CRAFTS & JEWELLERYThe production of Sardinian artistic handicraft distinguishes itself on national context for its originality, variety and the unitary mark of the manufactured
articles. The peculiarity of Sardinian handicraft is due to its close relation which it kept during the centuries with the most genuine folk traditions. On the other hand this tradition evolved also through an exchange with the results of the cultured art.
Born as necessary everyday objects, Sardinian handicraft products have acquired ever increasing and more refined decorating elements. The artistic handicraft production is addressed today in prevalence to the market, thanks to the protection and promotion activitz led since 1957 bz the I.S.O.L.A. (Sardinian Institute for Handiwork Organization). The materials are offered by the vegetable and animal World, as for example the asphodel, the palm, wool, bone and clay. Colouring matters are all natural. The recurrent motives of the decoration repre-sent stylized elements of the flora and fauna, as well as cosmological or sirnply geometrical signs. The most lively sectors concern weaving, ceramics, carved
wood and jewellery. Further typical productions of the island are those of the koral (linked with the toast fishing, above all on the litoral of Alghero), of the knife-working (in the centre of Sardinia) and of the cork.
Main sectors of Sardinian handicraft
The handicraft tradition of the ceramics in Sardinia dates back to the nuragic period. Still today, in fact, the shapes of the manufactured articles follow the very ancient ones of the early Sardinlan everyday objects: jugs, tiles, little flasks and food-containers. In the works of contemporary artists convey archaic elements together with modern features. The most typical potteries, produced mainly in Assemini, Oristano, Siniscola and Dorgali, are glazed in a yellow-green tonality. Characteristic of Cagliari, Cabras and Sassari is, on the contrary, the white maiolica.
Isili (NU) is the only centre in Sardinia which can boast a coppersmith tradition. The copperworkers of this village are the heirs of a very closed guild whose exact origin is today stili a mistery. From their art arise big cauldrons for the cheese-processing, ladles to sklm milk and the typical braziers.
Silver is traditionally the metal chiefly used by Sardinian goldsmiths to which only recently have been added gradually gold and some semi-precious stones, such as turquoises, garnets and cornelians. The main working-technique is the filigree, but melting, embossed work and engraving are also diffused. The recurrent design of the shapes and ornaments represents flowers. The north of the island is famous for the red koral handicraft. Among the best known jewels we mention the Sardinian wedding-ring and su lasu, a very gaudy butterfly-shaped pendant
manufactured wlth an open-work technique.
Weaving represents the liveliest and most important sector of Sardinian artistic handicraft. The products are those typical of the folk tradition, such as blankets, tapestry, table-clothes and forniture-webs. Decorations go from geometrical motives to Sardinian flora and fauna elements that sometimes remember heraldic figures. The different weaving techniques depend on the use of the horizontal or vertical loom. The knoting weaving, recently introduced, marks the most modern manufactured articles.
The basket-weaving art
The vegetation of the island, especially the marsh-plants offers the raw
material for basket handicraft and weaving. While in ancient times the craftsmen produced only hunting and fishing tools and everyday objects, nowadays the variety of the manufactured articles is from an aesthetic point of view richer: other decorating elements, such as webs and brocades, have been added to the vegetable fibres. The most important products of the handicraft branch are the baskets produced particularly in Flussio, Sinnai and in the Barbagia of Olzai and Ollolai.
The most significant product of the engraving art is the traditional Sardinian chest made of chestnut-wood or seldom of walnut and oak-wood. Depending on the geographical areas, the craftsmen are inspired by geometrical, floreal or cosmological motives (such as the sun , oft engraved in the middle of the front-side of the chest). Further typical products are is talleris, big trenchers used to serve the roast lamb and pig and also many haushold objects, such as ladles, carving-forks and spices-containers are made of wood. Original manufactured articles are the characteristic stamps to mark the bread and the briar or heather pipes produced in Laerru and Teulada. Of a pa-ticular interest are, finally, the wooden masks connected with the carnival in Barbagia and its archaic ritual exorcisms.
As the little bronze statues of the nuragic period testify the metal-processing
in the island is very ancient strenghtened by the presente of wide and rich metalliferous areas. Concerning iron handicraft the knife-working is still today the best in the World. Its traditional producing centres are Pattada, Santulussurgiu, Ar-bus, Dorgali and Tonara. Typical are also fire-irons, lamps, bedheads and
candelabra, besides a great variety of wrought iron objects whose shapes are suggested by the animal world.