The bestiari festiu is the group of animal-shaped figures, bodies, and corporal or prosthetic elements. These depictions can be of real or imaginary animals, and are either realistic or fantastical in appearance.
They include dragons, wyverns, eagles, oxen, enormous mules, horses and tarasques (strange hybrid beings), lions and a long list of other creatures that cover the imaginary universe.
Whilst some of these animal representations, such as the dragon, may have an ancient origin, there was no consistency until the appearance of the Corpus feast. The participation of animal figures in the Corpus Christi procession, at first making up scenes from the lives of saints or sacred history, and then later on their own, left an interesting document trail that allows us to trace them through time, as well as their evolution within the festival.
After the Franco dictatorship, the recovery of the street as a recreational space contributed to the creation of new figures across the country, a phenomenon that still continues today.Is worth noting that, in addition to the recovery of what are considered to be traditional bestiaries, this part of the festival has prompted some very interesting creative processes that have led to the construction of some extremely beautiful and imaginative forms.
In Barcelona the bestiari festiu's participation is wide and varied. Beasts are found in cercavila parades, correfoc fire runs, processions, and so on. Their performances stem from absolute folly in moments of solemnity and strict protocol. The majority of neighbourhoods and districts have their own figure, with peculiarities they identify with.
Classifying the bestiary is a complex job, because of its enormous diversity. We will follow the classification proposed by the Agrupació de Bestiari Festiu i Popular de Catalunya, which is covers the Barcelona area. Based on function, it organises the bestiary figures into the following groups: fire, protocol, horses, animated and children's. The fact of belonging to one group of the bestiary is not exclusive, and a beast may be in several categories.