Clothing and Jewellery
The costume is one of the most important expressions of Sardinian culture, comprising a rich array of garments, particularly for women. They are not a luxury item to wear only on special occasions, however; up to the ’50s-’60s at least, it was the attire for all, the everyday clothing, and is still worn today by the elderly people in the villages of the hinterland. Little is known about the origin of the costumes.
The women’s costumes currently in use, though, differ from the traditional ones in terms of lines, decorative elements, colours and fabrics. This is especially true for the coastal areas, while the clothing of the mountain people, for example the people of the Barbagia region, are closer to tradition, based on simple garments with an authentic flavour.
Men’s costumes seem to be more rooted in Sardinian culture. The typical man’s attire is composed of just a few elements that are common throughout the island. Related primarily to the needs of men’s work, herding in particular, the attire is very basic. In the use of lambskin, the footwear, sheepskin jacket, overalls beret, it is similar to that of the ancient inhabitants of the island. The sheepskin jacket, made with rough animal skins and typically worn year-round by Sardinian shepherds, is considered to be one of the most ancient garments commonly used throughout the Mediterranean.
Jewellery-making is one of the most refined expressions of artisan work in Sardinia. Jewellery is strictly tied to Sardinian costumes, integrating and completing them as decorative elements, including necklaces, chains, pendants, amulets and other ornaments in general. On official occasions, Sardinian women always wear all the jewellery with their costumes. Jewellery production in Sardinia varies from province to province and has always been influenced by imports from the continent. For this reason, it is difficult to catalogue the jewellery work and divide it into categories that are homogeneous by style or by origin. Nonetheless, Sardinian jewellery-making has assimilated the techniques of the Mediterranean schools, reaching high levels of quality.
A good example is filigree work. Imported to Sardinia from important schools such as those of Sicily, Campania, Abruzzo, and Tuscany, it reached a characterisation typical of the island tastes. Few regions, in fact, produce filigree jewellery with the precision of detail and intricacy as that produced in Sardinia. Small objects in silver are another characteristic product of Sardinian jewellery art: perfume bottles, magical symbols against the evil eye, objects of the feminine toilette, including the so-called spuligadentes, worn hung on the silver belts that adorn the corsets.