With the lighting of the spectacular bonfires in honour of Sant’Antonio Abate, an ancient, solemn rite performed in many of the island’s towns, Sardinia reawakens its spirit and enthusiasm during Carnival.
Su Karrasecare has many different sides to it and each community celebrates it with its own traditions, vocations and spirit. January 17 marks the beginning as the bonfires of Sant’Antonio are lit, and Ash Wednesday marks the end, with celebrations in Ovodda.
Accompanied by the rhythm of the tumbarinos (drummers) the age-old rituals celebrate the binaries of both the sacred and the profane, the religious and the mysterious.
Traditional masks (de su connottu) worn by the communities of the Barbagia, create an intense and mystifying experience for audiences.
The main actors in this are the Mamuthones. Dressed in black sheepskins, they hide their faces behind fearful wooden masks and perform ancestral dances to the sound of cowbells on their backs. Issohadores in red shirts and white masks then attempt to capture the men in animal masks.
The sos karrasegares a caddu are also a great spectacle in Sardinia with equestrian events such as the Carrela ‘e Nanti at Santu Lussurgiu (Montiferru region) and the acrobatics of the Pariglie at Bonorva (Meilogu region). But of all of them, the equestrian joust of the Sartiglia in Oristano is perhaps the most exciting. On Carnival Sunday and Mardi Gras men on horseback race down Via del Duomo during the corse alla stella, as they run for the star.
Mardi Gras is therefore a very special day. In the morning is what is called, s’Attiddu, when men smeared with soot wear women’s masks and walk about with high pitch voices and deep laments.
Finally, at the Tempio Pausania, in Gallura, with traits borrowed from Viareggio and Venice, the festivities are even more spectacular and entertaining.
Of course, these are only a few of the countless festivals on the island and there really is nothing like them in all of Italy.
A cosa fatta non balet pentimentu!
Doing one thing is not worth repenting!