In an isolated village in the mountains of Sardinia, women’s dresses are acting as a social code. The colours, the needlework and the materials used to create traditional Sardinian dresses tell the stories of these women’s lives, and Andrea Pecora’s short film “Desula” has recently unravelled this rich social history. It’s said, to this day, that some women even wear the same dress for every day of their lives.
The women in this village are taught to spin wool, use the loom, weave wool and embroider from when they are just little girls. The colours in particular are important signs that represent the wearer’s stage in life. Red, for example, along with other bold colours are worn on joyous occasions that act as significant markers in a person’s life; a wedding day for example. Similarly, colours are darkened when the owner of the dress is in mourning; the women don black, for instance, after the loss of a partner. For the poorer women in the village who can’t afford one colourful dress and one dark, they make their dresses reversible.
Often starting the making process as adolescents, it often takes around a year of a person’s life to make one of these dresses, and sometimes some women continue to decorate and dye their garments for their entire lives. If one woman who is in mourning happens to have cause for celebration, she can reverse some of the dark colours of her dresses using natural substances to dye the wool. Wearing these dresses from as early as the first week of their births, these women are the last of their community to continue this local tradition. To them, these clothes provide a connection their ancestors in a way like no other in 2017.