Sartiglia

Sartiglia or Sartilla, as it is called by the locals, is an equestrian tournament organized in town of Oristano. It is a town and the province of same name located in the west of Italian island of Sardinia. Oristano has a population of 32,932 (2008) people.

Oristano, Italy
Oristano

The Sartiglia existed in Oristano before the mid 13th century. Nowadays it is held twice a year by the local Gremios or confraternities. On Carnival Sunday it is organized by the Gremio of farmers. The tournament on Mardi Gras (in French "Fat Tuesday") is organized by the Gremio of carpenters. In the past the event included only the nobility. Today it involves the whole community.

Sartiglia
Costumed riders of Sartiglia

The Sartiglia on Carnival Sunday is held under the protection of Saint John the Baptist. And the one on Mardi Gras is protected by Saint Joseph. The Sartiglia is a combination of Pagan rites and Christian traditions. The event has its roots in ancient rites where people used to ask Gods for the abundance of crops. The word Sartiglia comes from Castillan word Sortija. Sortija is derived from Latin Sorticola which is a diminutive of Sors which means fate, fortune and ring.

The main character of the festival is Su Componidori or "King of Sartiglia". He is chosen by the members of Gremio. Everything is done is secrecy. Their choice is announced at the Candlemas.

Su Componidori
Su Componidori or King of Sartiglia

The person chosen must be strong, brave and pure. The purity is proven by the confession and Communion done on the day before the Sartiglia.

Su Componidori is neither man or woman, but a androgynous. Su Coponidori is dressed by local virgin girls called "Sas Massaieddas". They are wearing traditional costumes. They are lead by so called "Sa Massaia Manna".

The dressing is done in "S’Oberaju Majori’s" (the head of the Gremio) house on a sort of altar decorated with wheat and flowers. After dressing Su Componidori is not allowed to touch the ground as purity is needed to compete and win.

When finally ready Su Componidori rides out wearing a black hat, a mantilla, a lace decorated shirt, a vest and a leather belt. Su Componidori is kind of godlike creature that arrived among mortals to bring good luck and beat the evil spirits.

Su Componidori is given the little doll of May or "Sa Pippia 'e maiu". It is made of periwinkle flowers wrapped with green cloth. On top of it some violets are attached. They symbolize fertility and spring.

Su Componidori rides along the track with his deputies - vice "Capi Corsa", "Su Segundu and Su Terzu Cumpoi".

The procession then arrives at the track called "Sa Xea Manna" where there is a star suspended. This tin star with the hole in its centre is one of key elements of the Sartiglia. The star is hanging from a ribbon strung across the track.

The "Su Cumpoidori" has to pass three times under the star. He crosses his sword with "Su Segundu". The tune performed with a trumpet and drums signals the start of the event.

Su Cumpoidori is the first who competes. His two vice "Capi Corsa" and numerous other riders follow.

Sartiglia
Masked rider competing

While riding at full speed across the track, the masked rider has to put his sword through the hole in star and take it away. It is important to make as many scores as possible. After each score the audience shouts "Su Cumpoidori". Everyone is happy. Locals believe that more stars collected means more wealth in the year for farmers or carpenters.

Next in the Sartiglia Su Cumpoidori and his two vice "Capi Corsa" try to take the star with carved wooden stick or "Su Stoccu".

After that there is one more duty for the Su Cumpoidori to perform. It is called "Sa Remada". Su Cumpoidori gallops along the track lying on his back. This is the end of Sartiglia.

La Pariglia
La Pariglia or "The Pyramid"

The event following is called La Pariglia or "The Pyramid". It is held on another sand covered track in Oristano. It includes male and female riders wearing masks who perform all sorts of stunts. It is very spectacular. It ends at sunset.