60. ‘Las Tabas’

Argentina
Size: 72 × 32 cm; 62 × 40 cm
Bone, iron, silver and wood.

When, in the year 1536, Pedro de Mendoza arrived at the green desert called ‘Las Pampas’, the land beyond ‘El Rio de La Plata’, he brought with him a few cows and horses. Unfortunately for him, the local natives preferred to eat him and set the cattle free, instead of the other way round as he probably proposed. This is how some years later the whole Pampas became filled with these four-legged animals, until the endless flat land had as many cows as the stars in the sky. Among them lived the gauchos. The link has long been established between the Berber cultures of North Africa and the spirit of these outlaws, riding through the vast land between the Native Indians and the Colonial Spaniards.

The gauchos invented the taba, a game with very basic rules. A bone from the cow’s knee is thrown 5 metres ahead, landing heads up or down, lucky or not; suerte o culo. Simple as it sounds, the taba game is still played in the Pampas, sometimes for a lot of money, often involving some shedding of blood.

Two sets of five of these tabas are shown, held by silver wire to a pair of batijuela trays.

Ricardo Paz