006. However, since BLACK ZIGGY has picked up so much speed, please keep on looking after him and keep sending him on his merry way.
If anyone is coming to BLACK ZIGGY's home country, Portugal, please bring him back.
About This Item
Calçada Portuguesa is the traditional paving used in most pedestrian areas in Portugal. Being usually used in sidewalks, it is in plazas and atriums this art finds its deepest expansion.
Origins: Paving as a craft is believed to have originated in the regions of Mesopotamia, where rocky materials were used in the inside and outside of constructions, being later brought to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The Romans used to pave the vias that brought together the empire using materials to be found in the surroundings. Some of the techniques introduced are still applied on the Calçada, most noticeably the use of a foundation and a surfacing. It is now widespread throughout the world as a result of the expansion of the Portuguese empire.
Arab presence in the peninsula left traces not only in language, but also in the art of paving. To provide most wanted water to crops, the Moors engineered a complex system of dams and waterways. Examples of the latter, know as acequias, can still be found in Portugal and Spain.
Setting the stones: Upon a well compacted trench of argillaceous materials, craftsmen lay a bedding of gravel, which will accommodate the stones, acting as a cement.
An unsure future: Once an activity performed by hundreds of craftsmen in Portuguese cities and villages, traditional paving is increasingly becoming restricted to conservation works or important architectural projects. Less abundant materials, dwindling numbers of craftsmen and criticism to its widespread use are forcing municipalities to consider other alternatives.
Indeed, very few calceteiros will admit to enjoying this arduous labour, where long hours are spent painstakingly laying the stones in a prostrated position. Low wages fail to attract apprentices.
Paved sidewalks also present hazards to distraught pedestrians and unpleasant barriers to people with physical impairments.
The high cost and reduced robustness of traditional paving in comparison with concrete-based or betuminous materials, which have the additional advantage of not requiring specialised craftsmen, are favouring views that its use should be restricted to conservation works or historical areas.
Watch your step... you might be treading waves, stars, fishes, sea monsters and flowers.
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