“I felt ashamed”

Women have always been powerful in Sardinia compared to other regions in Southern Italy. Sardinia is said to be the only Italian region with ancient matriarchy. The most famous women in Sardinia is  Eleonora d’Arborea, who in the 14th century defeated Spanish invaders and composed the Carta de Logu, a body of laws which came into force in April 1395. They were considered to be far in advance of the laws of other countries, the penalty for most crimes being a fine, and the property rights of women being preserved. Another famous women is Nobel Price Winner Grazia Deledda, born in the late 19th century. Her most famous novel is “Canne al Vento”, about a young women and rebel to her father’s strict rules.

But why have women in Sardinian been traditionally more powerful ? The most reasonable explanation is that during winter all male members of the family left their houses for months to walk with their herds of sheep to warmer regions. (“Trasumanza”). This seasonal movement made it necessary for women to run the daily business alone, taking important decisions for the family and the income, producing and selling  products from sheep like cheese or traditionally hand made carpets.

Nevertheless traditional society protected young women from being “dishonored” by strangers. So men were afraid to infringe unwritten laws. This is why the man in the picture above experienced difficulties when working for the first time with female colleagues in a Hotel in the early 70ties. “I tried to pass them without getting noticed”, he said. “I was afraid and also felt ashamed, the situation for me was uncomfortable. Until one day one of my female colleagues said to me: ‘Ziu Boicu, you can’t go on like this. Or you stop being afraid or you have to quit this job’. Then I made up my mind and the next season I came over it”.