What do we truly know of Sardinia? For example, do we know what are the Mamuthones? Or how is an ancient Sardinian marriage performed?
We can get on this beautiful island by ferry very easily and it is difficult to find elsewhere a place that offers both tradition and fun, beautiful beaches and wild nature and, yet, such a varied and succulent gastronomy.
But some of the many amazing historical and cultural features related to Sardinia are less known, so let’s unravel some curios and extraordinary facts regarding its traditions, its landscape and its culture.
– In Mamoiada, an area which is located in Barbagia about 60 km from Nuoro, there are the most incredible traces coming from the past and connecting to a very ancient local culture: even if it is a small region, you will find here the MAMUTHONES, the Sardinian traditional costumes considered among the most beautiful on the island and in the world: the Mamuthones are indeed a peculiar kind of carnival masks boasting a prehistoric origin and holding a great ethnographic interest. They are related to the ancient pastoral traditions still alive in Sardinia. Together with the other Issohadores masks, the Mamuthones are an important part of the Carnival of Mamoiada, also known as “the dance of the Mamuthones”.
The name seems to come from the Greek word “maimon” which means crazy, good for nothing. The clothes are made of skin folds, the masks are created from dark wood and heavy bells are placed on the back. The Mamuthones parade will see coming together groups of 12 (one for each month of the year) accompanied by Issohadores masks that would be their guardians.
Photo CC-BY-SA R.Ballore
– Do you know that one of the largest underground lakes in all of Europe is located in Sardinia? The LAKE LAMARMORA is an underground lake (130 meters long), wide even more than 25 meters and with a maximum depth of 9 meters.
This lake is located in the Cave of Neptune, one of the most famous among the many sea caves located in Sardinia. The cave can be found at the foot of Capo Caccia (Alghero), not far from Sassari. To access the cave you have to get off the Escala del Cabirol, consisting of more than 600 steps, or going there directly on the sea by boat.
– The Sardinian local crafts is one of the richest and detailed in Italy and has ancient origins. An outstanding feature is the many GEOMETRIC SHAPE decorations in the artcraft; this particular figurative expression is found in the figures belonging to the temples located at the nuragic holy well, a typical Sardinian hypogean structure designed, during the Bronze Age, to the worship of the waters. It prevailed even during the Roman time.
The geometric sign is present in the carpet drawings, vases, wedding crates and woven baskets made by the Sardinian women. The human figures are stylized and we cab find the same combinations belonging to gold or silver jewelry designs.
Thanks to the influence of the Phoenicians, the bright colours have added a twist to tapestries, carpets and the women’s clothes; instead they derive the splendour of ornaments and the use of gold from the Byzantines ruling. The blooms that we find in embroideries and fabrics are due to the early Renaissance influence.
– The vegetation of Sardinia is Mediterranean but still shows the characteristics that distinguish the island from other Italians regions; forests cover a fairly large area and, among other plants, stands the cork oak, also called cork. This plant is of particular importance for Sardinia and occupies approximately 60,000 ha of the isle; this means that it is two-thirds of the entire national wood heritage.
Most of the cork forests is located in the Gallura and characterizes the landscape of the North-east side. The cork oak is a beautiful tree with great foliage and reddish bark and is invaluable for what it offers: the acorns for animals, firewood, and, of course, the cork used all over the world.
Photo Public Domain
– Marriage is a moving and important ceremony for all the participants. In Sardinia there are still ancient customs that make the celebration of a Sardinian marriage a real exciting show. In the Sulcis region, exactly in Santadi, it takes place a Mauritanian-style MARRIAGE called “Sa Coja Maureddina“. The name has origins in the presence, in the past, of Africans landed in this area. Despite the name, it is still a Christian wedding, celebrated according to the rites of the Catholic Church.
Starting from the respective homes of the couple, the groom and the bride are riding each a decorated cart, called “traccas“, along with relatives, all of course dressed up with traditional costumes. They will reach the main square where the ceremony will take place. When it ended, the newly weds will distribute the nuptial bread to all present. There will also be numerous folk groups performing for the wedding and coming from all over Sardinia.
Another ancient rite is the one which takes place in Selargius: THE Selargino OLD WEDDING called “Sa Coja Antiga Cerexina“. It begins with the blessing of the couple in front of the door of their respective houses using wheat and salt, which have always been vital to the country’s inhabitants. Then the two processions make their way to the church where the celebration will take place in the Sardinian language; the bride and groom will be linked with “sa cadena”, the symbol of their unbreakable bond. Obviously in this case, all the participants will show off their most fantastic traditional clothing – and you can not miss the Sardinian folk music performed on the occasion!