Today this sector is represented almost exclusively by basket-making, although a few craftsmen producing mats and fencing can still be found. This activity was traditionally carried out as a family concern mainly for the purpose of creating a series of containers, each of which differing in shape and size, according to its intended use.
The typical baskets can be divided into two groups: the first, plain and unadorned, were woven by the men (mainly peasants and shepherds) and used during harvesting and for fishing; the second type, woven mainly by the women, were intended for household use. The latter were often decorated as the Sardinian women wished not only to create an article which would be used, but also to provide a touch of colour and gaiety to their household.
Today these recipients are no longer used for their original purposes but are created, almost exclusively, for use as ornaments; they have therefore been adapted to the requirements of a modern household and are particularly sought after on the market.
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES
The raw materials used in this craft vary from place to place, according to the availability of material gathered from the surrounding countryside or ponds: the main materials used are rushes, dwarf palms, asphodel, reeds, willow, myrtle, lentisk, straw and hay. In Castelsardo raffia, rushes and asphodel are commonly used; in Tinnura, Flussio, Montresta and Ollolai, asphodel; in San Vero Milis and Ottana, rushes and other types of pond grasses; in Sinnai straw and rushes.
The typical basket woven from wicker obtained from willow trees, olive trees, lentisk and reeds, is present throughout the entire island. These baskets are generally equipped with handles and are used for numerous purposes.
Various types of techniques ( spiral style, trellis, etc) are used in the creating of the baskets.
A predominance of geometric shapes (chess board, concentric circles, array of triangles) can be observed, although examples depicting the flora and fauna (birds, peacocks, horses) can also be found.
The decoration may either be created as weaving of the basket proceeds or may be added at a later date; the adornments are obtained using coloured strips of a different colour to the base: black or coloured in Castelsardo and San Vero Milis and using red and black ribbons in Sinnai.
Traditionally the colours were limited to the natural hues of the raw material, with the exception of articles produced in the Campidano area; the latter differing for the addition of a circle of brightly coloured cloth or brocade on the bottom of the basket. The use of a larger range of colours was introduced in the 1950ís, in order to meet the requirements of modern tastes.
BASKET WEAVING IN SINNAI
The art of basket weaving in Sinnai is even older than that of Castelsardo, which is possibly the better renowned. The former was referred to in the eighteenth century by Alberto Della Marmora, who likened the baskets produced in Sinnai to those found in the Egyptian tombs, once again underlining, in spite of their modest decorations, the highly functional nature of these articles.
In Sinnai and in the entire Campidano area, the baskets were mainly used for purposes linked to the domestic production of bread and flour, as farming was the main economic activity carried out in the area.
The raw materials employed were rushes and straw gathered subsequent to the harvesting of the wheat. The most common form is that of an upside-down bell.
The traditional art was performed by winding the straw in a spiral fashion around a small bundle of rushes or straw and subsequently sewing together the plait thus obtained. A typical decoration used in this villages dictates the application of a scarlet cloth.
With an extraordinary respect for tradition, the Sinnai women also use natural coloured straw to weave the rim of the basket, thereby creating an elegant decoration which is afforded only by a delicate changing of the light.