Masks in Sardinia

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      > La Sartiglia     by Anna Sacripanti

    «at Oristano, one of Europe's last ring jousting competitions»

The Sartiglia which takes place in Oristano is Sardinia’s last ring jousting competition and one of the few to survive in ancient Europe. The name of the Oristano equestrian tournament is Catalan. In Barcelona, the Sartilla is both ring and ring jousting at one and the same time.
The air of Spain infuses the Oristano carnival from the name given to the Lord of the Tournament, the “Componidori” (from the Spanish Componedor) to the costumes worn by the riders, the sword, and the wooden pole (the “Stoccu” from the Spanish Estoque) used by the riders to pick up the star shaped ring.
The contest takes piace on the last Sunday of carnival and Shrove Tuesday (February 9th and 11th, 1997) in the Ruga di Santa Maria (Strada di Santa Maria, now Via Duomo), between the ancient palace of the kings of Arborea (Piazza Manno), the Cattedrale della Vergine Assunta (where the star hangs suspended on a ribbon) and the Gothic church di San Francesco, where it has been held for centuries.

The “Componidori” is dressed by young girls overseen by an older woman according to an age-old ritual. He wears a deerskin tunic over a linen shirt tied with colored bows. On his head is a bride’s veil and a black top hat, his face is hidden by an enigmatic mask. Behind the Lord of the Tournament, the riders parade amidst drum rolls and trumpet blasts.
On the cry of “Su Componidori”, he sets off with his sword pointed towards the star. A cry of joy greets a victory, a disappointed murmur marks a missed target. Then it is the turn of the second and of the other riders who are handed the sword by the Compouidori.
Finally the Lord of the Tournament grips the shaft for a new descent, followed by bis second.
The last race known as the “Sa Remada” is his and bis alone. Lying on the back of a horse set off at a mad gallop, “Su Componidori” clutching a sceptre of periwinkle and violets (known as “Sa Pippia de Maiu”) blesses the crowds. The Sartiglia is over.
The event has taken place for more than four and a half centuries. It was started by Canon Giovanni Dessi, perhaps in 1543. Since then, two guilds (“gremi”) of farmers and carpenters have organized respectively the tournaments on Sunday and Tuesday.


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