The dressing of 'Su Componidori'

In the morning of the tournament day, ‘Su Componidori’ (the Head of the joust) first goes to the stables to greet friends and riding mates; then he pays a visit to the President of the Guild. From here, at about noon, a parade will form and head for the hall where the dressing ceremony takes place. Drummers and buglers lead the cortege, composed by ‘massaieddas’ – young girls wearing the traditional costume of Oristano – carrying the clothes of ‘Su Componidori’ on their flat baskets (‘corbulas’), accompanied by ‘Sa Massaia manna’, a woman designated to supervise the dressing ritual; then, the Guild members follow, carrying the swords and a wooden sword to be used for the race and, finally, ‘Su Componidori’. 

A multitude welcomes the cortege, either in a hall or in a small square, duly prepared for the occasion. Among rounds of applauses and rolls of drums, the horseman approaches ‘sa mesitta’, a table where the rite will be performed. From that moment on, he is expected neither to get off the table nor to touch the ground, until the time of his return from the tournament, at the end of the undressing ceremony. 
Sitting on a chair, the horseman puts on an ancient attire, aided by the young girls. The attire worn by both ‘Componidoris’ – the two horsemen leading the joust, on Sunday and Tuesday respectively – are distinguished by garments and colours matching those of their own Guilds. Red ribbons are used to secure the puffed sleeves of the snow-white shirt worn by ‘Su Componidori’ of the Guild of San Giovanni; pink and light-blue are the ribbons fastening the sleeves of the shirt offered to the ‘Componidori’ of the Guild of San Giuseppe. Upon the shirt, the ‘coietto’ – a sleeveless tunic ending in a short skirt, as a protection for the legs – recalls ancient working clothes. Leather strings are used to fasten it on the breast of Sunday’s head of the joust, whereas heart-shaped silver studs button up the waistcoat worn by Tuesday’s ‘Componidori’, completed by a pair of supplementary short leather trousers. Next, some bands are fixed firmly around the horseman’s forehead and under his chin, to prepare his face to receive the mask. 

A well-wishing toast and a very last salutation mark the rider’s forthcoming metamorphosis. A startling flourish of trumpets and the incessant roll of drums accompany the laying of a mysterious mask upon the horseman’s face, at this moment transfigured into the ‘Componidori’. A transformation has occurred: now, to anybody, he is going to be nothing but ‘Su Componidori’. An impenetrable, earth-coloured mask distinguishes Farmers’ head of the joust; on the contrary, the mask worn by Carpenters’ ‘Componidori’ is pale, with an imperturbable expression. Additional bands are placed to ensure a steady positioning of the mask; an embroidered veil and a top hat upon it are the final acts of the ceremony. Last touch, a camellia is sewn upon the breast of the ‘Componidori’ – a red flower on Sunday and a pink one on Tuesday.

Suddenly, the excitement of bugles, drums and applauses ceases. In the utmost silence, a groom introduces the horse for the head of the joust, leading it towards ‘sa mesitta’: from that table, ‘Su Componidori’ mounts on horseback. Just then, the President of the Guild hands him ‘Sa Pippia ‘e Maiu’, a double bunch of periwinkles and violets symbolizing the upcoming spring. 
Describing a few blessing signs, greeting the President, the members of the Guild and all the people present, the ‘Componidori’ reaches the exit and leaves the hall leaning backwards over his horse’s back.
Outside, in the square, he is saluted by his two aides-de-camp, by all the other horsemen and a massive, euphoric crowd.

After his blessings and greetings, the cortege takes shape and heads for the Cathedral square, where  the star joust will begin.

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