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Vivere la campagna


march 2009 -


Handicraft work in Sardinia is closely linked to all those activities which at one time marked the rhythm of day-to-day life. The objects commonly used in times gone by are today considered true works of art, to be set proud/y amongst the other precious items which decorate our homes. Here are some of the most original and outstanding types of handicrafts made in the territory of the Medio Campidano Province.
Pottery - Since ancient times clay has been used to produce vases, jars, oil lamps and votive statues. Today, a number of artists work this humble material, transforming it into unique objects with ancient fascination.
Goldsmithing - The unmistakable glitter of gold and silver marks another type of handicraft production typical of this territory. Buttons, brooches, wedding rings and many other precious items in filigree owe their beauty and originality to the delicate stylishness of this type of work.
Hand-made knives - S'arresoja (the knife), the ancient faithful companion of long days passed in solitude caring for the flocks and working in the fields was one of the most common tools used by shepherds and farmers.
Today the skilled hands of expert knife-makers have transformed these humble tools into precious collector's items.
Weaving and embroidery - Tradition, manual skills, aesthetic taste are the three basic elements
found in the textile products of the Medio Campidano, while intricate embroidery in unmatchable shapes and colours go to make the costumes of the Province's various towns and villages even more precious.
Other hand•crafted items - This rapid overview of the territory's typical products closes with other unique handicraft traditions: in particular basket weaving. sculpture, artistic items in copper and silver, and the whittling of reeds to produce the musical woodwind instrument which has become the symbol of Sardinia, is launeddas.

The vital role played by the knife in the lives of farmers and shepherds is shown by the variety of types produced which collectors can seek out in the many knife-makers’ workshops in the Province. Production is still based on a series of tried and tested steps including choice of materials, the carving of the horn handles and the forging and sharpening of the steel blades.
Each knife is one-of-a-kind, with its own identity and its own history linked to the fancy of its creator or to particular events. Curious is the origin of the blunt tip of sa guspinesa (bottom right), or miner’s knife, deriving from on edict, later a law passed by the Giolitti Government in 1908; it forbade the use of pointed knives in an attempt to eradicate the fierce scuffles which often broke out among the miners, exasperated by the inhuman conditions of life stemming from their harsh work.
Arbus, home to the s’arburesa a wide-bladed knife, has dedicated to this tool its very own museum, where visitors con admire ancient arte facts and unexpected rarities: one prime example is the heaviest knife in the world (‘listed in the 200 - Guiness Book of Records), weighing no less than 295 kg for a length of 4.85 m!

Several centuries ago in Sardinia the production of terracotta or pottery items was limited to daily use objects such as jars and containers for storing various types of food. water jugs and cooking pots.
The artefacts with the more elaborate decorations or unusual shapes. mainly used for ritual purposes. were based on the models imported by the peoples that at the time traded along the Mediterranean coasts. Today, this valued type of handicraft still produces items linked to tradition, but the research and outstanding creative gifts of the potters working in the Province have enriched production with very stylish and original artwork. Watching the various phases of shaping the ball of soft clay is something truly unexpected and fascinating: the gliding movements of the artist’s hands, arms and body as he or she shapes the clay on the potter’s wheel, the detailed decorations made with the simplest of tools on the still-damp surface of the object. the magical transformation which takes place in the dark depths of the kiln during firing, all bear witness to the great skill which gives birth to the elegance. beauty and originality of the objects created by our potters.

Besides the weaving of carpets, tapestries and runners for carved chests, the Medio Campidano is also famous for the fine embroidery decorating typical local costumes: shawls, handkerchiefs and bodices made even more elegant by the glimmer of the silk, cotton and golden threads chosen by the embroideresses to decorate their creations.
In the wide range of hand-crafted items offered by the Province. we cannot fail to mention the splendid filigree jewels.
This technique, requiring great skill, took root on the Island during the Renaissance and still today, in most small workshops it is performed exclusively by hand, shaping and assembling with minute welding the tiny elements crafted from gold or silver wire, usually less than half a millimetre thick! Traditional items include the Sardinian wedding rings, buttons, brooches, pins, earrings and pendants, often embellished by the addition of seed pearls, coral, cameos and precious stones.

Some artisans of the Medio Campidano express their artistic talent also by carving stone. The images on this and the previous page show some examples of just how the sculptor has managed to extract from simple trachyte blocks a rare blend of creative fancy tradition and culture.
Very probably, one of the most ancient forms of handicraft work associated with these areas is the fashioning of is launeddas, a wind instrument whose archaic melodies conjure up the fascinating post of this unique Island.
Is launeddas is a woodwind instrument certainly in use in Nuraghic times, as is demonstrated by a well-known bronze figurine; similar instruments were common in Celtic, Middle Eastern and North African cultures. It consists of three reeds of varying length and thickness: u basciu or tumbu (without apertures, producing the tonic note). sa mancosa manna (it accompanies the melody and is linked to su tumbu with string dipped in pitch, and sa mancosedda (which produces the melody and is free). Is launeddas is played using the difficult technique of ‘circular breathing” and the melody is generated by the vibrations of the tongues (cabizzinas,) shaped directly in each reed. The tuning technique is of great interest: it involves the placing of small quantities of beeswax over each tongue. Construction techniques are the jealously guarded secrets of the master musicians: usually, only as old age creeps on, do they hand on their knowledge to the few youngsters who have demonstrated the willingness and aptitude to learn the difficult skills needed to play this instrument with its haunting. harmonious melodies.

Other fields in which our artisans demonstrate their artistic and manual skills ore basket making, where skilled weaving of vegetable fibres produces containers of all shapes and sizes, and precious works in embossed silver and copper. Some true aficionados, after painstaking research and accurate reproductions, have managed to bring bock to life the objects which accompanied the early years of entire generations — the toys. Up to a few decodes ago, the children, at times helped by their parents, had to make their own playthings: giving free rein to their fantasy they transformed nut shells, reeds, long sticks and other materials into wonderful leisure-time objects — a pastime helping their growth and development.