The phases of Sartiglia

In the morning of the tournament day, 'Su Componidori' (the Head of the manifestation) pays a visit to the Guild President. Towards noon, a parade leaves the President's house and leads to the hall where the Dressing ceremony takes place. Drummers and trumpeters open the procession, formed by 'Is Massaieddas', who carry the clothes of the Componidori on their flat baskets (Is 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'. 

'Sa mesitta' is the table where the dressing rite will be performed. The attire worn by both 'Componidoris' – the two horsemen leading the manifestation on the Sunday and on the 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 – recalls ancient working clothes. Leather strings are used to fasten it on the breast of Sunday's Componidori, whereas heart-shaped silver studs button up the waistcoat worn by Tuesday's Componidori, completed by a pair of supplementary short leather trousers.

A well-wishing toast and a very last salutation mark the rider's forthcoming metamorphosis. By laying a mysterious mask upon the horseman's face, a transformation has occurred. While the Farmers' Componidori wears an impenetrable, earth-coloured mask, the mask worn by the Carpenters' Componidori is pale, with an imperturbable expression. An embroidered veil and a top hat upon it are the final acts of the ceremony. The last touch is represented by a camellia sewn upon the breast of the Componidori – a red flower on the Sunday and a pink one on the Tuesday.

From the table, Su Componidori mounts on the horseback. Describing a few blessing signs, greeting the President, the members of the Guild and the people present, the Componidori reaches the exit and leaves the hall leaning backwards over his horseback.

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 parade takes shape and leads to the Cathedral square, where the star joust begins.

A threefold crossing of swords between Su Componidori and his second- in-command marks the beginning of the Sartiglia. Su Componidori will tempt fate trying to hit the target piercing it with his sword, at full gallop. Next, it will be the turn of his two aides-de-camp and, afterwards, of those riders honoured by Su Componidori with the assignment of a sword. Skilled and successful riders will be prized with a little silver star as a keepsake.

The head of the joust and his mates may have the honour to use the wooden sword and try their luck for the second time along the Cathedral street. This is followed by Su Componidori handing the wooden sword back for “sa pipia de maiu”, a bunch of periwinkle and violets wrapped in a green cloth. The intensification of trumpets and drums announces “Sa Remada”, a daring performance by Su Componidori officially closing the ring joust. Leaning over his horseback, he rides down the track at full gallop, greeting and blessing the Guild and all the people present. Once more, it is time for all the riders to form a parade and move back towards via Mazzini, where the Pariglie will take place.

Su Brocci, the small tunnel leading to via Mazzini, marks the beginning of the audacious equestrian acrobatics. The series of performances opens with the group of Su Componidori: the three riders gallop down the itinerary, their horses aligned, and the two side horsemen guide, while the head of the tournament rides keeping his hands on his mates' shoulders.

The equestrian show goes on with riders performing spectacular routines. The closing of the race is marked by Su Componidori's ride, which includes a second remada. This time he is supposed to go down the track with his mates guiding the three horses at a gallop; again, he will lay flat on his horseback, greeting and blessing the crowd with “sa pipia de maiu”.

Finally, the head of the joust can reach all his horsemen, who greet his arrival in a triumph of applauses, while he keeps on blessing and greeting everybody with his “pipia de maiu”.


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