How can we talk about Putignano without telling about its Carnival which keeps most of the citizenship busy for almost eight months a year? For the people of Putignano, Carnival is a serious matter.
The rites, the Mardi Gras floats, the farinella
The construction of the papier-mâché allegorical floats that parade through the streets of the town on the three Sundays of the Carnival and on the evening of Mardi Gras, requires a lot of work and the period in which the papier-mache masters and their workshops can engage in the realization of these “giants” , is established by the Carnival Foundation.
“The sketch of the wagon is presented that every year must respect the chosen theme” – explained us in his shed during the preparation of his float one of the veterans of the trade, the papier-mâché master Domenico Impedovo.
This year for the theme “Satire and freedom” the tankers really indulged themselves and gave vent to all their imagination. But before telling you about our participation with lots of press passes to the parade lived among the gigantic papier-mâché floats, character masks and masked groups, we want to tell you more about the Carnival of Putignano, which represents one of the most colorful and fascinating traditions of the South Italy.
This is the longest Carnival in the world as it begins on December 26th with the “Propaggini” ritual, and the longest in Europe because the tradition originated in 1394, when the relics of Santo Stefano were moved from Monopoli to the church of Santa Maria la Greca. Legend has it that during the transfer some peasants joined the sacred procession with dances, songs and verses that are still proposed today no longer to propitiate a good harvest as it used to be, but as satirical and biting criticism towards the representatives of the institutions.
On the same day there is the “Exchange of the candle” which during the solemn procession is offered in memory of the ancient gesture of devotion but also of submission to ingratiate the clergy and make them forgive the sins committed during the carnival period. Among the Propaggini and the first Masquerade Course, the Carnival unfolds through the Thursday celebrations. Their number varies according to the date on which Easter falls but they are never more than seven. Thursdays involve adults and children with traveling shows, music and various events. They begin on January 17th with the feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot and each one is dedicated to a different category of people: monsignors, priests, nuns, widows and widowers, crazy as the young men who are not married are called and cuckold, ie married men.
But the celebrations, which reach their peak in the parades of the seven allegorical floats during the Masked Courses, certainly do not end with these. The program of events begins on February 2, Candlemas day, with the traditional appointment with the Bear Festival, linked to the rural world and which according to some beliefs is linked to the exit of the bear from the den by the end of winter.
On the penultimate day of Carnival, on the other hand, a fake priest imparts the Extreme Unction to the dying Carnival, using a wet broom in the water contained in a chamber pot, while the participants walk through the streets of the town stopping in all public places and in the cellars involving those present. Among the manifestations there is also the Ndondaro (the noise), one of the most ancient rites, during which in the early afternoon of Carnival Tuesday a colorful crowd of masked citizens armed with pots, lids, musical instruments and other tools, causes deafening noises swarming for the “Chiancata”.
Also on Tuesday, after the parade of floats, the Carnival Funeral is celebrated which winds through the town with the wife of the “dead” who receives condolences and sets fire to her husband’s puppet. It closes with the Maccheroni Bell: an hour before midnight, the bell of the Mother Church begins to slowly scan 365 chimes, one for each day of the year, to remember that the time of the holidays is over and that of penitence begins. Then you eat the macaroni with tomato sauce with sausage and we dance until two officiating jokers sprinkle the head of those present with ashes. This is the start of Lent, a period of penance that precedes Easter.
Taking a step back, we return to the parades. To open the passage of Farinella, the symbolic mask of the Carnival of Putignano. Conceived in the 1950s by the graphic designer Domenico Castellano, it takes its name from an ancient poor food from the rural world, a flour of barley and roasted chickpeas crushed in a stone mortar, called in dialect “a povl” (the powder), which was consumed together with dried figs from the farmers. Still today it is customary to consume it in various ways and it can be purchased in Putignano in the homonymous shop where Paolo Campanella still prepares it as it once did.
Behind Farinella masked groups and character masks parade, the small papier-mâché works that challenge the “giants”, “disturbed” during the procession by the Lo Tumulo Brothers with their “black humor”. And this year, along the masked route, there will also be space for animal friends, with Dog Village, for many useful tips for the education of the dog, and “4zampe on the catwalk” a special fashion show, organized by the association SOS Adozioni4zampe onlus.
Then finally they, the seven wagons protagonists of this 625th edition of the Putignano Carnival: La Révolution Italienne, Towards freedom, Who is without sin cast the first apple, The Whack Shack, Italian Dream Freedom to … change, Freedom in storm and and finally The Wall – Nightmares of the past.
Winners of this edition, first and foremost is the faithful reproduction of the famous painting “Il Bacio” by Klimt, by Deni Bianco, author of the wagon “Who is without sin cast the first apple” where two men exchange them to reaffirm the freedom of expressing love in all its forms, as the master himself explained to us by showing us the miniature in the shed.
In second place “Towards the freedom” of Carta e Colore by the masters Vito and Paolo Mastrangelo and in the third “The Wack Shack” by Chiaro e Tondo by Domenico Galluzzi, this year’s new entry among papier-mâché masters.
Exciting to walk among the leaders of the government in giant format, the premier Giuseppe Conte and his deputies Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, protagonists of the works “Italian dream”, proposed by the association Con le mani, and “La revolution italienne” of the association Carta Bianca.
But also among the tentacles of the enigmatic protagonist of the “Freedom in storm” of Carta in festa by Lello Nardelli and at the foot of the wall of The Wall – Nightmares from the past, which is inspired by the famous song by Pink Floyd, from La maschera by Domenico Impedovo.
The art of Putignan papier-mâché was also the subject of the exhibition “The spectacle of papier-mâché – exhibition of sketches and artifacts from the Putignano Carnival”, at the Principe Guglielmo Romanazzi Carducci di Santo Mauro Museum, an opportunity to discover an ancient art rich in traditions, creativity and passions.