first page | the masks | the scene | origins and meanings | points of interest
ORIGINS AND MEANINGS
The mamuthones and issohadores masks can be interpreted in many ways.
Their performance may celebrate the victory of Barbagia shepherds (issohadores) against the Saracen invaders, imprisoned and led in procession (mamuthones).
It may also be considered a “totemic rite of the subjection of the ox”, or a ritual procession carried out by Nuragic people to honour some agricultural or pastoral god.
Mamuthones are, therefore, a herd of oxen tamed by the issohadores, their herdsmen, or the mamuthones are ox-men, shepherds who identify themselves with the animals by covering their faces with a mask with their features, almost worshipping such
a useful animal.
Dolores Turchi, an expert on popular traditions, believes that the
origin of mamuthones goes back to even more ancient times: they may be related to ancient fertility rites, linked to Dyonisiac cults widespread in the Mediterranean area.
Some believe that the performance represents the mythical killing of the old people, while others think that the mamuthones mask portrays some diabolical spirit.
We will let the Mamoiada masks speak to us with their silence, which does not need to be interpreted, we will let the bells and the wooden masks speak to our hearts, always reminding us that it will be worthwhile to go back to Mamoiada next year, for a Carnival “…which has no equal on earth”.