The Otherworldly Ancient Costumes of Sardinia's Mountain People

“Over centuries, a lack of contact with the outside has certainly strengthened the island's identity, and attachment to its roots.”

10 dicembre 2020, 8:45amSnap

This article was originally published on VICE Italy.

Born to a Sardinian mother, Marina Spironetti is a photojournalist living in Milan. For the past four years, she’s been documenting the virtually unchanged ancient customs of Barbagia, a vast mountainous region in central Sardinia.

Her photo book, Sealess, published by Crowdbooks, tells the story of the “other Sardinia, in contrast to the tourist images usually associated with the island", says Spironetti.

IN THE TOWN OF OTTANA THERE ARE TWO MAIN MASKS: “ONE IS ELEGANT AND REFINED, WITH BULL FEATURES AND LONG HORNS; THE OTHER DARK AND ANTHROPOMORPHIC, WITH DEFORMED FEATURES."

For her, this area is both the "beating heart of the island" and "the lesser-known, untouched area".

Spironetti says the title of the project refers to the idea of ​​the sea as a threat. “It’s something deeply rooted in Sardinian culture: from a certain point on in their history, Sardinians stopped accepting the inevitability they would be overtaken by invaders,” she says. “Suffice to say, no government – neither from Pisa, nor the Aragonese-Spanish, nor the Savoy – was able to exercise a true authority over these lands.”

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The first half of the book is dedicated to the masks of the Barbagia carnival, which are all related to “ancient agrarian rites, death and the rebirth of nature”. The second half is dedicated to the traditional female costumes of Sardinia.

TRADITIONAL DRESS OF DESULO, IN THE PROVINCE OF NUORO.

“I believe that Sardinia, like all other islands, is geographically and historically a world apart from other places. Over centuries, a lack of contact with the outside has certainly strengthened its identity and attachment to its roots,” concludes Spironetti.

Scroll down to see more photos from ‘Sealess’, which is available to purchase here.

TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM GAVOI, A TOWN IN THE PROVINCE OF NUORO.

TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM GAVOI, A TOWN IN THE PROVINCE OF NUORO.

DURING THE RITE OF SU BATTILEDDU [DEPICTED IN THE OPENING PHOTO], SOME MEN "WEAR THEIR CLOTHES TO MOURN WIDOWS. THEY COVER THEIR HEADS WITH A HEAVY SHAWL."

TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM FLORINAS, A TOWN IN THE PROVINCE OF SASSARI.

TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM GAVOI, TOWN IN THE PROVINCE OF NUORO.

"IN THE VILLAGE OF OROTELLI, CHARACTERS CALLED 'THURPOS' HAVE BEEN MADE BLIND BY SORROW: THEY MOURN THE DEATH OF THE BRIDE AND THE GOD OF VEGETATION. THE THURPOS ARE DEEPLY CONNECTED TO EARTH."

Costumes native to the village of Orotelli.

TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM FLORINAS, A TOWN IN THE PROVINCE OF SASSARI.

TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM GAVOI, TOWN IN THE PROVINCE OF NUORO.

Tagged:

tradition, VICE International, VICE Italy, sardinia

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by Milou Deelen; photos by Lin Woldendorp; translated by Mari Meyer