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Fonni’s Carninval: Urthos and Buttudos
There are two main masks in Fonni: Mascheras Bruttas, dirty, male and animal-like costumes, and Maschera Limpias, clean, feminine costumes. Among the ‘mascheras bruttas’ we find Urthos and Buttudos.
The first mention of the Fonni masks dates back to the 1800’s: “dressed in grotesque old rugs, their faces painted with soot, they amuse themselves running after girls and embracing them, pronouncing satirical verses, in complete freedom…”
According to a source of the last century, “the buttudos, literally ‘ugly men’, once wore cork masks representing demons, to which they applied a fake beard made of wool.
They would roam the streets in groups, shaking bells and rattles. The tallest and strongest men would dress up as “bears”, using sheep and cow skins. They would wear a cork mask too and they were held by a “tamer”, wearing a typical costume and a cork mask…”
Today the cork masks have been replaced by black face paint. The term ‘buttudos’ derives from the word ‘buttudo’, an uncastrated male sheep, while “urthu” means “covered”, juxtaposed to “iscurthu” which means bare, naked. (Mereu 1982)
Today, wearing the black orbace coat, the buttudos have their faces and hands blackened with soot and they wear boots and a bandoleer of bells. They are scary, dirty and noisy figures, gathered in a sort of gang: they perform dangerous acrobatics, climbing the facades of buildings and houses using pipes, windows and balconies. However, they will gladly accept any offering, therefore to appease the noise and intrusion attempts, it is often enough to offer wine, fritters and papassinos di sapa. The chant by a tenor opens and closes the carnival celebrations (Figus 2007).
Shepherds and communities in Fonni. A museum for the history of the pastoral culture
Scuola Sarda Editions
A special thanks to the Association Urthos e Buttudos