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19-1-2021, 00:01 UTC
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Mamuthones - traditional masks from Sardinia in Prague
The mamuthones and issohadores masks can be interpreted in many ways. Their performance may celebrate the victory of Barbagia shepherds (issohadores) against the Saracen invaders, imprisoned and led in procession (mamuthones). It may also be considered a 'totemic rite of the subjection of the ox', or a ritual procession carried out by Nuragic people to honour some agricultural or pastoral god. Mamuthones are, therefore, a herd of oxen tamed by the issohadores, their herdsmen, or the mamuthones are ox-men, shepherds who identify themselves with the animals by covering their faces with a mask with their features, almost worshipping such a useful animal.
Mamuthones
Mamuthones hide behind their mask, called sa bisera. Sa bisera is black, made of wood, with a prominent nose, chin and cheek-bones and two holes for the eyes and mouth. The head is covered with a brown handkerchief tied beneath the chin. Sa bisera, dramatic and grotesque, with no anthropomorphic features, represents silence and impassibility. Mamuthones wear sa garriga, a noisy tangle of cow-bells (su ferru), on top of black sheep skins which hide the usual brown velvet suit; sa garriga weighs 30 kg and its noise counterbalances the silence of the faces. On their chest, a group of bells, held together by leather straps.
Issohadores
Issohadores wear a red cloth jacket, girded by a belt with brass and bronze studs. They wear white cloth pants, a multi-coloured small fringed shawl and a berritta (cap) held by a handkerchief tied over their face. Issohadores carry sa soha, a rush rope, in their hand.
Mamuthones usually move in groups of 12; they move forward in couples and they jump heavily, ringing their bells contemporaneously. It is a dancing procession, a rythmical gait of single leaps which regularly end with a triplication of the leap itself. The repetitive sounds and the procession are not distracted by the rapid movements of the issohadores, usually not more than 8. S'issohadore vaults sa soha, and throws it towards the crowd: getting tangled in the rope is considered to be auspicious.
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