Power to the Women
Practiced almost exclusively by women, weaving and embroidery have been the richest form of expression and provided important economic power to women in rural Sardinia. The ways of making this art form is passed down from generation to generation and their stories are told in motifs that are taken from the natures, animal kingdom and geometric patterns. Traditional Sardinian weavings are patterned with small raised bumps of thread, called pibiones, which means grape seeds in Sardinian dialect. It is a painstakingly long process; weaver has to count all the threads to be able to position the pibiones to match her pre-designed pattern on graph paper, one pibiones at a time.
Present days, efforts are being made to incorporate this tradition with more contemporary approach by enterprise like Mariantonia Urru, founded by Mariantonia in 1981 in Sardinia’s weaving capital Samugheo, where they invite to work with various designers from different fields to create unique textile collections together using traditional Sardinian hand-weaving techniques.
The Artisan Craftsmanship of Sardinia
In the province of Nuoro in east Sardinia, town of Oliena flourishes in their embroidery tradition and is famous for the beautiful shawl productions, an integral part of Sardinian traditional costume. You can stay at Hotel Su Gologone in Oliena and experience the Sardinian crafts at its heart. The hotel is decorated with Sardinian artisan crafts everywhere from the bed linen to the furnitures in the garden and everything used to furnish the hotel can be purchased from the hotel’s art workshop, Botteghe d’Arte. You can book yourself a creative class in traditional Sardinian sewing, embroidery, mosaic, drawing and painting or take a look at their art collections comprised in the 19th and 20th centuries Sardinian arts displayed throughout the hotel.
Embroidery made by ‘golden hands’ of Barbagia women
In west Sardinia, small village of Samugheo in Oristano is famous for keeping the strong weaving tradition where the family looms are still being passed down to daughters of daughters. You can watch the short documentary, I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, about traditional hand weaving in Sardinia produced by the founder of Sardinia Arts, Kelly Manjula Koza and find out more about the meaning of weaving in Sardinia.
And if you are in town of Samugheo, follow the green wobbly thread painted on the main street and it will lead you to the Regional Museum of Sardinian Textile Art.
Sardinia’s hand weaving capital
Ulassai a small village perched on mountain terrain in Ogliastra province. Most famous for its largest cave in Europe, Su Marmuri, Ulassai is also surprisingly a modern art centre thanks to the contemporary artist Maria Lai (1919 – 2013) and her museum in old railway station, “Stazione dell’Arte” that showcases Maria’s works on rotation and other contemporary artworks by Sardinian artists. Just a kilometre away, you can visit the Textile Cooperative Su Marmuri and support the longest running women’s cooperative in Sardinia that was set up to preserve the textile traditions of Ulassai in 1971. Maria Lai has done long and fruitful collaboration work with the cooperative herself and donated her drawings of goats, mouflon, wild boars and frames in the 80’s and these elements are still widely used in the textile designs made here. There are rugs, bedspreads, cushions, centrepieces, towels, cover chests, wedding favours and all other bits that were born out of magic touch of Ulassai women.
Visit Maria Lai’s Ulassai