The Janas 0 Comments
We have already mentioned them in many articles, as Treasures of magic origin: the "Janas" of Sardinia and in Domus De Janas Of Malghesi: A Fairy House, but who actually were the Janas?
Sardinian tradition has interpreted the Domus de Janas, these prehistoric underground vaults, as the Janas’s houses, tiny fairy belonging to tales, almost as if the spirits of ancestors turned out to be the mysterious fairies over the centuries.
Nocturnal creatures that only came out of the Domus at night so that the sun wouldn’t irritate their delicate skin, taking the light from the moon to shine, giving off a light so powerful that whoever laid eyes on them would have become dazzled. Beautiful and enchantresses, kind, mischievous, shy but sometimes even terrible (Mala Janas), lived in the woods of Sardinia and wore red-purple dresses and shawls embroidered with gold filaments, headdresses embroidered with silver threads and precious gold collars around their neck. They were benevolent fairies for children and for the pure of heart, ready to transform themselves into witches against the corrupt and harassing ones. Of dual nature now benevolent now malevolent, a little witch and a little fairy, both kind and mischievous.
The name Jana perhaps arises from the name of the night goddess Diana, whose emblem is the crescent moon. But Janas is also a Sanskrit word meaning Knowledge, and they had a lot of it.
They were supposed to be prophetesses as they believed that the fate of the newborn depended on them, so much so that in many Sardinian towns of a lucky or an unfortunate person it is still said today: est affadáda beni/mali de is Janas (was given the good or evil from the Janas).
In addition to being skilled weavers on looms with which they intertwined gold threads, they cultivated wheat and prepared "de su Pani Finu" (fine bread, Carasau bread) which they taught how to make, to Sardinian women apparently previously 1000 BC, during the Bronze Age.
It is believed that traditional Sardinian medicine was born with them, made of preparations and ointments based on herbs, as the Janas were also experts in using herbs and ointments which they utilised to heal many ailments.
They were also teachers of "ballu tundu" (traditional dance of Sardinian ceremonies) and legend says that their disappearance took place just after an evening spent dancing with the inhabitants of a small village near Macomer, who, taking advantage of the light-heartedness of a Jana while she was dancing, they stole the gold buttons on her bodice. From that moment the Janas, realising that greed and malice had also reached the good Sardinian people, decided to disappear forever leaving their carved into the rock houses.
In the many legends that tell of the Janas, the aspect of their special bond with the Earth, their respect and love for nature prevails, an invitation to follow.
They are little creatures, albeit ambivalent, who even today easily live in our most childish imagination. Following the legends, in some secluded places of magical Sardinia, paying close attention, it is still possible to meet them…
“My dream, as a child, was to visit these domos de Janas and be able to penetrate them: but since they are far from the town, mostly in deserted and rocky places, it wasn't easy.” (Matilde Serao)
Written by Daniela Toti