Oristano

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Very likely and because of the Aragonese dominion which was subject of deep resentment for the loss of their freedom that the Oristano people placed the Sartiglia at Carneval time and so handed down through popular memory the good deeds of the Giudicato d'Arborea. Towards the end of the 15th cent. songs about competition duelling were sung in the peoples' dialect in all the Italian "Signorie". In Oristano on the last Sunday and Tuesday of Carnival the most able cavaliers of Arborea continued to compete in the Sartiglia masked and wearing rich costumes, choosing the cavalier who would act as "cumpoidori" and so, for one evening becoming metaphorically, heir of the giudici of Oristano. It was the responsibility of the Gremio dei Contadini and Falegnami (farmers and carpenters associates) as the peoples representatives to perpetuate the tradition. This responsibility was morally consecrated in the legacy of the Canonico Dessi XVI cent. who willed certain lands to the Gremio dei Contadini, the proceeds of which were to meet the expenditure of the "Sartiglia". Due to this legacy the "Sartiglia" must take place at all costs in any conditions. During war years and plagues it was only the "Cumpoidori" who made an act of presence in front of the Cathedral in order to symbolically keep faith with the Gremi obligation. There are many moments during the ritual full of meaning which are not completely understood and it would take to long to explain them here. However the Sartiglia has three main phases. The robing commences early in the afternoon on both days; in the house of the "President" (Maggiorai) of the Gremio where "Su Cumpoidori" the leading cavalier is robed by a group of damsels who, tradition pertains, to be for at least that day, pure. The maidens dressed in traditional ancient costume remain in the care of (Sa Massaia Manna) an elderly woman. The ritual commences when "Cumpoidori" climbs on to a low table and there must remain until the robing ceremony terminates; after which he is then carried by two cavaliers who lift him on to his richly adorned horse and at this precise moment is flanked by two further cavaliers and now "Su Cumpoidori" blesses the immense crowd with the bouquet of violets. The damsels throw grain and flowers and the "Massaia Manna" invokes the blessing of S.Giovanni on the leader of the race. Cortege: a long procession of trumpeters and drummers the Gremio followers and masked cavaliers, pass through the city streets to meet in the square which was once that of Palazzo dei Giudici. Tournament: this marks the height of the ceremony. After the crossing of swords with his second "Su Compoidori" launches his horse into a frenetic race with the intent of piercing with a lance the centre of a silver star situated in the centre of a green ribbon which hangs across the street. This reckless race is repeated only by the cavaliers chosen by Su Compoidori and ends with a special trial of the "stocco" (a lance) reserved exclusively for the Cumpoidori and his second or third cavalier according to his decision.