The dark and ancient world of Sardinia’s Carnival emerges every year, like a dream we considered lost.
On the island, the event is known as “carresecare”, meaning “meat to chop into pieces”: live meat, echo of pagan rites during which a sacrificial victim – usually a young goat or bull – represented a god that had been killed and was born again in a new form.
Our gallery today includes a selection of images from Sardinian carnival celebrations.
Some photos are dedicated to the peculiar Carnival traditions and costumes of Barbagia – a vast region at the center of the island, extending across the sides of the Gennargentu massif.
In Mamoiada, the famous “Mamuthones” and “Issohadores” perform a slow, ancient dance that creates a composed procession, marked by the rhythmic sound of the cowbells attached to their shoulders.
There are photos from the Sartiglia, a fascinating and mysterious race held on the Sunday and Tuesday of the Oristano Carnival, as Sardinian-origin poet Antonella Anedda has described:
“A man known as ‘su Componidori’ is dressed by three women, who put a nondescript wooden mask on his face: smooth, white and androgynous.”
That is the most solemn moment in the exciting joust between masked knights from different “gremi”, that is the ancient arts and crafts corporations that organize the event every year.
Only “su Componidori” can guide the knights in the race, with the goal of sticking the “sartiglia”, a silver star hung from a thread.
After getting dressed on a table – possibly as respected as an altar – “su Componidori” cannot touch the ground until the races are over: he goes from the podium to his horse, and as Anedda explains “in order not to fall, and to fight fear and powerlessness, he can only count on the strength of his own legs. He lives as in a dream, becoming all the men and the women he was and whose names mix one with the other until they are lost.”