“Carnival” in Sardinia in the Context of Modernity

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Key words
Sardinia, Barbagia, Carnival, tradition, archaic rituals, masks, fertility cult, demons, destruction of tradition
Oxana D. Fais
About the Author
E-mail: oxana-fais@yandex.ru Tel.: + 7 (499) 954-93-43
32a, Leninskii ave., Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation
PhD in History, Senior Researcher, Center for European Studies, N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The article is written in accordance with the research plan of the N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences.


In this article, the author analyzes the current state of a ritual event that is one of the most significant in the worldview of the population of Barbagia, a mountainous area of Sardinia. Sardinia is one of the most culturally conservative regions of Italy, and this is especially the case with Barbagia. This archaic ritual is one of the oldest fertility cults and is conventionally referred to as “Carnival,” both on the island and outside of it. The article is based on the author’s field studies and little-known archival data. In studying the substance of the ritual and its ancient roots, the author also examines its actors, the variants and most archaic forms of their conduct, and analyzes the role of the church in the external Christianization of rites. She also tracks the “autochthonous” components of the ritual as well as the new ones: those that are pagan, those introduced by the church, local and foreign, preserved and reconstructed elements. Attention is also paid to modern practices of reconstruction, including the false reconstruction of tradition in the region, its specific characteristics and consequences. In particular, it describes the transformation of the ritual tradition, which is in demand by the local society, into performances offered to an “alien,” external audience.


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For citation

Fais O. D. “Carnival” in Sardinia in the Context of Modernity. Traditional Culture. 2021. Vol. 22. No. 3. Pp. 110–122. In Russian.