There are times, moments, when you feel you have fallen into another, older, wiser life. Walking around the sun-drenched, twisted, cobbled streets of Castelsardo in Sardinia, I turned a corner and glimpsed, through an open doorway, two women weaving baskets & chatting. They glanced up and their smiles drew me in- I could not simply walk by & waste that precious moment!
As my eyes adjusted to the dark, the beauty & skill of their craft became obvious in the myriad coloured bowls on the table and walls. What shone out was the women’s joy at being able to show their craft to someone not simply interested in buying a bowl, but in understanding the technique and the lives of the women who had learnt this craft as children at their mother’s knees. The island is a rich source of the reeds & rushes which have for centuries been woven into containers used in every household and hung from every wall.
The women add vibrant colours and traditional flower & star motives to liven up their homes & bring interest to their work, and now to sell to visitors from far & wide. The island men were weavers too, making plain, unadorned baskets for use at work in the fields or whilst fishing, but the men have dropped this tradition. How many young island women are weavers now? Will they too stop one day?
With no need for words (language barriers are always overcome with smiles & gestures!) my ladies carefully showed me how to start a basket at the centre and weave & coil a spiral of reed, expanding ever outwards with wonderful symmetry. Each basket the result of patient hours of work, not spent in isolation however , but chatting, no doubt of all the latest village scandals!
Each basket has it’s own personality, its own story, as do each of the beautiful Sardinian women I met that day.
They wove for me a story of a traditional lifestyle of which they are proud, a life quietly dedicated to a complex craft, the practice of which brings a joyful peace to each day.
Can we say that we live with such simplicity & peace, and yet with constant companionship & laughter?
Do we yearn for the “old ways”, will they continue?
“Corbule: typical traditional Sardinian basket”