An island scarcely touched by time,
abundant in beauty, handed-down traditions and unique colorful folk costumes - this is Sardegna. What makes this island so appealing is the Sardinian way of life. They have managed to preserve their identities through the generations with the folk costumes they wear during their great festivals. And, the costumes all vary from town or village. It is easy to recognize someone from another area according to the costumes worn and the local traditions. A different colored skirt, or a slightly varied style in a hat, lighter or heavier material, or even special embroidery on a vest are a few of the indicators of a Sardi's origin. The wearing of colourful costumes by the Sardi has deep meaning both individually and as communities. It reminds them of the historical importance these costumes represent as well as who they are. Folk costumes are worn by participants of the
over one thousand festivals celebrated on the island each year.
� Deborah K. Millemaci 1998-1999
Article Revised: November 01, 1999
Portions of this Article Appeared in the June/July 1998 Issue of:
GENEALOGIA ITALIANA - Buffalo, New York
Former Newsletter of the Buffalo & Western New York
Italian Genealogy Society
In Oristano for example, the "Sartiglia" (held on the last Sunday and Shrove Tuesday before Lent) is said to be one of the most interesting folk festivals. It is reminiscent of the medieval horse tournaments, and one of the alluring aspects actually occurs before the tournament begins. The central figure of the festival, the "Componidori," is seated in a chair which rests on top of a table and dressed by the younger women of the town ("massaieddas,") who are also in the costumes of Oristano. As with the other riders in Sartiglia, he is elegantly attired in a white frilly shirt, white pants, red or black vests, black boots and hat. Except for the Componidori, the masks worn by the other riders are identical in design. The masks are white also, but they characteristically bear female features. In the dressing of the Componidori, a delicate white lace veil is placed under his hat and gently frames the mask. It is then secured with red ribbons and a red rose. Once dressed, the Componidori is carried and placed upon his horse. The riders of the Sartiglia all share a common goal. They must "spear" as many "stars" suspended in mid-air as they can. Tradition says the more stars a rider catches the better the harvest will be.
In Cagliari, Sardegna's capital, the feast of Sant'Efisio, is celebrated in grand style the first four days in May. As many as 5,000 Sardi participate in this festival and a rainbow of colors will be seen in the costumes worn. Exquisite tapestries in vibrant hues adorn the carts used by the participants. Even the oxen who pull the carts are decorated with flowers for this special occasion.
The town of Nuoro has further enhanced the island's culture with her contribution of authors in the cultural and political fields. One of her "daughters", Grazia Deledda was a Nobel Prize winning author who wrote several fictional books surrounding the town of Barbagia which is centrally located within Sardegna.
The largest province in Italy, Sassari is also known for holding a spectacular celebration "Cavalcata Sarda," (Sardinian Cavalcade.) Held on the second last Sunday in May it is attended by people from all over the island in their superb customary costumes. The festival includes horseraces and other horseriding exhibitions as well as traditional folk music and dancing. The Sardi used to wear their costumes all the time but in recent years they have been saved for their great feasts and festivals.
Poetry, music, and dance are also important parts of Sardinian lifestyles. The shepherds of the island pride themselves on their knowledge of the poets and love to have competitions during festivals to see who is the best at reciting poetry. The music of Sardgena is very old but fascinating. The traditional muscial instrument played by the shepherds is the "Launeddas," which is made up of three different-sized connected tubes that produce a sound the likes of which you
have never heard. This is because circular breathing is used by the player of the Launeddas. And in addition to these time honored customs, it is interesting to note that the Sardi have their own calendar to follow. Their New year begins on September 1st and they have their own special names for each month.
The prehistoric history of Sardegna will be seen in the cone-shpaed structures known as the "nuraghi." these are large layed stones shaped in a tower-like design, which are found all over the island especially in the less populated area. And the rocky coastline only enhances the island's natural beauty.
The foods of Sardegna are elegantly simple. Bread is one of the most important foods on the island. It is a primary food source for the sheep-herders who are away from home for long periods of time. The bread they carry to sustain themselves on these long journeys is called "carasau or carta da musica" (music paper,) and will last a long time. Other food consumed by the shepherds include lamb, milk, and cheese. There are breads available for religious observances, various days of the week, and even a "Funeral Bread" which is made with dark
wheat flour which signifies mourning.
Another main food served in Sardegna is a small shell-like pasta called "malloreddus," which is served with sausages and tomatoes. Various types of fish and wild game are also part of the Sardi diet. Now sheep-herding is the main occupation so the sheep are not only used for many a barbecue, but the sheep?s milk is the main ingredient for the many different cheeses as well. A softer cheese is used for making a wonderful dessert known as "sebadas." It is a round cheese-filled ravioli which is fried and sprinkled with a bitter honey found exclusively on the island.
Natural beauty, treasured customs, traditions and its people are what makes Sardegna an unforgettable experience.
Sardegna is located west off the mainland of Italy, surrounded by the Mediterrean Sea. Population is approximately 1,600,000 people.