A Virolla from Verdu (Lleida)

Virolla from Verdu (Lleida), private collection. (c) Àngels Escolà Valls, used with permission.

Previous posts dealt with the history and variation of tourniquets/ roulette wheels with a spinning needle in German speaking countries, in Britain, France and Italy (Drahndl, Glückszirkel, Tourniquet, Zeiger-Roulette: Glücksspiele mit Drehnadel), and with the Catalonian tradition specifically (Nachtrag zum Zeiger-Roulette – Glücksspiele mit Drehnadel: Virolla und Baboia in Katalonien).

In this post I’m presenting a virolla from Verdu (Lleida, Catalunya) that is in the private collection of Àngels Escolà Valls, a secondary school teacher (professora de secundària). The board is of unknown age and has not been published previously.

Virolla from Verdu (Lleida), private collection of Àngels Escolà Valls

The wooden board is in good shape, although the spinning needle is no longer attached to the board. The virolla is carved (not painted). It consists of 32 segments: 30 fields numbered 1-30 in Roman numerals, and two broader fields on opposite sides, one showing a dama (lady), the other showing what appears to be a four-legged animal, maybe a dog or cat. The center shows a flower with 12 petals.

Similar to what many other tourniquets with a spinning needle show, the numbers are arranged so that low and high values alternate. The lowest numbers, 1 and 2, are placed next to the lady (the highest value). On the opposite side, the 30 and 29 frame the figure of the animal (the lowest result). The next highest and lowest numbers (28 and 3, 27 and 4 etc.) are placed alternately on the other segments. Most pairs of numbers on opposite fields add up to 31. This scheme is abandoned, however, for the middle numbers (11-20) for no apparent reason. The number 16 is missing, while the 17 appears twice – in all likelihood a mistake.

Compared to the virollas described in the previous blog post, the board from Verdu belongs to the group of tourniquets with 32 segments (30 numbers and two images). One of the images shows a dama, like on several other tourniquets from the region, but the other image shows a four-legged animal – something which we haven’t seen on other boards. On some boards, these segments with images are the two highest results, on others they represent the highest and the lowest, respectively. The virolla from Verdu falls in the latter category.

Like most of the Catalonian virollas the numbers are not written in a consecutive series, but instead distributed so that the highest and lowest values are next to each other. The distribution only partly follows a recognizable scheme, with some of the numbers placed more or less randomly on the remaining fields, the main concern probably being that consecutive numbers not standing next to each other. Again, this is reminiscent of other virollas. Unlike the virollas from Tavertet, Manresa and Barcelona, the Roman numbering on the virolla from Verdu shows no idiosyncrasies like rotated numerals.

My thanks go to Àngels Escolà Valls for the permission to present her virolla, and use her photograph of the board.

The Wikidata item for this blog post is Q111295850.


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