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Tapestries

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Weaving of textiles

Throughout the centuries, the weaving of textiles has represented a considerable part of the wealth of activities performed by Sardinian families: with every likelihood the majority of houses possessed a loom for the production of a series of articles for both everyday use and to be used as barter.

 

The art of textile weaving, in its most traditional and significant forms, is still practised in approximately forty Sardinian villages. Each village has its own peculiar traditions as to techniques used and decorations applied.

 

The cloth resembles a painter’s canvas on which the artist expresses his creativity and fantasy. The development of modern implements and the standardisation of production methods has rendered these fabrics, which bear witness to the local traditions, even more precious. Today, several small hinterland communities have gained notoriety thanks to the success obtained, both in Italy and abroad, by the typical carpets and tapestries which are skilfully created by the local weavers.

 

Typical Articles

The typical traditional woven articles include: carpets, tapestries, furniture mats and saddle bags.

 

The main purpose of woven articles was originally to provide coverings for the austere wooden chest used to contain the bride’s trousseau and other household riches. This original use justifies the form, generally being represented by a section depicting geometric figures and designs with two lateral flaps which were intended as an ornate detail. Initially therefore a chest covering, subsequently covers, tapestries and carpets were produced. Additionally, saddle bags (worn by all the men either over their shoulder or on the animal’s back) and festival trappings for the horses and oxen, were created.

 

Today, a variety of other articles for household use are woven: curtains, fabrics, cushions and tablecloths; the decorations applied are characteristic of the slow, modern evolution of the art, although they continue to testify the on-going inspiration provided by the traditional figurative elements. Thus, the age-old tradition is maintained in a modernised atmosphere.

 

Decorative Elements

The remarkable variety of decorative elements depicts not only details of the everyday country life but also illustrates a series of cultural influences provided by the different civilisations present in Sardinia during the numerous dominations of the island and by the spreading of knowledge throughout the Mediterranean basin.

 

The range of decorations featured is characterised by motifs which can be observed all over the island. It has indeed been established that more than 100 recurring motifs and symbols are represented in the popular Sardinian art of textile weaving: more than 100 symbolic motifs and 20 different "mustras" (central decorative elements), each of which bears a particular name and is characterised by a particular history, evocative capacity and underlying ‘magical’ significance. Moreover, the finished articles in all their originality, are rendered even more unique through the application of the ornate decorations and "mustras" .

 

The different styles applied in the decoration of articles which co-exist in the various areas, can be subdivided into four main groups:

 

the first group represents the geometric figures;

 

the second illustrates floral motifs: imaginatively styled flowers are enclosed, in the absence of rigid schematic forms, in hexagonal or octagonal figures. The stylised flowers at the centre of the design are cunningly blended into the surrounding figures. Vases of flowers are generally depicted as seven stems bearing flowers and buds.

 

Possibly the most realistically represented theme is that of the vines, in spite of the difficulty of expressing the suppleness of the shoots. A frequently applied motif depicts the rare and precious branches of coral. Other common motifs include plums, pomegranates, acorns, grapes, olive and pine trees, etc;

 

the third group is made up of illustrations from the universe of animals (lambs, deer, horses, cocks, peacocks, etc., all of which are typical of the Byzantine tradition, or doves belonging to the Christian tradition) and man (bride and groom on horseback, the knight with his sword and the damsel with the so-called bishops, wise men and winged cherubs);

 

lastly, the fourth group is characterised by heraldic and emblematic symbols such as the two-headed eagle, towers, castles, churches, candle-bearers, fountains, lions, griffons, imaginary mythological figures and astrological details (sun, moon, stars). Magic symbols are frequently used.

 

Materials and Techniques

These are somewhat limited. Three types of loom are used:

Telaio

horizontal (the most commonly used);

oblique;

 

vertical (used in only a few villages).

 

The materials used are:

 

wool;

cotton;

linen;

silk (used only occasionally).

 

 

The techniques used are:

 

The smooth or "a stuoia" weaving (the oldest and least elaborate method): a vertical loom is used and the cloth is woven in a smooth uniform fashion. The decorative motifs are represented by the alternating of the coloured yarns used; the finished product is extremely compact and hard-wearing;

 

The ‘grain’ or "a pibiones" technique (particularly frequent in the central and eastern areas of the island): this method is performed by twisting the yarn around a needle which is arranged in a horizontal position on the loom; the needle is then pulled away, thereby creating a raised effect (grains). These grains are fastened by the weft threads and are fixed in position by one or more strokes of the beater;

 

The stitched or "a punt’e agu" technique: this is performed on a horizontal loom in order to apply decorations to the fabric by means of a sort of close-knit embroidery which is woven at the same time as the underlying cloth and subsequently beaten to arrange it on the weft;

 

The weft-style or "a un’in dente" technique: the bottom warp is completely covered by the weft threads, at the same time taking in one or more warp threads, according to the type of decoration to be created;

 

The "bow or knot" technique: this is performed on an oblique loom by alternating a series of horizontal knots along the warp; the knots are firmly fixed to one or more of the threads and are subsequently tied.

 

The Colours

Traditionally the colours used were obtained from the naturally-occurring vegetable and animal hues and coloured soils. Today, the use of modern technologies has widened the chromatic range available and guarantees long-term durability. Generally speaking however, the dyes used tend to reflect the same natural shades as those originally created by the weavers themselves.

 

I.S.O.L.A.  Via Bacaredda, 184 Cagliari - Tel. 070/404791  Email: sardegna@isolartigianato.it Torna a inizio pagina