Another short, slow video, this time of a small jellyfish floating peacefully in the warm, clear waters of Portobello, Sardinia.
Another short, slow video, this time of a small jellyfish floating peacefully in the warm, clear waters of Portobello, Sardinia.
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.
Saturdays at 11am Pacific / Noon Mountain / 1pm Central / 2pm Eastern. Each session will last 60-90 minutes.
Small things make a big difference.
My favorite way to illustrate this stems from design school. Back in a time when we drew straight lines by hand using T-squares, triangles, and Rapidograph pens, we used a simple exercise to demonstrate that absolute care, attention, and precision was necessary in creating the very first to the very last element of a project.
Think of drawing horizontal lines on a piece of paper to emulate a 8.5″ x 10″ sheet of notebook paper, which generally has about 32 lines. If you were to draw the lines by hand, you would start from the bottom of the page, draw a base line, use that line to align and draw the line above it, and then use the newly-drawn line to align and draw the line above it, continuing this process until all lines on the page are complete.
If the very first line you drew was off level by 1/32 of an inch — the width of a fine pen nib — your design would be ruined: by the top of the page, after repeating the 1/32 inch error 32 times, your top line would be tilted one inch.
Now think of an architect guiding the construction of a skyscraper a hundred stories high, and the precision with which the foundation must be laid. Consider a handweaver making a bedspread that requires weaving thousands of crosswise weft-fibers, and the careful alignment necessary for the first row, and every row, of fibers. Think of the navigators, mathematicians, and engineers calculating courses for ships traveling oceans, skies, universes, and how the initial degree, minute, and second of direction must be absolutely precise, and then checked and corrected constantly to ensure the ship reaches the intended destination. The tiniest bit of imprecision — or an unseen factor affecting calculations or the project — would drastically change the outcome.*
Simply put, the tiniest detail affects the outcome in ways we can’t imagine.
This is true within and beyond architecture, construction, navigation, sciences, arts, and crafts. This is true in everything — and for everyone. This is true for presidents, prime ministers, actors, sports figures, scientists, saints, mystics, people of fame — and each and every one of us.
Each one of us affects the whole. And each of our actions affects the whole.
This can be staggering to consider — yet this realization is also a gift, a blessing.
If each of us, each of our actions, each of our interactions, each of our words affect the whole, affects our world, how do we watch, use, care for our actions, our words, and that which we contribute to our world?
Do we, in our personal spheres and work, act with disregard, condescension, hatred, and anger, spewing toxic dark clouds of negativity that increase with time and distance to create chaos, war, and destruction on a global scale?
Or do we bring awareness, compassion, love, and care for small things into the tiny moments of our daily lives, filling what we touch with light, harmony, and joy — all of which increase with time and distance to create a world more beautiful, inclusive, harmonious, and supportive that we can perhaps imagine?
When we realize that we’re all connected and that each one of us contributes to the creation of the world we share, I believe we have the responsibility to act upon that realization: to live with love, act with compassion, care for small things, and give attention to the tiny moments of life.
If the tiny things are cared for, if small acts are done with love and kindness, if we bring joy to our work, if we treat people, animals, plants, nature with compassion — imagine how the results would — will — magnify.
Can we each play our part, no matter how small it seems, to help the world change for good, beyond what we can imagine?
I think of those so often invisible in our modern world, and what they bring to us. Living and working with care, compassion, love, and awareness are mystics, mothers, artists, and others, including handweavers.
Women weaving in the hills of Sardinia; rebozo weavers and lace-makers in Oaxaca and Teotihuacan; Native Americans weaving in the Southwestern U.S.A; rug-makers weaving in the Middle East; sari-weavers in India; and others comprising the dwindling numbers of handweavers: All are working with care, focus, and attention, placing and aligning each fiber of every textile they weave.
Beautiful textiles are the visible, tangible result of the precision and care handweavers bring to their work.
But what are the invisible, intangible results?
Perhaps the fragile balance of our world is subtly maintained by the magnified effect of the order, precision, care, and love the handweavers bring to their work.
Who’s to say otherwise?
*Professor Edward Lorenz famously discussed how small acts — the change of a single variable in a set of conditions — would be magnified over time and distance and thus change outcomes. This has become known as the “butterfly effect”, simply stated as a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world could cause a typhoon on the other side of the world.
© 2020 KM Koza
This piece is also posted on Tramite.org.
For some of us, watching the sunrise is a favorite way to usher in the new day.
If you lack a good view of the morning sun, don’t rise early enough, or merely want a beautiful sunrise to watch as you start your day, here’s a real-time video of a peaceful sunrise in Gallura, Sardinia.
Enjoy watching the sky lighten in the pre-dawn minutes before the sun rises over the distant water and hills. The fields and sounds of the agriturismo are the foreground. This is definitely a slow video — 34 minutes long, with the camera immobile throughout.
Filmed from the porch of my room at Agriturismo Nuraghe Tuttusoni, Portobello, Sardegna in September 2019.
I think often of handmade gifts and items that are constructed by hand.
In an era replete with an overabundance of machine-made, ready-to-go, disposable stuff, many people don’t think about handmade items or their value, which is a value that extends beyond a dollar amount or shelf-life longevity. The unquantifiable value factor is human: The value is in and of the makers as well as the receivers of the handmade.
Creating handmade items requires a great deal of time and much consideration. Many handmade gifts, of clothing especially, are created for a specific person. Such handmade items are highly prized not only because they are made and stitched “to measure” — a time-consuming and skillful process — but because, when you understand the process of making a handmade item, say a shirt, you realize the time and the consideration required to make the item. Making a shirt demands good project planning skills to manage the many steps: the purchasing or making of component pieces (the fabric, thread, buttons, interfacing, and related); the acquisition and maintenance of the necessary tools (sewing machine, needles, scissors, table, and so forth); the taking of the recipient’s measurements, and more. Of course, making a shirt also necessitates the craft or artistic skills and engineering ability necessary to make the item, plus time: setting aside the hours necessary to complete all the steps of cutting, matching, sewing, and applying details to finish a shirt.
Yes, handmade items are an expression of the maker’s mastery of their particular craft, and handmade gifts are a demonstration of the maker’s love and consideration of the person to whom the gift is given. The gift given is not just the item: the gift is the time, thoughts, and love of the maker.
This consideration and love, as well as the attitude of the maker are present in every fiber and every stitch of the item. Especially while making a gift — during the hours, days, and perhaps weeks and months required to create an item — the maker would have thought often of the recipient, imagining how the recipient would use and appreciate the item. The concept that the thoughts of a maker imparted corresponding qualities into an object was commonly understood in many traditional cultures; hence the stories of women weaving, spinning, or stitching thoughts of joy, contentment, and abundance into a textile.
The type of handmade item does not matter: whether a shirt, rug, ceramic mug, carved wooden toy, poem, painting, a plate of cookies, or a home-cooked meal, the thoughts, attitudes, and qualities of the maker pass into the very substance of that which they create.
Realizing this, we begin to understand what we as individuals and as a society lack when we no longer have handmade items as a component of what we touch, feel, wear, and eat in our everyday lives.
May we all consciously put love, care, and attention into all we create, so that our creations carry these as offerings to the world.
Even if we are not creating a tangible object to gift to another, the gift itself may be as simple as a word, a glance, or a hug that transmits our love and caring.
Here’s a good piece from USA Today about the importance of textiles and how their relatively recent commoditization has made us forget how difficult, complex, and time-consuming handweaving and hand-spinning are. The column also touches upon the value of fibers and woven items, not only in themselves, but as components of products and machines that have driven advances in areas from commerce to medicine.
Read the piece: The thread of history: Be thankful that textiles have changed the fabric of living, by Virginia Postrel in USA Today, November 26, 2020.
It is only in the past century, and especially in the past generation, that most Americans could forget where cloth comes from. Once so valuable they were stolen from clothes lines and passed down in wills, textile products now occupy only a tiny fraction of household budgets. ~ Virginia Postrel
When I talk with people about Sardinian handwoven textiles and the importance of valuing and protecting the weavers and their art — key elements of Sardinia’s cultural heritage — and the textile classification system designed to protect Sardinian textiles, the weavers, and the island’s economy, I often discuss the labeling standards and classifications that the European Union (EU) uses to protect the fine foods and wines respected as key elements of Italy’s cultural heritage.
Italy’s art, architecture, design, natural beauty, and food are considered part of the country’s heritage and recognized as treasures that must be protected. When you think of certain Italian foods — perhaps a favorite cheese, meat, wine, liquor, or traditional speciality dish — you most likely think of a certain inimitable flavor, smell, and texture, all arising — and inseparable— from the area in which the ingredients were grown and how the food was prepared. Food and wine recipes are passed down from generation to generation within a region and often within a family, and it’s understood that the taste and quality of the food changes if the food is prepared using different ingredients (even those grown in different regions) or the preparation method altered in any way.
The food classifications recognize and protect the names, recipes, quality, and area of origin of traditional Italian foods, and guarantee the item bearing the label meets certain criteria of how and where the food was grown or produced. This system ensures that the food or wine you purchase is genuine — the item comes from a specific area, is produced according to traditional methods and standards, and thus tastes, looks, smells, and feels as the food or wine traditionally tastes. This system — recognized by World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries as well as the EU — also discourages food piracy and helps protect the economy and people of the region where the food is traditionally grown and prepared. (Food piracy refers to the unethical practice of using the name of a protected food to sell a food product made outside the traditional area, using non-traditional methods and/or foods grown outside the traditional area.)
The different food classification levels are outlined below. The explanations will help you understand the difference between the criteria of different labels and why you’ll find a price difference between DOP, IGP, and STG foods and between IGT, DOC, and DOCG wines.
The primary food classifications are DOP, IGP, and STG.
The DOP designation denotes the tightest restrictions regarding where and how a food product is grown and produced. The DOP label recognizes that the qualities and characteristics of the food product are essentially or exclusively due to the natural and human factors found within a specific geographical environment of a designated country and region. The geographical environment — including the climate, production techniques passed down through generations, craftsmanship, and more — make the product inimitable outside the designated production area. All production, transformation and processing of a DOP product must take place within the delimited area.
All DOP products bear the official DOP stamp in red and yellow, with the words “Denominazione d’Origine Protetta”.
More than 165 Italian foods bear the DOP designation, including Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. Since 2010, wines considered DOC and DOCG (see below) have been considered DOP products.
The IGP designation recognizes that the characteristics of a food product depend upon the geographical area in which the food product is prepared, yet the IGP designation requires that only one of the phases of production, transformation, and/or processing occur within a designated geographical area. For instance, an IGP product may be prepared within the designated geographical area using ingredients sourced from outside the designated area.
There are currently about 130 Italian products bearing the IGP designation, including l’Aceto Balsamico di Modena, la Mortadella Bologna, and la Bresaola della Valtellina.
All IGP products bear the official IGB stamp in blue and yellow, with the words “Indicazione Geografica Protetta”
The STG designation denotes a traditional food prepared using a traditional recipe or method of production (one existing for more than 30 years). The food must be prepared within the European Union, but no specific country or region is designated for either the sourcing of ingredients or the production of the food. If a food is prepared using recipes or production methods outside of those designated for the STG designation, the food can still bear the name of the traditional food, but not the official STG label.
All STG products bear the official STG stamp in yellow with a solid blue center and the words “Specialità Tradizionale Garantite”
A different system is used for wine. These classifications were rolled into the DOC classification in 2010.
The IGT designation denotes wines produced in a comparatively large geographical area — a region or territory recognized for producing grapes of a uniform quality that impart specific qualities to wine — where at least 85% of the grapes were grown within that area and the wine was produced according to specific requirements. IGT is the least restrictive of the wine designations, and wines bearing the IGT designation cannot use the name of a geographical area or region protected by DOC or DOCG designation. IGT wines do not have to declare the wine vintage or color.
The DOC designation is given to wines whose unique qualities are recognized as being dependent upon the particular natural environment and human factors (such as production techniques and craftsmanship) linked to a particular geographic area. In addition, DOC wines undergo a sensory and chemical-physical analysis before receiving the DOC designation. Most DOC wines are maintain the IGT designation for at least five years before being eligible for consideration as a DOC wine.
The DOCG designation is the highest designation for a wine. After a wine has maintained DOC designation for ten years, the wine may be submitted for DOCG consideration. A special commission performs a sensory analysis of the wine before granting the first DOCG designation, and each batch of wine must be tested and successfully pass the analysis prior to being granted DOCG status.
Similarly, to protect the fine heritage, traditions, and designs of Sardinian textiles, and the weavers and economy of Sardinia, I compiled a three-tier classification system that delineates standards for handwoven textiles, hand-decorated textiles, mill-made textiles in Sardinia. The three classifications recognize the different production method, market, and price range for Sardinian textiles. See this page for details about the classifications.
While this system is not yet official, I hope someday to see these standards for Sardinia textiles used across the island, the EU, and the world!
I love talking about this vegetable, both because of my introduction to it, and because of how well I believe it represents characteristic Sardinian traits of fortitude, hardiness, patience, and transforming what seems daunting and difficult — be it situations, people, or things — into a result that is beautiful, thoughtful, and golden.
I first encountered this preserved vegetable during an early visit to the island. I was in Samugheo and eating dinner with Susanna, Isa, and the extended family — Angelina, Anna, Tiziana, and Cri — and they offered me some of this vegetable, obviously locally grown, carefully picked, and lovingly prepared. I had come to learn that Angelina, Susanna’s sister, was the cook and gardener for the family, and most if not all of the vegetables presented at the table were grown and/or preserved by Angelina’s strong and graceful hands.
Isa offered me an open jar of this preserved vegetable, and — as is characteristic of me — I put a generous portion on my plate despite not knowing what the vegetable was. As I tasted the it, I wondered: Lotus root? No, none of the little seeds, and there were no ponds here where lotus would grow. Okra? No, not the right taste or consistency. Celery? This seemed a bit tougher than celery, and had a open center channel not common to celery, and it didn’t really taste like celery — but I could not think of what else it might be, and I’m pretty good at “name that vegetable.” I convinced myself that it was just a different type of celery, that the olive oil in which it was preserved masked some of the taste, and happily munched.
“Ti piace?” Isa gestured towards the jar, asking me if I liked the vegetable.
I nodded. “Si. E’ sedano?” Yes. Is it celery?
“Cardo? Non lo so cardo. . .” I didn’t know what cardo was, and a quick check of the limited Italian dictionary I had on my phone at that time didn’t yield any results.
Isa tried to describe cardo to me, saying it grew everywhere, wild. I think she was a bit bewildered that I didn’t know what this vegetable was, as it was obviously so common. Rising, she walked over to her computer, googled, and pointed to the photo now displayed on the screen.
“Ah!” I said. “Si chiama thistle in inglese! Abbiamo cardo nelle colline e nei giardini da California, anche fuori casa mia! Ma non lo mangiamo!”
Yes, we have thistle in the hills around San Francisco, even outside my house — we just don’t eat thistle!
I was imagining harvesting the plant — ouch — and peeling the spiny stalks — ouch again — before cutting the stalk-hearts and soaking them in oil. It seems a bit. . . intimidating. I keep thinking I’ll harvest a stalk or two of California’s wild thistle when the season’s right, but I haven’t yet, and it’s been some years.
Fortitude, hardiness, patience, and transforming what seems daunting and difficult into a result that is beautiful, thoughtful, and golden: I have seen the women of Sardinia do this with everything — no matter how thorny!
Why is Sardinia a great place to vacation after you emerge from lockdown?
Beyond the usual reasons people flock to Sardinia for vacations — the natural beauty of the island, with its indescribable mountains, sea, and beaches; the incredible food, hospitality, and people; the unique traditions, arts, and culture; the warm, strong, intrepid people; and so much more about which I write elsewhere — there are seven health-related reasons is this relatively unknown island in the Mediterranean a perfect place to go for a post-lockdown vacation.
I’ll try to keep my descriptions brief!
Sardinia has one of the highest percentages of centurions in the world. Many Sardinians live happily, healthfully, and actively into their 100s. This is due to many factors, from an isolated genetic pool to the next factors mentioned — all of which contribute to the health of Sardinians — and their visitors!
The food in Sardinia is locally grown and prepared in traditional ways. While you may recognize the names of some of the dishes and their ingredients, the freshness, purity (forget the terms genetically-modified and factory-farmed), and care put into food means that what you eat — cheese from Sardinian sheep and goats; island-raised meat, wheat, pasta, seafood, vegetables, wine, and more — taste nothing like what you expect, or may have ever tasted.
My consistent experience of Sardinian food is that it’s delicious, and it makes my body (and tastebuds) happy — even when I eat things I would not/do not eat in the States.
The quality of the food and the love put into its raising, cultivation, and preparation is undoubtedly one of the key factors to the longevity and health of Sardinians — and you’ll be eating this same food while you’re on the island.
Sardinian air is pure and carries the scent of whatever is in bloom at the season — the intoxicating scent of mirtillo is most associated with the island. If you are close enough to the sea, you’ll smell the Mediterranean; in the central part of the island; the air carries the clarity of the mountains, the high plains, or the valleys.
The mountains across the island range from hills similar to those in coastal California to peaks like those found in Colorado, all packed into an area the size of Vermont. The sun is Mediterranean, beautiful and bold, often shining, yet not exhausting and brutal — even fair-skinned, blue-eyed people such as myself tan rather than burn when in Sardinia.
The Sardinian sea is beautiful beyond compare, and the beaches are pristine. Dozens if not hundreds of Sardinian beaches meet rigid quality, sustainability, and cleanliness standards required of the Bandiera Blu designation.
There’s more to Sardinia’s nature and outdoors than mountains, sun, sea, and beaches — but I promised to keep this article brief! The natural beauty and purity of the island most certainly contribute to the health of Sardinians — and those of us who visit.
Sardinians love their island, one another, food, life, and living. They don’t hurry the minutes, hours, tasks, or pleasures of life. This is evident in everything they make and do, from their arts and festivals to their food and hospitality — and in their health and happiness. An unhurried life in which meals are prepared with love, eaten with family and friends, and the work one pursues is done with careful attention certainly contributes to the health and longevity of Sardinians — and influences our own for the better when we visit the island.
The Sardinian mentality both manifests in and contributes to the Sardinian lifestyle. On one hand strong, stoic, and private, Sardinians are also warm, welcoming, and humorous. Patient, steadfast, and determined — sometimes called testardi, hard-headed — the Sardinians have maintained their ancient cultures, traditions, and ecosystems through centuries while still allowing select modern advantages to enhance their lives. Strength and persistence permeate Sardinia and are tangible in the nature, land, and lives of Sardinians — and rub off on those of us who visit.
As an island, Sardinia has been protected by the natural borders of the sea throughout history. While the island has been invaded at times by warring nations, the invaders have never persisted, and Sardinia has never really considered itself “conquered”. Even now, Sardinia is an independent region of Italy, much like Puerto Rico is to the United States.
This isolation has protected the cultures of Sardinia — rather ironically, a mix of cultures associated with peoples who invaded or were invaded by Sardinia — as well as the gene pool within the island from outside influences that could weaken the social or physical health of the island and her people.
During the pandemic, the island was relatively easy to isolate. Lockdown rules were very strictly enforced, both for residents and for those attempting to visit the island before and during the lockdown. The Polizia turned away planes and ferries full of visitors attempting to relocate to their second houses at the start of the lockdown and ticketed any locals violating isolation rules. The lockdown was so successful that Sardinia had relatively few cases of the virus. This has been good news to the Sardinians, as they wanted to ensure island would be be virus-free and support a 2020 tourist season — not just for the health of the Sardinian economy, but for the well-being of the visitors seeking relief from months of isolation.
Even before the government issued regulations stating the regulations for restaurants, stores, beaches, hotels, and agriturismi (working farms that offer guest accommodations and restaurants serving their own home-made regional specialities), the proprietors were working to ensure facilities were cleaned and sanitized; staff would be trained in increased hygienic measures, and methods to maintain social distancing would be instituted.
In addition, Sardinian government officials anticipate a tourist entry plan that will require visitors to obtain a “health passport”, a document that certifies each person entering Sardinia tests negative for the Cornavirus. The testing and health passport/certificate will eliminate any requirement for quarantine for incoming visitors.
The tourist’s cost for taking the test will reimbursed by giving them coupons for free or reduced-cost services, such as hotel stays, entry to museums, tourist attractions, and so forth.
These measures are an extension of the care and graciousness Sardinian hosts extend for their guests’ comfort, enjoyment, safety, and health.
All in all, if you want to take a healthful vacation to restore yourself in body, mind, and spirit, my recommendation is that you visit Sardinia. I’ve spent much time on the island, and could write much more than I have above — but you need to feel it for yourself.
When you go to Sardinia, follow these guidelines for your own health, the health of others, and to be a conscientious traveler!
I believe an open, positive mind supports a traveler, and most certainly supports our immune system and mental and physical health. Bring these qualities with you to Sardinia, and experience what the island offers in terms of health — and more!
© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved
“Sardinia is an island you cannot ignore. After visiting it, you will carry a memory in your heart that leaves you with a nostalgia and a strange sensation, veiled with a sad yearning for something missing: It’s the Sardinia sickness.”
“La Sardegna è un’isola che non si può fare a meno di conoscere. Dopo che la si sarà visitata, si porterà nel cuore un ricordo che alimenta un sottile fil di nostalgia, e una strana sensazione, velata di struggente malinconia, di qualcosa che manca: è il mal di Sardegna.”
These are the famous words on the last page of the ubiquitous* Sardinian calendars published by R. Balzano Edizioni.
The calendars are requisite items when you leave the island.
And yes, the Sardinian sickness is real, affecting some of us exactly as described.
#sardegnanelcuore #missingsardinia #mimancasardegna #vacaggisardegna #vacationsardinia
*Ubiquitous in the airports, bookstores, and tourist stores. Come to the center of the island and the lesser-known spots and you’ll see other sites!
© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved