Curiosities and traditions of Sardinia

Mamoiada's Carnival

Mamoiadas, Carnival is perhaps the best known in all of Sardinia thanks to the dance of mamuthones, typical of the figure Nuoro. It is a rural dance to drive away evil spirits that dates back to the nuragic age (ca. 3,500 years ago). The origins of this dance are unclear, it was maybe a dance to worship animals, as protection against evil spirits, propitiatory harvest and worship view of the water as a source of life. Other scholars think it is all that remains of a Dionysian dance that represents the sacrifice to the god who dies and rises again at the beginning of the agricultural season. The mamuthones are twelve and they are always dressed in black: sheepskin sleeveless jacket with fleece brought outside, pants and leggings, his face always bring a wooden mask painted black with sad expression that recalls the faces of bronzes nuragici; The head is covered with a handkerchief and woman on his back carrying cowbells.
Next to this figure there is another figure that represents their guardians: Issohadores. These are dressed in red jackets, colored shawls on their shoulders, silver bells on the chest and white handkerchiefs on the face. The guardians are 8 and parade ordered in two outer rows, while 12 mamuthones dance, alternating composure in sudden bursts. They move slowly and apparently stomped, all synchronized perfectly. It begins, starting with the left foot followed by a shrug of the right shoulder, a movement that stirs the silver bells that have on the chest. The issohadores possess a sort of rattan whip called soca that they use to engage viewers in a game that looks like a "catch" that getting rid must offer a drink.

The rain ritual in Sardinia

When drought was very severe it resorts to a more private and secret ritual that took place the night of the new moon and was practiced, at least according to tradition, only men.
The practice, which seems to be very ancient, was in force in Sardinia but there is information that it was also practiced in Corsica, perhaps an ancient memory of human sacrifice to the rain bringer of life. In a night of the new moon, an odd number of men took from the graveyard an odd number of skulls that were bound together with a rush so they would not be lost and then hang them to a bush near a river. If there were impediments, at a later time, without reaching the river skulls were immersed in a water tank, the kind used by the peasants in the countryside to collect rain water or rivers to water the vegetable gardens, the important thing was that there was always the water as an element.
If the skulls were found of children were only immersed in a stream, two or three days later, when the rain began to fall copious, they reported the ossuary skulls. The failure to perform the recovery of skulls would have had a storm, with serious damage to crops and people. You want the custom is completed around the beginning of 1900, but we have evidence that, although prohibited, continued until 1930-1950
The skulls had to be put back in place once the rain started, because otherwise you would have caused a storm.

"Canto a tenore", typical Sardinia song

The tenor singing is part of Sardinian folk music and there is no festival or party island where these groups are not called to appear. Typically, the group consists of four male voices (vocals, bass, contra and mezza voce) singing together in a circle giving the impression that the source of the sound is unique, do not use written music and this musical and cultural tradition is passed down from father to son. Their song is closely linked to improvised poetry, even if they are perfectly able to perform songs built on poems written by classical authors of Sardinian literature. Their songs describe moments in the life of every day, the agro-pastoral and craft world, as can be love, religion and satirical poetry. The guttural singing technique and that of the strained sound make this unique song of its kind. The origins of this technique are still unknown, although many scholars believe they have limited plausible hypothesis; some attribute to the "low" producing a noise like the bellowing of an ox, the "contra" seems to bleat like a sheep and "low voice" appears to mimic the wind rustling through the trees, all typical features and sounds of nature Sardinian, others liken this song with the older Greeks, where the masks were used to amplify the voice as well as his palms in Sardinia.

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