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Sa Pintadera

Sa Pintadera is a circular clay disk with geometric motifs engraved on one facade, converging towards the centre, almost a primitive Mandala, as the Pintadera actually recalls the magnetic Mandala designs of Buddhist and Hindu culture representing the universe, meaning "of round shape” or “disk” referring to the Sun and the Moon. 

They were called "Pintaderas" because some were provided with a handle, as if they were a suitable tool for marking something. The term derives from the Spanish pintado, (painted) applied to tools used to impress decorative engravings on fabrics, sweetmeats, bread or even on the skin as a tattoo.

The Pintaderas have been found throughout Sardinia, and vary between 6 and 18 cm in diameter and 1 cm thick. It is one of the most important archaic symbols of Nuragic Sardinia. The past of Sardinia is hidden in Sa Pintadera, and there are many hypotheses on the use of these decorative moulds or special stamps.

Elisabetta Frau, archaeologist and director of the “Sa domu nostra” museum in Senorbi, about 40 km from Cagliari, explains that the Pintaderas «on the basis of context analysis and thanks to ethnographic comparisons ascribable to popular traditions, are commonly interpreted as decorative tools for bread». The loaves of bread brought by offerers, decorated with motifs similar to the ones of the Pintaderas, present in the Nuragic Bronze Statuettes would prove this theory. It is precisely the act of offering that suggests the existence of a bread ceremony. And, still assuming, the bread marked with the decor was part of the ancestral ceremonies, sacred women prerogative, custodians of knowledge and rituals. And again, Dr. Frau also has another hypothesis: "The Pintadera found near the Nuragic village of S’Urbale, associated with the equipment used daily for weaving, may indicate their possible use as stamps for fabrics". 

Some other scholars, however, go for a more glorious past, reading instead in those mysterious finds a lunar or solar time-marking calendars use. And in fact, some call the Pintadera “s'Arroda de tempu, the wheel of time, whose information contains the secret of the day and night rotation. We know that among the ancient societies it was very important determining the dates during the year. In Sardinia the nuraghi also had astronomical functions, an interesting theory subsequent to their disposition, in the territory, in alignment with the stars. Theory deduced it from the positioning of the openings, some towards south, others towards the rising of the Sun during the solstices. And the ones dedicated to the Moon cult, called wells of the Moon, in which every 18.6 years our satellite is mirrored at midnight the days of December and the beginning of January; among the best preserved is the Nuragic Complex Of Santa Cristina In Paulilatino

Having become the logo of Banco di Sardegna since 1986 for its profound meaning of Sardinity, the Pintadera has become a jewel in both pastry and goldsmithing, or a terracotta amulet, as a good omen encouraging the desire to bring its past to light.

[…] And the whispering of voices that tell the stories of a place. Or the description of the Pintadera, an archaeological finding with many meanings and which in turn refers to other things, between myth and truth [...]  (Anonymous)

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Written by Daniela Toti

Photo from "Arte Nuragica" website

 

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