TITLE: Sardinian Boe
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Ottana, Sardinia
ETHNICITY: Italian (Sardinian)
DESCRIPTION: Boe (Ox) Mask
MAKER: Mario Cossu (Ottana, 1941- )
CEREMONY: Carnival; Festa di Sant’Antonio Abate
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint, leather cords

During the Festival of Sant’Antonio Abate, patron saint of the city of Ottana, Sardinia, and on Carnival as well, the Ottanese does as sos boes and sos merdules, two traditional masked characters.  In the Festival of Sant’Antonio, they appear at night before a raging bonfire (s’ogulone) to perform religious duties and begin the Carnival celebration, during which they will parade and enact an ancient drama.  The boes wear furry white sheep skins and ox masks like this one, along with very heavy cowbells (sonazzos) on a leather harness.  The merdules wear deformed white or black masks, representing the fatigue of the peasant oxherder, and a stick or rope whip. During the ceremony, the merdules will attempt to herd the boes, who resist and throw themselves on the ground until forced up again.  Eventually, a third character appears as a witch-like woman (sa filonzana) spinning raw wool, possibly representing the Greek Fate Clotho, who spun the thread of human life and decided where to cut it.

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TITLE: Sardinian Mamuthone
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Mamoiada, Sardinia
ETHNICITY: Italian (Sardinian)
DESCRIPTION: Mamuthone
MAKER: Ruggero Mameli (Mamoiada, 1954- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; leather straps; metal hardware

The people of Sardinia celebrate Carnival with a unique tradition whose origin is the subject of much debate. Most participants in the Carnival parade in the region of Mamoiada wear costumes and masks of one of two characters: the Issohadore and Mamuthone. The Issohadores dress in a bright military costume and wear a white mask. Soha in Sardinian means “lasso,” which is what the Issohadores carry to encircle and abduct young women in the crowd while they guard the troop of black-masked Mamuthones. Some hypothesize that the Issohadore represents the Spanish conqueror of Sardinia in 1717, and the Mamuthones represent the oppressed Sardinian peasantry. Although the Carnival tradition seems to be much older, it may have been shaped by these historical events.

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TITLE: Sardinian Issohadore
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Mamoiada, Sardinia
ETHNICITY: Italian (Sardinian)
DESCRIPTION: Issohadore
MAKER: Ruggero Mameli (Mamoiada, 1954- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; leather straps; metal hardware

The people of Sardinia celebrate Carnival with a unique tradition whose origin is the subject of much debate. Most participants in the Carnival parade in the region of Mamoiada wear costumes and masks of one of two characters: the Issohadore and Mamuthone. The Issohadores dress in a bright military costume and wear a white mask. Soha in Sardinian means “lasso,” which is what the Issohadores carry to encircle and abduct young women in the crowd while they guard the troop of black-masked Mamuthones. Some hypothesize that the Issohadore represents the Spanish conqueror of Sardinia in 1717, and the Mamuthones represent the oppressed Sardinian peasantry. Although the Carnival tradition seems to be much older, it may have been shaped by these historical events.

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