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

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. 

###

Understanding and Protecting Italian Food and Culinary Heritage: What DOP and Other Designations Mean

Italian Food Classifications and Labels

The Heritage

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.

Food Classes Explained 

The primary food classifications are DOP, IGP, and STG. 

DOP — Denominazione di origine protetta (Protected Designation of Origin)

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. 

IGP — Identificazione geografica protetta (Protected Geographical Indication)

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”

STG — Specialità tradizionale garantite (Guaranteed Traditional Speciality)

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”

Wine Classifications Explained

A different system is used for wine. These classifications were rolled into the DOC classification in 2010. 

IGT — Indicazione geografica tipico (Typical Geographical Indication)

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.

DOC — Denominazione di origine controllata (Designation of Origin Controlled)

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.

DOCG — Denominazione origine controllata garantita (Designation of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed)

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. 

Classifying Textiles

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!

Food Classification Sources

AltroConsumo

Wikipedia’s article on DOP, IGP, STG and IG Italian Products

Appreciating Cardo

Cardo

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?

“No. Cardo.”

“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.

“Cardo.”

THISTLE!  

“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!

Handweaving in Aggius, Sardinia: Short Video

Here’s a short video featuring traditional Aggius handweaver Gabriella Lutzu working in her studio L’Albero Padre.

Music: Vivaldi – Concerto in C Major for Oboe and Orchestra andante by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under an Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Downloaded from freemusicarchive.org. 

For more information, see these pages:

This map shows where Aggius is located in Sardinia.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

The Fairies Who Taught Women to Weave

In Sardinia, handweaving is an ancient and revered art, one so complex and magical that legends say the Jana (fairies) taught Sardinian women how to construct looms and weave.

The version below is translated from the story as written by Bruna Cossu and posted on her Facebook page Brujana. With her permission, I’ve translated her words and posted both the English and Italian versions on this website.

Once upon a time, an eternal god was flying through infinity. The god was omnipotent yet also very bored. It seemed to him that the greatest happiness would be to have desires. He began to search for Earth and humans, because he knew that humans were the best suited to dream the impossible. 

However, once he found Earth, he discovered that humans had not learned to dream. The planet’s population was like a swarm of ants: the men fought amongst themselves and sought to complicate their lives in all ways, yet they had not learned to dream. They did everything except dream. 

Then the god, determined, said: “I will be the first man to dream”. He searched all over the earth for an uninhabited place where he could live alone, and he found it in a small island in the the shape of a footprint: Sardinia. This island was still wild, full of rocks. The god concentrated and made himself into a man, but he chose to make himself old, because in order to have desires, he would have to make effort.

On the island, he had at his disposal stones, cork trees, and a swarm of bees that followed him everywhere. Understanding the nature of what he had available, he assembled it: With simple human arms, he constructed the first hive, thus solving the issue of hunger. 

One day, while sleeping, the god was disturbed by a bee. With an involuntary swipe of his hand, he shooed away the bee. However, in doing so, the god let fly a spark of divine power. In one instant, the entire hive was transformed into a group of incredibly small goddesses: The Janas were born. 

These Janas occupied the human dimension by pretending to be women — and being prophets by nature, they knew that human women would soon arrive on the island. In the meantime, the Janas dug houses out of the rocks and furnished them, always play-pretending at being women in the same way young girls play at being women.

One day, the first human ship arrived on the horizon, from an uncertain location, and bearing an unknown people. It was a rude group, wild, a bunch of warriors. The Janas immediately became interested in the women and flew among their heads, convincing them to leave the heavy work to the men. 

In this way, women finally entered the world of the Janas, where the women learned to spin and to weave at looms prepared by the fairies who had been bees — fairies who had an innate, genetic understanding of geometry, and who constructed looms with extreme rigor and precision. And the women themselves brought an essential quality: Patience. Working together, the rigor of the Janas and the patience of the women fostered the ideal conditions for the birth of creativity. 

And so was the beginning of how Sardinian women came to weave their rhythmic, symbolic textiles, weaving even today as they did then.

Sources: 

Note: Sardinia’s tessitrici artigianali — the women weavers who work by hand in the old ways — are truly extraordinary, and rare. Only a handful remain working as professionals on the island. Learn more about these unique, independent, and wonderful women on the Sardinian Arts page Meet the Artists, which is a portal to their work and contact information.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

NY Times’ T Magazine Article Featuring the Frongias

On September 13, 2018, The New York Times’ T Magazine published How Sardinian Weaving Nearly Became a Lost Art, featuring Isa Frongia, Susanna Frongia, and Anna Maria Pirastu.

I’m thrilled that awareness grows about the handweavers and their art, as this helps build a sustainable future for handweaving and handweavers in Sardinia! I was also happy to learn that the article was in great part inspired by my documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time.

The direct link to the article is https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/t-magazine/sardinian-weaving-woven-textiles.html.

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

Weaving Terms

This is one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in 2017. The poster is first, followed by the text.

There’s certainly much more to discuss about this topic — and I expand greatly on this during my live presentations and in articles you’ll find on this site and elsewhere. Sign up for the newsletter to stay connected!

The loom is the framework on which weavings are made. The basic fibers of a weaving are known as the warp, or foundational threads, and the weft, or the fibers that are drawn between the warp threads.

Textile patterns and designs are created by the interactions of the warp and weft threads. The weft threads can be passed under and over the warp threads in different sequences, wound to create pibiones, or knotted, twisted, or otherwise worked into, over, or under the warp.

Weavings that use raised techniques such as pibiones display several patterns: the raised design and a subtle background pattern created by the sequencing of warp and weft threads.

Textiles created using use flat techniques generally have vibrant designs created by the color of the weft threads.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Loom Types

This is one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in 2017. The poster is first, followed by the text.

There’s certainly much more to discuss about this topic — and I expand greatly on this during my live presentations and in articles you’ll find on this site and elsewhere. Sign up for the newsletter to stay connected!

There are many different classifications and types of looms, generally referring to how the movements of the loom are made and the structure of the loom.

Traditional hand looms are powered entirely by hand and foot. Power looms are those in which movements are powered by hydraulic or electric means. Weavers can stop the motion of a powerloom to add hand decoration to a weaving, and then engage the loom’s automated power function to continue. Mills use large computerized electric or hydraulic looms that require little to no human interaction to create many identical items within a short time.

There are two primary configurations of looms: horizontal and vertical. Weavers using vertical looms start from the bottom of the loom and build the textile upwards, using their fingers to pass weft threads through the warp threads one at a time. The threads are tightened, or beaten, using a small hand beater distinct from the loom.

Horizontal looms are generally more complex than vertical looms, facilitating the construction of pibiones as well as complex repeating warp/weft patterns.

Heddles, or frames that contain needles through which warp fibers are threaded, are controlled by foot pedals, and raise or lower many warp threads at one time. This enables the weaver to pass a wooden shuttle carrying weft thread through the warp, or place a needle around which pibiones are wound on top of the warp threads. The threads are tightened using a beater bar that’s attached to the loom and runs the entire width of the warp. The beater bar is moved by hand or electric/hydraulic power.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

History

This is one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in 2017. The poster is first, followed by the text.

There’s certainly much more to discuss about this topic — and I expand greatly on this during my live presentations and in articles you’ll find on this site and elsewhere. Sign up for the newsletter to stay connected!

Looms were prized and essential items in Sardinian households for centuries. Weaving was every woman’s work, and girls learned to weave at a young age. The women wove their corredo, or hope chest textiles, as well as items for daily use and various ceremonial items that were gifted, often prized and used for a lifetime.

After the second world war, power looms and commercial mills began to appear on the island, and production of everyday items started to shift away from the household.

By the late 70’s, almost all of the studios and small shops had switched to using power looms, and items for daily user were made in mills. Today, very few professional handweavers remain.

Similarly, the process of collecting and preparing fibers by hand has virtually disappeared. The preparation of wool, linen, silk, and cotton fibers for weaving was often a communal event.

Today, almost all Sardinian handweavers use fibers that are processed at Sardinia’s one remaining wool processing house, and/or high-quality linen and Egyptian cotton.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved