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Objects of furnishing






In the past, the remarkable simplicity of an agro-pastoral society such as that observed in Sardinia, was often reflected in the home furnishings which were limited to a few essential pieces: a bed, a cot, chairs and stools, a table and a dresser to contain all pots and pans used from day to day. The latter were all extremely modest pieces of furniture, in keeping with the traditionally humble surroundings. The sole exception to the above was represented by the intricately carved wooden chest which invariably occupied a prime position in the household and was used to store the brideís trousseau and the household riches.


Further to the furniture, also articles intended for everyday use were made, such as spoons, cutting boards, bread casts, toys, vases, dishes, Sardinian briar-wood pipes and a large array of wooden articles, often particularly elegant and refined, which are used today as ornaments.

Many villages in the Barbagia region (Aritzo, Desulo, Tonara, Nuoro, Ottana, Isili, Orani) still continue to reproduce the traditional symbolic motifs. However, traditional carved furniture and other objects have been produced for centuries also in Santulussurgiu, BuddusÚ, Sassari, Cagliari and Quartu SantíElena and craftsmen who continue to apply the traditional methods can still be found today in many Sardinian villages.


Other typical artistic objects are represented by the heavy traditional carnival masks worn by the "Mamuthones" in Mamoiada and by the "Merules" in Ottana; these masks evoke an ancient rite performed in order to banish the evil spirits.



The main types of wood used are chestnut, which is abundant among the Barbagia woods, walnut and juniper. The technique applied is carving.



The decorations are generally simple and of a linear nature with either abstract geometrical motifs or nature scenes (flowers and fauna).



Traditionally the wood maintained its natural colour although at times the decorations were painted using vegetable colourings.



The wooden chest was always provided with an upward-opening lid and was raised from the floor by means of brackets. The chest was used to store numerous items: linens, clothes, blankets, valuable objects and other family riches.


Two types of chest exist: the "barbaricina" style from Aritzo and the elongated lower style from Santulussurgiu; in the latter, the presence of particular features at its base and the feet shaped as a lionís paw exhibits an evident influence by continental styles.


Only the centre panel is decorated with geometric and floral motifs and often enriched by a sun, an hour-glass or stylised birds; all other panels are completely smooth. Originally the wood was left untreated or was painted red using lambís blood or pale green and turquoise using vegetable colours. In more recent times, it has become customary to paint these chests black in order to conceal the blackened trails left by smoke and to render them more appealing.


A few particularly rich and sophisticated examples of wooden chests can be found with beautifully stylised motifs (especially the geometric and floral motifs which are greatly appreciated and excellently performed), intricate carvings and artful colouring.



In the Campidano area, low straw-bottomed chairs were produced using light-coloured wood decorated with pomegranate flowers (red and green); this type of chair is still produced today in Assemini and is both elegant and functional.


In the mountain villages, chairs and high-chairs bore the same decorations as the wooden chest; low stools made from "ferula" trunks were also used.


The chairs with a carved and engraved back, lacquered in gold and red, green or blue, are of Catalan origin.



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