The most cruel carnival celebration on Sardinia preserved from pre-Christian times takes place in Lula , the passion of Dionisus is being embodied.
Dionisus is the Greek halfgod, son of Zeus that was worshipped in Sardinia way before Christ.
Pagan elements from a remote past can still be found today in many of the Sardinian carnival celebrations.
Today we set out with some friends to participate in the carnival celebrations in Lula, one of the most authentic carnivals of Sardinia, and we were all positively impressed by the details of the ceremony, and the good and happy mood of the whole thing. Even though there was a bit of a drizzle most of the time, it was a Fantastic day!
An important part of the celebration is called “la vestizione” the dressing, where it all begins. The faces are blackened with burned cork, including those of many bystanders. Goatskins and bells are hung around and the lassos and whips are prepared, even hear a pigs stomach belongs to the outfit.
Sos Battileddos which in this case means the fools, are the figures participating in the carnival celebration. Literally Sos Battileddos are the ones who take the beating.
All have blackened faces as a sign of mourning. The main protagonist is Su Battileddu, the head of the fools so to say, he is drawn through the village in lassos by two other Battileddos, followed by a group of around 10 young men dressed as mourning women.
The women are mourning because Su Battileddu is going to be sacrificed, he is dressed up not only with goat horns, but also with a blood-filled pig stomach, hidden under his coat of black goatskin. The pig stomach is attached to a belt of cork where the other Battileddos occasionally prick in order to make their victim bleed.
Every time he goes down on his knees a sip of wine gives him new strength, and off he goes again pulling on his lassos into the crowd of bystanders. The wine comes from a barrel that’s being pulled around by the mourning women on a blue cart, and also the bystanders that have turned into participants get offered a cup of wine.
The mourning women run back and forth screaming, pushing bystanders and occasionally they catch young women and then show their phallic symbol which they keep hidden under their skirt.
The whole celebration is a pagan propitiation rite, bringing a sacrifice to appease the gods for a good year. A fertility ritual for people and agriculture. At the end of the ride Su Battileddu dies, the women lay down besides him and cry ferociously, the music starts again, Su Battileddu is loaded on the blue cart, some more wine is poured from the barrel and people start dancing the traditional ‘ballu tundu’ circle dance. Afterwards there’s a dinner where everybody ca participate against a small contribution.