Artistic project “Sa Sartiglia”
Sa Sartiglia is an artistic project by Nicola Marongiu that praises Oristano’s tradition and its archetypes. It comes into being from Sardinia’s infinite facets, revealed through the uniqueness of each work of art, from the particular to the universal. The starting point is Su componidori’s mask that, going beyond the suggestive and exclusive set of Oristano’s spectacular and exciting Carnival, makes the spectator the protagonist of its timeless entity.
To achieve his vision Marongiu combines this revealed (universal and timeless) dimension with the choice of innovative materials such as carbon, titanium, glass fibre, Kevlar. He relies on an exclusive collaboration with Alfonso Canfora, who transforms these materials through a precious and careful handcraft process. Works of art such as Bella’e die, Maitzóla, Camelia, Moros, Tirsu, DNA (…) and the triptychs Über Alles, Equinóziu, Destinu, Essèntzia, born from the complementarity of Canfora and Marongiu, are moulded in eternal symbol.
FROM THE GOD TO THE BEAST: NOW ONLINE
to the Water-Worship
Prehistoric, historic and contemporary times
Voyage through the places, the rites and the traditions of Sardinia, with a glance into their ancient roots, behind carnival masks. The interconnections between the signature elements of Sardinian Carnival – with its various typical characters as well as its ritual combats – and Death and Resurrection Myths that can also be found in rites of Adonis (Siria, Phoenicia), Dyonisus (Greece), Baal (Canaan) Osiris (Egypt), Tammuz (Babylonia). The “Carnival” (Italian: “Carnasciale”, Sardinian: “Carrasciale”, “Carresegare” or “Carrasegare”) read as “submersion, flooding, inundation and desecration” of the Power. The precious traditional event held at Oristano during Carnival, called “Sartiglia”, can also be observed into its genesis, into its ancient inception – way beyond of its reformulation occured during the times of spanish domination in Sardinia. In this way, going back to the archaic roots of Sartiglia, we can look at the true nature of “Su Componidori” (the sacred and leading character of Sartiglia, holding that special object named “Pippia de Maju”) as a Shaman, an Estatic, a Prophet: “the one who makes water pouring out from clouds”.
Related to water worship, we also have various nuragic holy wells and springs, in Sardinia. Waters known as healing, miraculous: for example, in San Leonardo di Siete Fuentes (located next to Santu Lussurgiu) Templars even built an hospital, as well as a church. Therefore, we can find many types of Sardinian ritual/ceremonial breads, related to ancient rites dedicated to Adonis. An example is Su Pani de is Bagadius, in Siurgus Donigala: they use to transport this special bread, evoking the Dead Jesus Christ on the Cross. Priestesses and priests, just as the various personifications of Nature’s God, have been morphed (reversing their original sense) over the time into “devils” (Maimòni/Maimòne, Cambilargiu, Brutu, Mascazzu, Leunardu, Musteddìnu/Boe Muliake), in Sardinia. Everything about this is related to the same cult: the Cult of Water.
Sardinia, stunning holiday destination but, first and foremost, sacred place – in the deep, powerful sense of the word – rich in evidences, as we have seen; and we must take care of such evidences, we have to preserve them and to interconnect them, in order to be able to get (so to share) the Essence: a Holy Well, a Nuraghe, a Domu de Jana, the Giants of Mont’e Prama, as well as each and every word, expression, tradition and toponym of Sardinia, are our Treasure.
In this documentary preview are visible the installations which are part of the artistic project called “Sa Sartiglia”, and they have been composed choosing from among 33 artworks of the first cycle originated through the collaboration between Nicola Marongiu and Alfonso Canfora.
Each artwork is uniquely named and is moulded into materials connected or inspired by elements, archetypes, geographical names, traditions and rites that bring to the Universal through the Particular.
Symbolic locations chosen for these installations, are:
Pozzo Sacro of Sardara (archaeological site of Sant’Anastasia)
San Leonardo di Siete Fuentes, Santu Lussurgiu
Nuraghe Losa, Abbasanta.
“Sa Sartiglia” images
A sneak preview of “Sardegna Tempio delle Acque: behind the scenes”. Some Artworks from Sa Sartiglia artistic project are visible here as protagonists of the installations composed in the symbolic locations of Sardegna Tempio delle Acque.
Sardegna Tempio delle Acque: behind carnival masks
Sardinia is renowned not only for its Nuraghi, Tombe dei Giganti (Giants’ Tombs) and so on, but also because of its Holy Wells. Compared with other several European and Middle Eastern lands, Sardinia seems to be characterized by Holy Wells and Sacred Springs.
Actually, thanks to anthropological and archaeological researches, is widely known that “Water-Culture” (and so a “water- sacredness” ) belongs to Europe as a whole, including Sardinia and the Near East. In 1365, a Jewish family named “Maimone” arrived in Cagliari, and there are also many other family names (Maimonide, for example), all derived from the Hebrew word for “Water” that is: “Maim”.
“Maimòne” means, literally, in Semitic: “Water Temple [Temple of the Waters]”. Indeed, it’s found in various Sardinian carnival characters and, further more, in various place-names , for example “Mamone” (the place where river Tirso rises). What does “Maimòne” mean? “Maimòne” had its origins in a Hebrew word, “maim”, that means “water”. In Akkadian, we find that the word for “water” is “māmū”.
So we finally got onto the subject of Water related to Carnival.
Now, we’re going to talk about the Sardinian word for water, that is: “Abba”. “Abba” derivates from Sumerian words “a’abak “or “a-ab-ba”, both meaning, literally, “sea water”.
We have to carefully interpret this word, because “sea water” is intended as “Primordial Cosmic Water”, the one which gave Life to all Beings. That’s the reason why the Sardinian word “abba” is extremely important, related to sea water rather than fresh water. However, in Sardinia, we also have a word connected to fresh water; the family name “Mu”, for example, is identical to Akkadian “mû”, “water” (fresh water). It’s time to talk about Carnival: so called “Su Carrasegare” in Sardinia, or “Carnevale” in Italy. “Carnival” is described by anthropologists as the “myth of Eternal Return”, recalling the Chaos followed by Order, the Cosmos.
At Carnival, precisely, Death and Resurrection rites are celebrated. Death and Resurrection rites are found across the Mediterranean and also throughout the Middle East. They’re represented by the myths of: Adonis in Syria/Phoenicia , Attis in Phrygia, Dionysus in Greece, Baal in Canaan, Osiris in Egypt, Tammuz in Babylonia, Mascazzu in Sardinia, Arlecchino in Italy.
Carnevale, Carnasciale in Italian, Carrasciale in Sardinian: they all share, more or less, the same meaning. They’re ancient words coming from several Akkadian composite names: “Carresegare” originates from “qarnu(m)+ seḫu”, literally meaning “desacration of the Power”. The italian word “Carnevale” derivates from “qarnu(m) + (w)âru(m)”, the Akkadian for “to go against the Power”.
“Carnasciale”(Italian), “Carrasciale”(Sardinian), comes from qarnu(m) + šalû(m)”: “to flood, to drown the Power”. This idea, concept about “submersion”, “flooding, inundation” of the Power , is useful to introduce the matter of “Sartiglia”, a precious traditional event held at Oristano during Carnival (and to talk about Sardinian carnival traditions, in general).
“Sartiglia” was not literally born, as they say, during the times of the Spanish domination in Sardinia. Sartiglia is a form of Carnival, it’s a “Palio”. “Sartiglia” derivates from the Sumerian words “šar” (circle, ring) + “til “(post, pole). That means, literally: “circle of the pole”, “šartil”. “Kuppu-nīdu-ri” originally meant “the one who makes water pouring out from clouds”.
Therefore, here we can find the true nature of “Su Cumponidori”. Su Cumponidori, before the race, rides horseback, blessing the crowd (spectators), holding (in his hands) a special object called “Pippìa de Máju”. We’re going to translate, to explain this expression: let’s start with the word “Máju”. Pippìa “de Máju” is, literally, the “pippìa” that belongs to “the Ecstatic, the Prophet, the Shaman”: because the Shaman was originally called “Maḫḫu” (Sardinian: Maccu, meaning “fool” nowadays). Thus “Máju” indicates exactly “Su Componidori” in the act, right in that moment, of blessing the crowd like a Shaman. We are returning to the idea of baptism, blessing… they are paleolithic concepts. In fact, “su maccu”( the “fool”), at the beginning, was the one who had the power to mediate, to make a connection between Earth and Sky: he was the Shaman, the mighty who conducted sacredness for the benefit of the people.
“Pippìa” is a repetition: “pī-pīum”, that literally means “opening, source”. For this reason, the meaning of “sa Pippìa de Máju” is: “the opening of the sky-sources achieved by (realized by ,carried out by) the Prophet” – Pippìa de Máju. In Pozzomaggiore (a northern sardinian town in the Province of Sassari) there is also a special “object” similar to the “Pippìa de Máju”: it’s called “Pippìa ‘e Mannaghe”, and it’s carried around in procession in the middle of a drought. “Mannaghe” means, literally: “Rain Hymn-Incantation”. In ancient times, all the incantations, all the spells were performed by singing hymns, odes. Everything related to the Sacred was sung, in ancient times. We’re realizing, now, that “mannaghe” has a very specific meaning, connected to “sa pippìa”.
And it comes back to the importance of “Maimòne” and its role in the Sardinian Carnival. Once again, Maimòne is connected to Water. For example, we find Maimòne as carnival character in a town located in the Province of Nuoro, called Oniferi. In Oniferi, “Maimòne” is a puppet with big goat horns, carried on a donkey’s back. Its face is made up of a Cactus Pear (Opuntia Ficus Indica) pad. It’s not so easy to figure out the reason why the Cactus Pear pad has been chosen to depict the puppet face: most probably because in winter time – so in Carnival time- , Cactus Pear pads are full of water. As we are seeing, Cactus Pear pads are some kind of water tanks, so it’s quite a coincidence that they are used to make a mask named “Maimòne”, in Oniferi.
At Carnival, we also have various kinds of ritual combats. In Barbagia (an area of inner Sardinia), during a ritual combat, there is a man tied to a string, beaten and tortured by another man, his captor; we can find this kind of ritual fighting in Babylonia recalling the struggle of Marduk against Tiamat, that is Cosmos vs. Chaos.
The masks were always there. They may also be full-face masks. There are many different versions of them, specially in Italic tradition. Mircea Eliade, ethnologist and anthropologist , says that the masks are the Deads coming back to life to threaten Cosmos, the Order of the Living .
But if we analyze the origin of the word “Mask” – in Italian is “Maschera”, in Sardinian “Mascara” – we find it originally comes from a Sumerian expression meaning “to address pure, sincere, frank words”. The mask enabled to talk honestly to anyone, even to one’s master.
The Carnival, The Feasts and Rites of Adonis and several kinds of Sardinian ritual breads as the bread of “is Bagadíus” from Siurgus: they share many similarities. The same in regard to the Holy Wells, Sacred Springs, because the matter is, again, Adonis worship and Water worship: a kind of cult, as it turns out, widespread in Europe and in Near East. In some cases, where water was scarce, the cult was necessary to obtain it. In other cases, in areas where water was abundant, people used to praise it the same, because it allowed them to live – water was and is the basis of all life – and moreover it healed them.
About healing waters, in Sardinia we have, for example, an enchanting place called “San Leonardo di Siete Fuentes”: here Templars even built an hospital, as well as a church. They built it right by San Leonardo waters, known as blessed and miraculous waters. “Leunardu” is the other name for the child-devil called “Andrìa”: Andrìa or Leunardu is the same thing, depends on the towns. “Andrìa” indicates November, that is the month with the highest rainfall.
“Le’ûnārtû”, literally means: “the one who dominates water with incantions”, Leunardu. The theme of this matter is recurrent, it keeps returning to “water- sacredness” , to the “watersacredness” that Carnival still holds in all of its characters , or in almost all of them.
essay by Salvatore Dedola, from the documentary “Sardinia Temple of the Waters“