Peoples and Terre della Lana. The photo exhibition in Matera

Traditions, Cultures and Looks; On the paths of Transhumance

Along the fragile, yet persistent, network of sheep tracks that marks the landscapes of southern Italy, hundreds of years of history of our country flow, through the silent epic of shepherds and transhumant flocks that following the rhythms of nature, in September and May, they moved from the mountains to the sea and vice versa, in search of their livelihood. Pastoralism is an ancient phenomenon and was in the past a formidable economic driving force for the internal territories, so important that it had legislative regulation starting from 1447 when King Alfonso I of Aragon established the Customs of the sheepmeat in Puglia, with which made transhumance compulsory for those with more than 20 sheep. Since then, pastoral civilization has built itself with fatigue, the eternal repetition of acts, gestures, rites, and has built a complex and articulated economic, cultural, territorial settlement system, often in dialectic contrast with agriculture, which will end up succumbing only at the beginning of the 900th century when the pastures of the Tavoliere di Puglia will be freed from the constraints that had prevented their cultivation. The pastoral world in hundreds of years has left footprints on the lands that the flocks crossed, it has generated customs, social hierarchies, production chains connected to wool and milk derivatives, legal procedures, objects, cults and sacred rituals with figures of venerated saints, such as Michael the Archangel, and a rich and multifaceted system of knowledge of which we are all heirs and custodians. If the real transhumance no longer exists, however, there is pastoralism, for which today more than ever we must speak of a herding enterprise, tenaciously desired by entrepreneurs, shepherds, operators who with a conscious and strongly identifying choice continue ancient traditions with the ways and means of contemporaneity, giving rise to productions of excellence. This new generation of "resilient" shepherds is also bringing back to life places and territorial districts that economic and cultural globalization neglects and which can instead be included in alternative tourist circuits able to enhance our region in all its aspects. The pastoral civilization that in Italy has taken on the peculiar forms of transhumance, the seasonal movement of shepherds and flocks substantially in two limited periods of the year, between the Apennine mountains and the pastures of the Tavoliere di Puglia, in Iran, ancient Persia , is still today, as in past centuries, authentically nomadic. In an immense country, 5 times the size of Italy, so far isolated from the rest of the world due to political and historical events but today engaged in a process of opening in which Italy is an early and attentive protagonist, cultural aspects, ways of life coexist , traditions, customs, ways of thinking, still deeply ancient, but also extraordinary leaven of modernity, especially in large urban realities, where millions of people of different ethnic groups live. In the semi-desert central highlands or in the northern mountains, often rich in vegetation and water, the nomads Qashqai and Talysh, two of the migrant groups that still populate modern Iran, still move in the lands of their ancestors, according to the ancestral rhythms of Nature. . Both ethnic groups raise sheep, their main means of livelihood, from which they make milk and wool. With the latter, women make fabrics and carpets that have made Persia known all over the world. Tenaciously attached to their traditions and their customs, migrant peoples move into compact communities, men, women, children, old people, sometimes on blue cars, indestructible vehicles on which they load all their belongings, which have recently joined animals by transport. Qashqai they erect dark curtains lined inside with their multicolored carpets and fabrics. Both "peoples of wool" have maintained their peculiar physiognomy and their cultural identity even within modern Iran.


8-24 NOVEMBER 2019
Via San Bartolomeo, 46
Inauguration: 8 November 2019 h18: 30

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