DARK MASKS
Carnivals of Barbagia

 

maschere-nere

Directed by Elisa Mereghetti and Sandra Degiuli

Photography: Marco Mensa

Production: Ethnos – Fonoprint (1994)

Broadcast: RAI3

Finalist, Prima Rassegna del Documentario Italiano,
San Benedetto del Tronto, 1994

XXI Festival del Film Turistico, Milano 1996

Barbagia, at the heart of Sardinia, is a mountainous and harsh territory which has maintained many of the characteristics of archaic societies, on which the whole Sardinian culture is founded. The traditional Barbagian Carnival is still a collective ritual: the misterious dark figures of the “Mamuthones”, covered with black sheep skins, wearing black masks, dance rhythmically in the streets of Mamoiada. Less known are the masks of Samugheo, who wear headdresses with deer and goat horns, and dance around a chosen victim. In the streets of Orotelli the “Thurpos” (the blind) parade, a group of young men with blackened faces. In Ottana the main figures are the oxen and his antagonist, the “Merdules”, wearing a black mask and a dark animal skin. In Ovodda on Ash Wednesday chaos and transgression reign: at night the gigantic puppet of “Don Conte”, half priest and half feudal lord, is burned. According to some scholars the masks of the Barbagian Carnival are connected to rituals once played in honour of ancient Mediterranenan vegetation deities.