martedì 11 novembre 2014

Marzo 1928: i tappeti tradizionali e un antropologo naturalista

Da: Canning Suffern, Primitive Sardinian Art, Man, 1928, 28: 41-44, Published by: The Royal Anthropological Institute of  Great Britain and Ireland


by C. Suffern

In the spring of 1924 I was traveling in Sardinia and I noticed a type of carving and of embroidery which appeared to me to be peculiar to the Island. I first saw it in the fine collection in the Pinacotheca of the Museo Nazionale at Cagliari. I found it repeatedly in varius country districts throughout the Island, notably in a small collection at Lanusei. I determined to buy a rug, if possible, and so on my last visit to Cagliari I tried to find examples in the shops. There were a few; but they were all so obviously made for the purpose of being sold as curios at high prices that they did not appeal to me so much as the genuine article made for actual use. Luckily, however, on my last day some peasant women came to the hotel to sell various bits of peasant work, such as rugs, corsages and kerchiefs beautifully embroidered, and I selected a rug which was alleged to be over a hundred years old and had certainly had a lot of wear. 
The rug measures 80 inches by 26 inches and is a piece of coarse canvas bound round the edges with some green woven material. there is a dark blue rosette of ribbon attached to each corner and a green rosette half way along each end, ad though for the purpose of hanging the rug on the wall. The central part of the rug measures 68 inches by 24 inches and is occupied by a florar design of black “roses” in diagonal rows worked in very coarse wool. In the spaces thus left are worked in soft wool smaller cruciform flowers in various brilliant colours (Fig. 3). Down the long sides of the rug are borders only 1 inch wide, bearing flowers, each flower being worked in one colour; but no two successive flowers are of the same colour, although the two opposite borders match each other in the order of colours used. These borders are marked off from the centre by a narrow green line (Fig. 4), while a zig-zag line of blue and orange (Fig. 5)separates the centre from a wide border at each end of the rug. These latter borders are 6 inches wide and it is to them that I would particularly draw attention. The highly conventional design of a wonderful tree accompanied by birds is shown in Fig. 1. Each such group is separated from its neighbours by a design of two peculiar floral subjects (Fig. 2). I have omitted from the drawings a zig-zag black line representing the earth, upon which stand the trees and the larger birds. 
This design is a typical Sardinian design; but, unfortunately, it does not contain the commonest object of Sardinian embroidery and carving - a peculiar and highly conventional fore-half of a stag. That this theriomorphic design is a very ancient one is shown by the conventional form and by the fact that doves and stags are prominently represented in the bronze votive statuettes of the Sardinian Bronze Age. I believe the smaller birds on the rug are doves, equivalent to the doves of Hathor in Egypt, Rhea in Crete, Aphrodite in Greece, and Venus in Italy. The larger birds are more like peacocks, comparable to the peacocks of Juno.
Although recent art in Sardinia seems to confine its attentions mainly to doves and half-stags, the Bronze Age statuettes have a wider zoological range, including, additionally, bulls and cows, cocks, boars, moufflons, sheep, goats and even apes or monkeys, the last being presumably imported or imitated from an import. I think that the reason why none of these additional animals has persisted into recent art in Sardinia is that wild boars, moufflons, goats and apes are merely due to a development of the naturalistic trend of Bronze Age art and, not being intimately connected with religious myth, have no reason for persisting, whereas doves, cocks, stags, bulls and cows are intimately connected with pagan religion. Of the latter animals, doves and cocks have persisted because they were assimilated as symbols by the Christian religion, which, on the other hand, has almost no room for symbols connected with bull-worship. Perhaps stags have also persisted (apart form ecclesiastical art, in which I have not noticed it) on account of their very close association with doves as pets or types of primitive female goddess. Statuettes of a nude female deity have been found in sardinia, likewise a Bronze Age "madonna" and "bambino" (v. Fig. 25 in Taramelli's "Guida del Museo Nazionale di Cagliari").
The sheep or lamb has also been assimilated into Christianity and consequently does not appear in specimens of profane art.
Signs of bull-worship are very prominent in the relics of the Sardinian Bronze Age and perhaps the necessity of representing bulls and cows in that worship and stags and doves in the worship of the goddess led the artist further on in naturalistic art to the representation of the other animals already mentioned. These two worships were apparently combined in Sardinia. There is a statuette of a bull with a dove perched between his horns, parallel to another statuette of a bull with a cock perched similarly. There is also a remarkable collecion of a large number of statuettes of hermaphrodites, which seem to point to a combined worship of male and female deities. This combination may perhaps persist in much disguised form in the sacred tree and the dove of the rug

From Santa  Cristina and Paulilatino come two Bronze-Age statuettes representing votive ships or arks bearing doves along the sides, while one from Mandas represents an ark bearing a sacred tree or pillar surmounted by a dove. This is not the place to discuss the meaning of the ark in mythology, except to point out that it is a female symbol and is closely associated with doves (cf. dove of Noah, dove of the Argonauts, etc.). There is also a model of a Bronze Age temple surmounted by a dove. 

Stags occupy an equally preminent position in Bronze Age art in Sardinia. Examples include a votive sword surmounted by a stag, statuettes of stags, and (most important of all) a votive sword surmounted by a statuette of a warrior standing upon the concavity of a crescent (like the dove and the cock between the bull's horns) formed by two half-stags joined back to back (v. Fig. 35 in Taramelli's "Guida"). This last object belongs to a late time in the Bornze Age and accordingly the stags are very conventional but still easily recognizable. Here appears to be the Bronze Age precursor of the half-stag of recent Sardinian carving and embroidery. This treatment of the stag is parallel to the treatment of the bull in the Sardinian Bronze Age. Thus the bull bearing a cock between his horns is only a half -bull on a votive ark, while other half-bulls adorn lamps shaped like arks. A similar half-bull is to be seen on a coin shown by Perrot and Chipiez ("Hist. of Art in Phrygia, Lydia, Caria and Lycia," p. 353), while a half-bull and a half-lion attached back to back (like the two Sardinian half-stags) are to be seen on a Lydian coin (Perrot and Chpiez, Fig. 189). The Bronze Age in Sardinia lasted from about 2000 B.C. to about 300 B.C.. The earliest date of Lydian coinage is perhaps about 700 B.C.; but possibly the half-bull type of artistic representation is of much greater antiquity and may point to a connection between Sardinia and Lydia, which connection is a tradition and is supported by many other arguments. 
Sardinian bull-worship, the sacred double-axe, nuraghic architecture, plumed headgear, cosumes and the peculiar type of naturalistic art point towards Minoan Crete. Stone statuettes found at Anghelu Ruju resemble those of Crete and other Aegean isles. Eneolithic vases from the same site have analogies with those of Crete. Copper slabs of the Bronze Age from Serra Ilizi bear letters of the Aegean alphabet. But the problem is not so simple. The nearest resemblances to the Sardinian statuettes do not come from Crete but from Cyprus and Rhodes, whiel others come from Etruria and Spain. 

Crete is not the only land where theriomorphic artistic representations held sway and might possibly have influenced Sardinian art. Maltese examples can at once be dimissed as totally unlike Sardinian. There is, however, a faint resemblance to certain primitive Sicilian designs. For instance, the "peacock" of the rug shows a slight family likeness to one shown on p. 229 of Bisland's and Hoyt's "Seekers in Sicily". The following figure is a copy of it. 

The chief points of resemblance are the crest, the prominent sternum, the thick legs and clumsy feet, the split tail and the body-markins. the crucifrom arrangement of blank marmings on the Sicilian peacock are to be compared with those of the Sardinian tree. (The cross is pre-Christian and only adopted by the Christian religion from paganism). Another design in the same book (p. 192) shows a man with an “estinguisher” or £mushroom” hat like that in fig. 42 of Taramelli’s “Guida”. The Sicilian bears in his left hand what appears to be a model of a round haut, roofed with boughsm comaprable to the modern Sardinian shepherds’ booths, which are probably a relic of the Bronze Age. 

I know of nothing in Egyptian or in Mesopotamian art resembling these figures. Thessalian figures and theriomorphic designs are quite different (v. Childe, man, 1923, 2, and Journ. R.A.I., 1923, pp. 263-288). On the other hand, affinities may be traced between the art of Sardinia and that of those parts of the western Balkans recently known as Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Both areas are associated with prehistoric circular huts. Montenegrin embroidery patterns (Durham, Man, 1923, No. 40) show the rectangular pattern enclosing blank crosses and checkers as in Sardinian sacred tree and representing in a very convential form naturalistic objects such as fruits, flowers and a scorpion-fly. In Montenegro the stitch used is the primitive cross-stitch, the first stitch which is learnt in England by a child who is learning to work patterns for the first time, the stitch of the old English samplers. The Sardinians use a straight embroidery stitch, not a cross-stitch. The design on the rug, however, is not a cuvilinear one but is rectangular, betraying its descent from a cross-stitch pattern. Even the curvilinear, i.e., later, Albanian designs include birds (? doves) and foliage on a bridal cloak and the return of the dove to the ark. In the same district have been found "little doves, pierced to wear as amulets" (v. Durham, Man, 1923, 40). It has also been suggested (v. Durham, Man, 1923, 21) that the name of Dardania is derived from dardhe meaning a pear. A list of pear place-names is given and the pear is said to be a traditional embroidery pattern. Figs. 2 and 4, illustrating the present article, may conceivably be interpreted as pears, the lower part of Fig. 2 representing the blossom and the upper part the fruit. One might also point to a suspicious resemblance between the words dardhe and Sard, which, however, I do not think are connected. 
C. Suffern

Dello stesso autore i dattiloscritti:  'Sardinia the surprising' e 'The Nuraghi of Sardinia' (ndr).

Ricordiamo che a Samugheo si trova il  "Museo Unico Regionale dell'Arte Tessile Sarda"