The ancient Oristano Carnival ride

Foto di C. Verazza

On 7th and 9th February will be held in Oristano sa Sartiglia. This celebration of Spanish origin, is a reckless ride in which participants, on horses running at full speed, have to center the star suspended in midair and arranged along the tortuous path of a street in the city center.

But sa Sartiglia is much more than this: it is a show of particular charm in the middle between the Christian religion and the pagan magic. The star of the festival is the Componidori, a skilled rider chosen by the Guilds (associations of arts and crafts), to impersonate a kind of demigod to which depends the crop: if he or she manages to run the star through, the land will bear fruits, if not we will have to wait a lean year.

Everything in this celebration has the flavor of enchantment: it begins with the clothing ritual of the demigod.

In the hall of the Guilds, over a wooden platform, the Componidori is dressed by a group of women, "is massaieddas" (in the tradition they had to be virgins), directed by "sa massaia manna". The rider will not have to make the slightest gesture to help the women in this task and he should never touch the ground until the Sartiglia is completed.

Around the face of the rider is placed a white cloth and, falling on the shoulders, a lace veil; the mask, surmounted by a top hat, is then fixed to the chin by a green satin ribbon.

The mask of the Componidori is particularly impressive, having no expression, perhaps to suggest, symbolically, all.
In the room they make the horse enter and it is delivered to the rider, together with sa Pippia 'e Maju (the girl of May), a bouquet of violets and periwinkles with which the Componidori will bless the crowd attending the ride with signs of the cross.

Photo by C. Verazza

The show, then, opens with the drummers, followed by the Componidori accompanied, on the right, by an assistant, and left, by an adjutant.

They cross the swords and the Componidori runs first, trying to tuck the star. It is always the one who decides the order of the riders who will compete in this enterprise and the last to run to using a rapier.

The ride closes with one last daring feat of the Componidori: the remada, a difficult passage along the path lying on the horse's back.

Next, take place the Pairs, wild ride horses and riders who perform together in extraordinary stunts.

Only at the end, the Componidori can get off the horse in the hall of the Guilds, helped by the massaieddas and he or she will tell the great emotions experienced during the ride.

01 January 2016

Andrea Concas
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