Protecting the Handmade Safeguards the Economy — and More

In my presentations, I always talk about what the term handmade means, discuss the difference between handmade, hand-decorated, and mill-made textiles, and emphasize the importance of establishing and maintaining a classification system to protect the different types of Sardinian textiles.

Currently, there are no formal classifications or protections. This leads to confusion for buyers and encourages unscrupulous foreign businesses to appropriate and copy — steal — Sardinian textile designs and business. Even now, cheap, poorly-made textiles are being made in China and brought into Sardinia, where the cheap imitations are labeled as “Authentic Sardinian” weavings and sold in tourist shops and roadside stands. I find this sad and infuriating.  

Handwoven textiles are a key element of Sardinia’s heritage, and valuing and protecting the handweavers and their art is critical to maintaining the integrity of Sardinian textiles, overall Sardinian heritage, and the island’s economy. The European Union has a classification system to protect traditional foods and wines considered important to Italy’s cultural heritage — green plastic jars of “parmesan cheese” are not the same as rounds of true Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese, and the green jar name and labels cannot suggest they are.

A similar textile classification system would help buyers understand what kind of weaving they are purchasing, ensure fair pricing for the different classifications of weavings, and protect Sardinian handweavers, textile producers, and mill owners from having their designs stolen and copied by offshore makers. 

While there’s much to discuss about protecting Sardinian textiles, cultural appropriation, and related issues, I’ll be brief here. In fact, what you’ll read below are excerpts addressing these themes from the Sardinian Arts Statement. You can read the full statement here (anche in Italiano).

In recent years, we have heard too many stories of traditional cultures and their arts that have been appropriated by vendors who are greedy and lack scruples. Stolen designs are used to generate profit for large international conglomerates instead of the communities from which the designs come and items are traditionally produced. 

For the purpose of elevating the esteem and value for their art, Sardinian weavers should be recognized as artists, and their traditional designs should be respected as art of Sardinian origin. Items which incorporate Sardinian designs should be made only by local producers. The protection of Sardinian artists and designs will be advantageous to all the weavers of the island.

In Sardinia, most sellers don’t currently make a distinction between textiles made by hand, powerloom, or mill. In the tourist shops, on the internet, and even in some textile studios, all of these textiles are sold as “traditional” and “traditional handmade”.

Just as the European Union recognizes different classifications of traditional food, it’s important that Sardinian textiles are classified accurately with reference to the method and place in which they are made, and that the public be educated to this regard. In fact, all the classifications have their place and their buyers.

Having discussed and exchanged ideas and opinions with experts over the past years, I think that this system of classification will help buyers understand the classifications of textiles bearing the label “Made in Sardinia”, increase the esteem of all weavers of all the classifications, and protect the weavers in the global economy.

Handmade textiles: Textiles made completely by hand, using looms where all the movements and beating are done only by hand/foot, and not by a hydraulic, electronic, or computerized loom.

Hand-decorated textiles: Textiles made by hydraulic, electronic, or computerized looms, where all the beating is not done by hand/foot. The weavers stops the mechanical beating of the loom to make pibiones and/or add other decoration by hand.

Mill-made textiles: Textiles made in mills, by hydraulic, electronic, and/or computerized looms with minimum human involvement, and often where many similar objects are produced at the same time.

All the levels permit:

  • The use of fibers prepared in mills.
  • The use of a sewing machine, if the use is to make seams/hems after the weaving is cut from the loom and the seams/hems are not decorative.
  • The use of fibers prepared by hand without hydraulic, electronic, or computerized tools can be indicated with the label “Hand-spun fibers”.

All three classifications have their buyers and their place in the market. There is no competition. The difference between the three classifications of textiles is the same as the difference between a painting by a master painter, a limited-edition print of the painting, and a poster.

Truly handwoven Sardinian textiles are a fit for collectors and others who value the highest quality textiles and the work of the women who weave them. Hand-decorated items suit designers who want rapidly-made customized production of their designs or unique items without the cost of a truly handmade item. Mill-made textiles from Sardinia are nicely made, inexpensive, and perfect for everyday use in homes, hotels, and restaurants. 

While what I have written here is specific to Sardinia, I believe that protecting the handmade items and traditional arts of all cultures is necessary to preserve and sustainably build economies, societies, and people across the globe. Yes, technology has its place, but technology and gizmos must be balanced with the handmade in order to preserve and advance our physical and mental health, the health of the nature and societies, and the health of our individual and collective spirits.

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

The photos the cheese and also that of the power loom are from unknown websites; my thanks to the photographers.

Sardinia’s Geology and the Lost Continent

Many consider Sardinia to be Atlantis, or a fragment of that lost land. In Sardinia, as over much of the world, there is ample evidence that an ancient civilization far more advanced than ours in terms of mathematics, the sciences, the arts, and humanity thrived for millennia. Huge stone buildings, rock walls, ancient writing, signs of advanced knowledge and application of mathematics, energy, magnetism, and wireless communications attest to such a civilization in Sardinia as well as other locations in Europe, South and North American, Asia, and Africa. Much of the evidence indicates that Sardinia was the center of influences that spread to other areas. Sadly, this proof is usually ignored and sometimes even destroyed by classical historians of Western European lineage.

Sardinian archeologist and historian Leonardo Melis has written much about Sardinia’s history and influence, and Giovanni Cannella and others have also contributed research and books in this area. (All, however, are written in Italian and difficult to find outside of Sardinia.)

The vast amount of archeological and anthropological research proving the connection between the ancient Sardinians and the populations of now-diverse areas of the world is supported by recent geologic research proving, in detail, that Mediterranean land masses now separated were once unified.

This article (with embedded video) discusses how geologists have recently confirmed the location and movement of an ancient continent called Greater Adria, and proven which current geologic areas and features are remnants of that lost continent. The research is based on plate tectonics (the science of shifting land masses, called plates). Recent technological advances have enabled geologists to detail specific plate movements and how the various land masses comprising what we now consider Europe, Africa, Eastern Asia, and the Mediterranean have shifted over time, coming together and then dispersing in a manner the geologists have long suspected.

Specifically, the article discusses how, over a history spanning more than 100 million years, the continent of Greater Adria broke from the African plate, moved, and variously had portions submerge under the European plate, rise over the European plate, break into smaller pieces, and/or float over or sink under other land masses. Continental European mountains including the Apennines, parts of the Alps, and ranges in Greece, Turkey, as well as other distinct areas of Europe and what is now Sardinia were once compressed and located next to one another in Greater Adria. 

The article and the video are not surprising, given the wealth of astounding geologic, archeologic, and anthropologic evidence in Sardinia supporting a history far greater than what classicists have maintained.

Even without the proof the geologic research offers, when you visit Sardinia, you realize that the rock formations across Sardina were born of tremendous time and change. The mix of rock types; the jutting angles of sedimentary rock layers; the location of limestone in the center of the island; the wear of the rock; the variety of geologic formations; and other features of the land are almost indescribable. The archeological and anthropological proof is also astounding — the nuraghe, domus de janas, sacred wells, and other stone buildings; the statues, textiles, and other artwork; the legends and oral history of the island; and much more speak of a culture and heritage beyond what is recorded or taught even in the most esteemed universities.

While you may not be able to read the books mentioned above because they’re written in Italian, you can certainly find information by searching online, and see posts about Sardinia’s hidden history, geology, and natural beauty on Sardinian Arts’ Facebook and Twitter pages, as I repost items from the authors mentioned above and others who provide insight to the ancient history of Sardina and beyond.

~ KMK

Forest Fires Burning Large Areas of Sardinia in 2021

The numerous forest fires starting, spreading, and engulfing large areas of California, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and other western states are known to people in the United States not only because of the news, but because the smoke from these fires has at times grown so thick that people complain of headaches and watery eyes in distant states. Huge forest fires have also charred tens of thousands of acres across southern Europe: Greece, Turkey, and Southern Italy have been burning — as has been Sardinia. 

Massive forest fires started on the island on July 23, 2021 and by July 26, the initial fires had burned more than 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) across central Sardinia, wiping out homes, farms, crops, and forests, killing or injuring livestock and wildlife, and displacing people and animals.

While the initial fires were quelled, blazes continue to start and burn across the island. The exact number of acres burned is not known, for the fires start and grow so rapidly that accurate fire boundaries can’t always be mapped. The overall damage to forests, wildlife, crops, farm animals, and people won’t be known for some time, and recovery will take years. 

While there’s not much news in English about the Sardinian wildfires, I’ve put a few links below, along with links to Italian sites that include photos and videos of key fires. Many of the damaged areas are well known to me, as I have driven the roads and explored the areas. 

To help those most affected by the fires, individuals across the island and groups across Italy have started GoFundMe campaigns. Some campaigns have a general focus; others have a specific focus on agriculture, animals, or a particular region. I’ve put several GoFundMe links below, should you care to donate. Of course, prayers and best wishes are helpful and welcome.

List of Fires, Updated Daily

The Sardegna Protezione Civile (Sardinian Civil Protection Agency) website maintains a list of wildfires. The list is updated daily.

Articles in English

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/26/firefighters-battle-wildfires-raging-across-south-west-sardinia

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/26/world/europe/wildfires-italy-sardinia.html 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Sardinia_wildfires

Articles in Italian (with photos/video)

https://video.repubblica.it/cronaca/incendi-in-sardegna-le-campagne-sono-divorate-dal-fuoco-le-immagini-dal-drone/393718/394429?ref=search

https://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2021/07/26/gli-incendi-in-sardegna-nelle-ultime-48-ore18.html?ref=search

https://video.repubblica.it/politica/sardegna-lo-sgomento-di-mattarella-in-volo-con-l-elicottero-sulle-zone-devastate-dagli-incendi/393885/394596?ref=search

https://tg24.sky.it/cronaca/2021/07/27/incendi-sardegna-oggi#10

https://www.galluranews.org/incendi-2021-la-sardegna-perde-ogni-anno-oltre-2700-ettari-di-bosco/

https://www.galluranews.org/il-costo-e-di-oltre-10-000e-per-ettaro-questo-il-bilancio-dei-recenti-incendi/

https://www.galluranews.org/incendi-montiferru-le-prime-stime-dei-danni/

https://www.galluranews.org/incendi-bestiame-fienili-pascolo-urgono-i-sostegni/

GoFundMe Campaigns

To see all campaigns related to the 2021 Sardinian fires, click here.

Click here to see the campaign Aiutiamo La Sardegna a Rialzarsi —  Let’s help Sardinia to rise up again, sponsored by Unione Coltivatori Italiani (The Union of Italian Farmers), which is one of the oldest and largest associations working to protect agriculture, farmers, and related businesses across Italy and within the European Union. 

A Note about the Photos

The main photo is from the GoFundMe campaign started by the Unione Coltivatori Italiani The inset photo, taken in 2014, shows a road near one of the burned areas, from KM Koza.

The Enchanting Elegance of Pibiones

Fine Pibiones Up Close

This is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of this topic. I talk more about this during events, both in-person and online. See the News and Events section or sign up for the mailing list to keep updated!

Pibiones are small raised bumps of thread found on the most distinctive of Sardinian textiles. The name comes from an ancient word for grapes, as pibiones feel like grapes, and grapes and the harvest play a significant part in Sardinian history. 

Touching pibiones is an enchanting experience: Rub your hand over a handwoven textile bearing a pattern created by the pibiones, and your hand feels as if it’s getting a massage. You may even feel you’re playing an instrument that creates a nearly-silent tune, as the pattern and organization of the pibiones are musical in arrangement! Pibiones are practical, as well: They add strength, texture, and design to a textile. 

Weaving a textile with pibiones requires skill, dexterity, and patience. Pibiones are created by winding fibers around a long needle that sits on top of the weft (the foundation threads of a textile). Each pibione is counted and wound by hand, one pibione at a time, one row at a time, matched against a pattern drawn on graph paper. (See pibiones being woven in I Want to Weave the Weft of Time.)

The best pibiones are firm to the touch and remain durable and distinct when the textile is used. To achieve the desired firmness, threads used in the pibiones are often spun a second time before being woven. 

While considered uniquely Sardinian, the pibiones tradition of weaving is today found primarily in the Samugheo, in the center of the island. Aggius and Nule, other Sardinian towns renowned for their handwoven textiles, have different weaving traditions.

To learn more, see other pages on this site, including The Art of Handweaving, watch the documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, and/or attend one of my presentations about Sardinian handweaving. The News and Events area lists upcoming presentations and film screenings. 

Online Presentation: Sardinian Handwoven Textiles: Exploring a Nearly-Lost Art, September 2021

This presentation will be September 15, 2021 at 6pm San Francisco time. The event is free, but you must register to attend.

Join me online for this free event to explore the indescribable beauty of Sardinian handwoven textiles, see the loving and painstaking artistry of their creation, meet the tessitrici artigianali — the unique women weavers who maintain the tradition of a nearly-lost art — and glimpse just a bit of Sardinia’s majesty.

I’ll discuss the importance of the handmade, the relevance these women, their weavings, and their traditions have in our modern world, and the anima (spirit) of Sardinian handwoven textiles. I’ll share portions of my film as well as photos, stories of the weavers and my adventures on the island, and show some of my personal textile collection.

There’s no charge for the event, but you must register ahead of time. Click here to go to Eventbrite and register. You’ll receive confirmation and reminder emails with the Zoom link to the event.

I look forward to seeing you!

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

Filmmaker’s Screening: I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, August 2021

Join me for a free online screening of my documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time August 18, 2021 (Wednesday) from 6 to 7.30pm (18.00 to 19.30) San Francisco time.

I’ll add filmmaker’s commentary to provide a glimpse of how the film came about, the synchronicity of its making, working with the weavers, the soundtrack’s creation, and more. I’ll also share stories and additional video clips, including outtakes and works in progress, and answer questions.

There’s no charge for the event, but you must register ahead of time. Click here to go to Eventbrite and register. You’ll receive confirmation and reminder emails with the Zoom link to the event.

I look forward to seeing you!

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

Traveling to Italy and Sardinia: June 2021 Update

Like much of the world, Italy’s travel regulations are in constant flux due to the pandemic. For the most part, travel to Italy is restricted until July 31, 2021. Only travelers from certain countries (including the United States) can enter.

Currently, all travelers entering Italy must take a Covid test upon arrival and test negative in order to avoid a quarantine. This includes European Union (EU) citizens. Travelers from locations outside the EU must arrive on what are termed “Covid tested flights” and test negative in order to avoid the current 10-day quarantine. Each of the different arrival options requires you to provide and sign documentation attesting your health statements are truthful and that you will adhere to the required protocols. 

Covid Tested Flights

Italy permits travelers to enter on Covid tested flights departing from select airports in a handful of countries. Passengers on the Covid tested flights must complete certain paperwork and test negative for Covid before being permitted to enter and travel within Italy without undergoing a 10-day quarantine.

US travelers can book Covid tested flights on Delta or American Airlines. The Covid tested flights depart from New York (JFK) or Atlanta (ATL) and arrive in Milano (MXP) or Roma (FCO). Napoli (NAP) and Venezia (VCE) may be cleared to accept Covid tested flights at some point in the near future.

Travelers arriving on a Covid tested flight must meet these requirements:

  • Before the trip, provide a completed declaration form stating the reason for the trip, details about your prior travel, flight to Italy, Covid/vaccination status, and so forth (airlines generally provide this form)
  • Before boarding, complete and provide a Passenger Locator Form giving details about your itinerary
  • Upon boarding, provide a proof of a negative Covid swab test taken no more than 48 hours prior to departure (airlines may provide this as part of the trip fee)
  • Upon arrival at the destination airport, take another Covid swab test, which must test negative.

See detailed requirements and find updated information here.

Traveling to Sardinia

Each region within Italy has its own specific travel regulations. Sardegna Sicura has the latest information about requirements. In general, travelers to Sardinia must complete an additional self-declaration form.

If you happen to be going to Sardegna this summer and would like suggestions on where to go and what to do, contact me!

Vaccinated Travelers

Official information is still incomplete about plans to allow travelers vaccinated against Covid to enter Italy (and Europe) easily and move about freely. As of right now, it seems that vaccinated travelers from EU member states may be able to enter Italy and travel without tests or quarantines after July 1, 2021. 

While I had seen articles about vaccinated US citizens being able to enter freely after June 15, as of June 7, 2021, there’s no official information on the Italian websites about this. A digital health certificate (also called a “Green Passport”) confirming vaccination status appears to be close to launching for EU citizens, but there’s no official launch date or information about when such a digital app/Green Passport would be available for US and other non-European travelers. 

Helpful Websites and Smartphone Apps

The websites and smartphone apps below are updated on a regular basis. The information on the apps is generally updated more quickly and more frequently than the information on the websites. Find the smartphone apps on The App Store or GooglePlay. 

Languages of Sardinia – A Brief Introduction

The island of Sardinia boasts several distinct languages with diverse heritages. While Italian is now taught in schools across Sardinia and understood by those of baby-boomer age and younger, many older Sardinians, especially in towns away from the coast, may only know one of the languages historically spoken on the island. 

Sarde, the primary language of Sardinia, has two or three primary dialects. Campidanese is spoken across the central-southern and southern areas, while Logudorese and its variation Nuorese are spoken in the central-north area. A Romance language descended from Latin, Sarde is considered the modern language most similar to its renowned ancestor.

The very northern part of Sardinia boasts other languages: Gallurese in the Northeast, Sassarese in the Northwest, and Catalano in the area around Alghero. Gallurese and Sassarese stem from a historic connection the northern area had with Corsica and Tuscany, and sound very different from Sarde. Catalano remains from the Spanish influence on the island. 

While Latin, Corsican, and Spanish roots in the various Sardinian languages are visible, there are also diverse connections with languages and cultures across Europe, Northern Africa, and beyond.  And, as with any language and dialect, each sub-region and even town often has its own noticeable change in pronunciation or vocabulary of the local language.

To ease confusion in governmental documents, road signs, and other official uses, an experimental standardized written form of Sarde, Limba Sarda Comuna (LSC) was instituted in 2006. This is a loose standard, allowing local standards for spelling and ongoing adjustment, and also paves the way to preserve the language.

Sarde is generally no longer taught in schools, yet there are initiatives to bring the the language back into the curriculum with the LSC as the basis. The movement to teach and preserve Sarde is supported by authors, publishing houses, and much of the population, including a growing number of the younger generation. In addition, language scholars from outside Sardinia recognize the significance of Sarde and, to a lesser degree, the island’s other languages.

While many Sardinian youngsters learn Sarde at home, easily switching between Italian and their local language in everyday conversation, the Sardinian languages are not esteemed on continental Italy. Most Italians, especially those from Milano and the north, look down upon the Sardinian languages and even the accent Sardinians tend to have when speaking Italian. On mainland Italy, Sardinians often encounter a prejudice similar to one Southerners face when talking with New Yorkers in the United States.

As a language geek who loves Latin (although I have forgotten nearly all I learned in high school), I personally love the sound of Sarde, and understand bits of it it. Gallurese is completely different, and I can’t follow anything!

See the examples below for a comparison of the Logudorese and Campidanese dialects of Sarde, Latin, Italian, and English.

For more general information on Sardinian Languages, see this article on Wikipedia.

Comparing Languages — Examples

Sarde (Lugudorese)

Babbu nostru chi ses in chelu
siat santificadu su nomene tou
benzat su renu tou
sia fata sa voluntade tua 
comente in chelu gai in terra. 
Su pane nostru de dogna die donanos
e perdonoa sos peccados nostros
comente nosateros perdonamos a sos depidores nostros
e nos non eses ruere in sa tentazione
ma libera nos dae male. 

Sarde (Campidanese)

Babbu nostu chi ses in celu,
Santificau siat su nomini tuu.
Bengiat a nosus su regnu tuu,
Siat fatta sa boluntadi tua,
comenti in celu aici in terra.
Donasi oi su pani nostu de dogna dii,
Et perdonasi is peccaus nostus,
Comenti nosus perdonaus a is depidoris nostus.
Et no si lessis arrui in tentatzioni,
Et liberasi de mali.

Latin

Pater noster, qui es in cælis:
sanctificétur Nomen Tuum:
advéniat Regnum Tuum:
fiat volúntas Tua,
sicut in cælo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidiánum da nobis hódie,
et dimítte nobis débita nostra,
sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris.
et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem;
sed líbera nos a Malo.

Italiano

Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli,
sia santificato il tuo nome,
venga il tuo regno,
sia fatta la tua volontà,
come in cielo così in terra.
Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano,
e rimetti a noi i nostri debiti
come anche noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori,
e non abbandonarci alla tentazione,
ma liberaci dal male.

English

Our Father which art in heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, 
Thy will be done in earth, 
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

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Spring 2021 Presentation Series: Sardinian Arts Online

Join me live online for an intimate series of presentations about Sardinian handwoven textiles, the women who maintain nearly-lost weaving traditions, and more!

In this free series, I’ll be sharing my stories, videos, and photos of the women weavers and their distinctive textiles; showing weavings from my own collection; discussing the history and revival of Sardinian handweaving; providing a historical and cultural overview of Sardinia; giving you a photographic tour of the island; answering your questions; and more!

This series starts Saturday January 23, 2021. See the full schedule below.

If you have missed earlier sessions, you can still come to later sessions!

Please register to attend the free sessions.

I look forward to seeing you online!

~ Kelly Manjula Koza, Sardinian Arts’ Founder

PS — Before the events, I very much suggest that you watch I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, my free 30 minute documentary on handweaving in Sardina. You can also find the video directly by going to WeaveWeftofTime.com.

Schedule

Saturdays at 11am Pacific / Noon Mountain / 1pm Central / 2pm Eastern. Each session will last 60-90 minutes.

  • January 23 — Introduction, Background, and Film Highlights with Commentary
  • January 30 — Weaving in Samugheo
  • February 6 — Weaving in Nule
  • February 13 — Weaving in Aggius
  • February 20 — Converging Threads: The Importance of the Handmade, How Weaving Came to Sardinia, the Resurrection, and More
    Please note the dates below have been corrected!
  • February 27 — Sardinian History, Culture, and Arts Beyond Weaving
  • March 6 — Sardinian Tour: Photos and Stories Around the Island
  • March 13 — Questions, Answers, Open House