La Parva Domus Magna Quies
Located in the Punta Carretas district of Montevideo, Uruguay. The Palace of Parva Domus was built in 1878. It is “situated in an old mansion, with a very beautiful garden, in an aristocratic neighborhood”. Before this, there were only some dilapidated hovels at that location, which itself was only filled with clover, thistles, clumps of grass, and an assortment of prickly and thorny plants. The rooms had dirt floors and some of them didn't even have a roof. A man named José Achinelli (progenitor of all the Parvense people) used to go fishing nearby every Sunday. To reach his destination, he had to endure an arduous and stressful ride in an overcrowded, horse-drawn streetcar. So eventually, the run-down structures became a familiar sight to Achinelli, who learned the name of their owner from one of the locals. So in order to have a place to rest and regain his strength after the uncomfortable commute, he then decided to rent one of the dingy rooms (number 4) for $3 per month. In the beginning, it was nothing more than a place for him to store his belongings and to cook his stew. But soon thereafter, many of his friends became enamored of the idea and began to join him there. One of them, Rivas Zuchelli, was an avid reader. He became enchanted with the Latin phrase “Parva Domus Magna Quies”, which he found in one of his books; unaware of its significance, he then took a piece of coal from the fireplace and scrawled it above the door of room #4. When Achinelli arrived, he was in a foul mood at having caught no fish; he quickly erased the inscription from the bricks. According to tradition, one kept writing it, and the other kept removing it; until one day, two passing priests happened to translate the motto for them: “small house, great quiet”, “little dwelling of great peace”. Only then did Achinelli realize how profoundly pertinent the words were, and how succinctly they summed up the very sentiment which caused him and the other men to unite. He gleefully asked Zuchelli to re-write the phrase, but this time with paint. Soon, a unique flag was sewn for them. It was hoisted, on a pole they'd erected in front of their small building, on August 25, 1878. This is considered to be the date of Parva Domus' founding. It took place at four in the morning, in the presence of more than 20 friends. In time, all the rooms were fixed up, and in order to accommodate the ever-growing group, a good deal of remodeling took place. They even added a museum, in which hundreds of priceless items and important mementos are on display. Eventually, the Parva Domus would have 843,196 citizens (239-250 of which are still living). This short history, perhaps fictional or perhaps factual (or perhaps an even mixture of the two), was lifted from a narrative written by a Mr. Julio Russi, in connection with the issuance of an official 2003 Uruguayan postage stamp which commemorates the 125th anniversary of the Parva Domus.
According to other sources, the Sociedad Parva Domus began as a peculiar cultural association; a place of gathering for participants of the local fishing parties. On August 4, 1895, the members of this Society assembled and decided that their name would be changed to “República de Parva Domus Magna Quies”. It is a place of relaxation and recreation, distant from the bustle of the city, and largely ignored by most Montevideans. Inside the Republic, “passionate discussions are not permitted”, and one can't speak about politics and religion (perhaps the prohibition extends even to economics, or any other subject which causes division among people). Their credo alludes to Tolerance, Friendship, Fraternity, and Equality; and they are well-known for their sumptuous meals.
After World War I, they wanted to emulate the Swiss and form their own type of Dadaist movement (which was founded in Zurich); at the time, Uruguay was considered the “Switzerland of South America” (due to its social peace, its relatively stable democracy, and its advanced level of economic development). They were serious admirers of the poet Comte de Lautréamont, who was born in Montevideo. This brotherhood has its own President, Vice-President, Ministers, and Ambassadors. Some of their laws are downright droll and surreal, and they are fond of comical rituals and customs. The Republic is reminiscent of a “secret society”, and it is surrounded by a myth of impenetrability. Their membership is restricted to those of the masculine gender, and its members have included some of the most illustrious names in the field of academia, the arts (painters, photographers, singers, musicians, actors), science, and high-society (including some millionaires). Even though one of the articles in their Constitution states that “Neither women, nor animals, nor inferior beings” are admitted inside, females are actually allowed entrance twice a year, for a special dinner. I learned a portion of this information from one of its citizens, Mr. Walter Carrasco. Here is one more odd thing he had to say: “The only one who commands us is the president and we all obey him with pleasure and admiration because he is our teacher, because in the parva domus, we are ignorant people and the person who enlightens us is the president when he talks and explains what he is saying because we never understand anything.”
In 2003, they issued 3 coins to commemorate their anniversary. These were 1 Peso Cobre, 5 Pesos Plata, and 10 Pesos Oro. Previously, under the name “Republica Parvense”, they had issued a 1953 10 Pesos Oro (perhaps this coin commemorates their 75th anniversary), and an undated 1 peso (one catalogue states circa 1890s; but it is more than likely from 1953 as well, or possibly from 1928, when the Parva Domus would have reached its 50th anniversary). These coins were purportedly used for gambling, and perhaps also used for buying other items within the walls of the Republic. They have also produced some banknotes, including a humorous one for the absurd amount of 499 Pesos.
Chiefa Coins