Carnival in Sardinia
Tell me what kind of carnival you like and I’ll tell you which part of Sardinia to visit.
As with many other things, Carnival on the island is celebrated differently depending on the area where you are: mystical and a bit gloomy in Barbagia, heroic and adventurous in Oristano, casual and light in Cagliari.
Carnival in Sardinia: Ottana
Carnival in Barbagia, especially in Ottana and Mamoiada, is serious. On this occasion, ancestral rites where mankind attempts to prevail over animals with his yoke and in both countries this struggle is revived.
Ottana is about 180 kilometres from Torre delle Stelle: the “sacrifice” of the move is rewarded by the show of the dance of Boes and Merdules.
The Boes, as you can guess, are the oxen while the Merdules are their owners. During the carnival, these two figures perform a chase in the streets of the country, where some try to prevail over others.
The Boes have a wooden mask that has the features of the ox, then they wear sheepskins and the classic bells that are used on animals.
Even the Merdules wear a mask, but with anthropomorphic features, are well dressed and try to command the animals with a stick and a leather rope.
A figure that adds to those just seen is the Filonzana, one of the few female masks: it is a woman dressed in black, old and lame who spins wool. The thread represents life and the Filonzana is ready to cut it at any time if she is not offered a drink (or if what is offered is not to her liking). He can order the Boes to die, they fall to the ground and rise again after a short time, as a symbol of the cycle of life.
Carnival in Sardinia: Oristano and Su Componidori
From the dark tones of Barbagia, passing the sparkling Sartiglia di Oristano.
Villa Verde and Oristano are slightly closer compared to Ottana and Mamoiada: the distance is only 125 kilometres.
The Sartiglia is a unique event, one of the oldest equestrian horse races still in existence. It is a race through the streets of the old town where the goal is to hit the target (a golden star hanging in mid-air) with a sword. Those who succeed in hitting the star will have good fortune, while those who do not succeed will not be kissed by luck. To get to the goal you perform reckless stunts, a way to demonstrate courage and skill in the ride.
Several knights participate in the race but the first of them is called Su Componidori, a sacred symbol for the whole city. The mask he wears makes him unapproachable as if he were a god: he is dressed in typical clothes in a public ritual. The special thing about dressing is that it happens on a table because Su Componidori cannot touch the ground until the end of the Sartiglia and will mount the horse from that same table.
Carnival in Sardinia: Cagliari and Ratantira
Those who do not like the dark tones of the barbarian carnival or the heroic ones of the Sartiglia can opt for the Carnival of Cagliari, which is brisk and noisy.
Cagliari is a few kilometres from the Guest House Villa Verde and therefore the distance can not be an excuse to miss this event!
The Carnival of the capital is a symbol of the characteristics of the inhabitants of the city: ironic, light and comical.
The parade that takes place between the streets of the centre is called Ratantira, an onomatopoeic term that recalls the sound of drums, plates and crackers, true protagonists of the event.
The traditional masks refer to certain historical characters of Cagliari: the baker of the Villanova district, rich, gossipy and irreverent; the junkie, a classic loser who does not work and spends time drinking in taverns; the inconsolable widow; the beggar and the fisherman.
To open the procession there is the bannerman who, following the rhythm of the drums, marks a very famous rhyme in Cagliari: cambara, and macioni, pisciurrè, sparedda and mumungioni (i.e. shrimp, prawns, prawns and gourmets, maidens, sparlotte and mormor), a proper ode to the sea.
The Cagliari Carnival ends with the procession and bonfire of the papier-mâché statue of the Artichoke (King George), the last night of excesses and madness before Lent.
Attempting to describe the emotions of the carnival in Sardinia is senseless, it is absolutely necessary to come and witness them in person.