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Posts Tagged ‘Sardinia’

Mamuthones and Issohadores

Off the coast of Italy, on the island of Sardinia, there is a village called Mamoiada where festivals are held throughout the year, many having origins in ancient pagan ceremonies.  Appearing in several of these fests, some of which are described as being Festivals of Good and Evil,  are two symbolic characters called Mamuthones and Issahadores, representing the two forces.

It’s not completely clear as to the exact meaning of the symbols but in the most widely believed version it is said that the Issahadores, dressed in their red shirts and white wooden masks,  represent the early shepherds of Sardinia and their victory over the invading Saracens who are represented by the Mamuthones, dressed in their furry suits laden with cowbells and wearing black masks.  They parade through the town with the Issahadores leading a procession of the imprisoned Mamuthones in rows of two.  As the Mamuthones walk they heave upward with their bodies in unison and come down hard creating a huge sound with the many cowbells on their costumes.  It creates a rhythmic throb of sound that fills the streets.  The Issahadores at the front and rear of the parade periodically use their lassos to snare women from from the crowd.

There are other interpretations as to what these characters represent but whatever the case, it’s quite a spectacle.  I don’t know why I show this today.  I saw a brief clip of their parade and was really taken by it.  The sound, the rhythm, the the striking sight of the costumed characters as they do their simple choreography.  It just reeked of a symbolism that you don’t need to know to appreciate, like looking at a painting and being moved without understanding why.

So this Sunday I start my day with echo of the Mamuthones’ bells throbbing in my ears, inspired…

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