Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Vase That Gave Birth To Colombia

Imagine coming across a box of tea from the Boston Tea Party. I did when wondering around a museum in the center of Bogota last week. Well, actually it wasn't a box of tea but its Colombian equivalent - a flower vase. Diana checking out the Florero de Llorente:

If you're not up on your United States history, the Boston Tea Party wasn't really a party but rather a protest in 1773 Boston where the colonists protested what they saw as unfair British taxes. The colonists boarded a ship full of tea in the Boston Harbor and threw the tea overboard. This act is seen as one of the things that led to the American Revolution.

In much the same way, an event in 1810 "instigated" by the Florero de Llorente (the Llorente flower vase) symbolizes the eventual separation of Colombia from Spain. A close-up of the Colombian-independence vase:

From what I understand, a group of Creole (Colombian-born Spaniards) separatists went to borrow the vase from Llorente who was a cranky local Spanish merchant with a shop located across from Bogota's main plaza. They knew that the request to use the vase as the centerpiece at a dinner celebration of another local Creole would be rejected by a "real" Spaniard. Once the rejection was received, the Creoles would spread out in the plaza and begin to fire up the locals against the Spanish. As part of the ruse, another Creole verbally attacked Llorente, which led to a fist fight between Llorente and the Creole outside Llorente's shop.

The image of the fist fight over a flower pot, which I photographed of the souvenir post card the museum gave out, is now iconic of the Colombian independence movement:

So yes, Colombia eventually got its independence because of a relatively ugly flower vase rather than some tea thrown into a bay. As the term Tea Party has been adopted by a rightist political group in the U.S., I wonder if Colombia will ever have something like the Florero party?

The view from Llorente's shop's balcony, which you can see in the above painting, overlooking Bogota's Plaza Bolivar:

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