Mamoiada. A Sardinian village in the heart of the Barbagia.

The Territory

Territory and microclimate
Mamoiada has about 2600 inhabitants and is situated in the heart of the Barbagia of Ollolai, about 16 km away from the provincial capital Nuoro and only a few kilometres from the Gennargentu, the Supramonte and the most popular tourist locations. It borders on the territories of Fonni, Gavoi, Ollolai, Sarule, Orani, Nuoro and Orgosolo. Its territory extends on a total of 4.903 hectares and is located on hills at an average altitude of ca. 736 m.a.s.l. Besides viticulture - Mamoiada counts 5 wineries - the main branches of production are: sheep-breeding and the well-known production of bread and pastries. The Cannonau cultivation area is about 270 ha. The microclimate is mild, with rainfalls and some snow in winter, some rain in early spring and hot and dry in summer.
Considerable differences in night and day temperatures during the period before grape harvest guarantee a good phenolic structure of the grapes. The soils of Mamoiada are mainly composed of decayed granite, they are sandy with small amounts of clay and humus. Due to these characteristics they are poor in nitrogen and we can notice high levels of potassium and phosphor.


Mamoiada, a village with rich history and traditions, is situated in a valley full of water sources and extremely fertile. And this is probable why in ancient times (from the Neolithic age onwards) people have chosen to settle down in these area. When talking about menhirs and the first human settlements in Sardinia it should not be forgotten to mention the stele “Sa Perda Pintà”, decorated with cup and ring marks, typical symbols which we also know from Ireland, Scotland, France and South America.
The existence of this type of stele is unique in Sardinia even if we have found two other stone slabs with similar decorations in the territory of Mamoiada. The most important tombs found in the territory of Mamoiada are certainly Orgurù and Istevene. In the main chamber of the last one a bull head protome is engraved on a pillar.
Beside the two monuments smaller tombs have been found throughout the territory of Mamoiada, which are also interesting and worth seeing, as for example the Ovau tomb or the domus di Sir’oni e Sa I’u Ruvia. Close to the Orgurù tomb stands the nuraghe of the same name, which overlooks the Lidana-Marhine plain. And heading for the sanctuary of the Saints Cosma and Damiano we can find numerous nuraghi such as the Lidana, Janna Todde or Travessu nuraghe.


Sanctuaries and monuments
SS Cosma and Damiano is one of the oldest sanctuaries in the Barbagia. The church and the celebrations in honour of the martyr saints Cosma and Damiano are the most important religious points of reference for the people of Mamoiada. San Cosimo dates back to the 7th century after Christ and is the oldest one in the Barbagia. The cumbessie complex around the church (cumbessie are small rooms arranged in an circle around the church and used as accommodation for the pilgrims coming here for the novena) is built in the tradition of the Greek religious architecture; in the course of the centuries the cumbessie have been altered, enlarged and renovated several times. Even the church has been amplified at last three times and lengthened in an unique way: the basement is built descending towards the main entrance. The novena and the celebrations in honour of the saints are organized by a committee of believers that takes care of the maintenance of the structure and plans all festivities under direction of the parish priest.
Of particular importance among the buildings of Mamoiada is certainly the church of Our Lady of Loreto with its imposing cupola. It’s situated in the heart of the village and must have been built before 1600 even if the exact origins not are clear yet. The well “Su ‘Antaru Vetzu” (The old well), in the upper part of the village, dates back to the Roman period. It is situated near the ancient district of “Su ‘Astru” (Castrum), which in ancient times has probably been a Roman stronghold; in fact Mamoiada was crossed by the ancient road “Ulbiam-Caralis”.


Among the old traditions which are still kept up today, we should not forget to mention the masks of the Mamuthones and Issohadores. They make their first annual appearance on 17th January during the celebrations in honour of the patron St Anthony. On this occasion they parade along numerous fires set off by the Mamoiadini (inhabitants of Mamoiada). It is a tradition which dates back to the most ancient times, probably rooted in propitiation rites of the rural population performed during the winter solstice. And it's in occasion of this celebrations that the new wine and typical sweets (Su Popassinu biancu e nigheddu, Sas Cashetta, Su Coccone ‘in mele) are tasted. Saint Anthony’s Day marks the official beginning of the traditional Carnival, a tradition which involves all people of Mamoiada as much as the typical dance “Su passu Torrau”, which is called, also by the inhabitants of the nearby villages, “su ballu mamujadinu” (dance of Mamoiada).
Every year on Carnival masquerades take place and people dance on the streets dressed in traditional costumes. And Juvanne Martis, a kind of puppet, appears at dusk after having been driven on a barrow around the village by a group of men dressed up as women. His death on Tuesday night represents the end of the Carnival of Mamoiada.


Between 550 and 238 before Christ, the period of the Carthaginian invasion of Sardinia, the history of Mamoiada is also the history of the “mountain dwellers, always ready to rebel against the foreign conquerors”. In historical documents from local archives we can find the following versions of toponyms for Mamoiada: Marmoiada, Mamoyata, Mamujata; and in recent times Mamojada. Due to its strategic position (located at the north-south thoroughfare and along the “Ulbiam-Caralis”) Mamoiada was considered an interesting stronghold by the Romans. And in fact, the name of the ancient district “Su hastru”, situated in the upper part of the village, goes back to the Roman term Castrum. That is how the Romans called their small strongholds. Around the 11th century Mamoiada belonged to the Giudicato di Arborea and afterwards it was part of the Curatoria della Barbaia di Ollolai (administrative district). During the long period of Aragonese domination (1324-1720) the King of Spain Ferdinand V. assigned Mamoiada and other towns in the area of Nuoro to Pietro of Arborea.

In 1604 it was incorporated into the Ducato di Mandas (Duchy of Mandas), a fief which belonged first to the Mazzas family and later to the Tellez-Giron family. In 1820, during the domination of the House of Savoy, feudalism was officially abolished by the Editto delle Chiudente (enclosure edict) which allowed even to the common people to become owners of land. But for different reasons, almost the entire land of Mamoiada was enclosed by the nobles of the village. With the end of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in the year 1847 and during the Italian unification Mamoiada, together with the rest of Sardinia and the Italian mainland, adapted themselves to the new political situation and the various socio-economic developments and changes which are still going on today.


Se vuoi approfondire visita i seguenti link
Mamuthones e Issohadores sito ufficiale museo maschera
Mamuthones di Mamoiada
Mamuthones (eventi)


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