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 our country's history flow through the mute epic of shepherds and transhumant herds 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 in the past it was a formidable economic driving force for the internal territories, so important that it had had legislative regulation starting from the 1447 when King Alfonso I of Aragon established the Mena delle Pecana Customs in Puglia, with which he it made transhumance mandatory for those who had more than 20 sheep. Since then the pastoral civilization has built itself with fatigue, the eternal repetition of acts, gestures, rites, and has built an economic, cultural, territorial settlement system, complex and articulated, often in dialectical contrast with agriculture, which will end up succumbing only at the beginning of the '900 when the pastures of the Tavoliere di Puglia will be freed from the constraints that had prevented its cultivation. The pastoral world in hundreds of years has left footprints on the lands that the flocks crossed, has generated uses, customs, social hierarchies, production chains connected to wool and dairy products, juridical procedures, objects, cults and sacred rituals with figures of venerated saints, like Michael the Archangel, and a rich and multi-faceted system of knowledge of which we are all heirs and custodians. If the actual transhumance no longer exists, there is however sheep-rearing, for which today more than ever we need to talk about a herd enterprise, tenaciously wanted by entrepreneurs, shepherds, operators who with 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 that instead can be inserted in alternative tourist circuits capable of enhancing our region in all its aspects. The pastoral civilization that in Italy has assumed the peculiar forms of transhumance, the seasonal movement of shepherds and flocks substantially in two limited periods of the year, between the mountains of the Apennines and the pastures of the Tavoliere di Puglia, in Iran, ancient Persia , it is still today, as in past centuries, authentically nomadic. In a vast country, large 5 times Italy, until now isolated from the rest of the world due to political and historical events but today engaged in an opening process in which Italy is a precocious and attentive protagonist, coexist cultural aspects, ways of life , traditions, uses, ways of thinking, still profoundly ancient, but also extraordinary yeasts of modernity, especially in large urban areas, where millions of people of different ethnicity live. In the central semi-desert 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 throughout 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. The northern Talyshs build wooden huts, stones and mud to protract from the rigors of the mountain climate, and in some cases they become resident farmers of rice and tea, the Qashqai erect dark curtains lined inside with their multicolored carpets and fabrics. Both "wool peoples" have maintained their peculiar physiognomy and cultural identity even within modern Iran.

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

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