Su battileddu by Marcello Perino

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“su battileddu” is the protagonist of lula’s carnival mask. lula is a small village in sardinia where the archaic rite of dionysus’ death takes place every year during carnival.

“su battileddu” (the village idiot) is the sacrificial victim. he wears sheep hides, his face is dirty with soot and blood, while his head is covered with a woman’s handkerchief topped with a goat stomach between a pair of big curved horns. he also wears some cowbells, and on his belly hangs an ox stomach filled with blood and water, which is perforated from time to time by the “battileddos massajos” (the keepers of the victim) to wet the land and fertilize the fields.

The “battileddos massajos” wear farmer clothes, their faces are soiled with soot, and they keep the victim tied up with leather ropes. they follow the sacrificial victim all around the village striking and wounding him till death. there are also other characters who follow the victim: they are the “battileddos gattias”, men disguised as widows. they hold rag dolls and ask young women in the crowd to nurse them, while they wail and sing funeral melodies for the victim. when the victim reaches the main square where a big bonfire is lit, the “battileddos massajos” kill him while the “battileddos gattias” scream and cry. then, they place the victim on a cart, the last gesture before rebirth. [Official Website]

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