May 2010 - Fossalto, Molise, Italy
Raw clips from a traditional event held in the village of Fossalto, Molise, in the foot-hills of the Appenines - about 250km SE of Rome.
The bagpipes have been played by shepherds in the Molise and Abruzzo mountains for centuries and are part of a strong local tradition. At Christmas-time these pipers, called "zampognari", come down to Rome and play carols in the streets and squares.
The bagpipes are individually hand-made, respecting traditions which define not only what materials to use and how to prepare them, but also exactly at what times of year each step in the production must be executed in order to get the right result.
The strange green cone in this video is almost certainly a pre-Christian tradition. The cross at the head of the cone and other aspects of the "Pagliara Maje-Maje" (the "May-May Haystack"...) show that the church chose to "integrate" a pagan tradition rather than repress it. Somewhere I read that similar traditions exist on the other side of the Adriatic, in Slovenia; wonder if the English may-pole tradtion might have some common root.
The "haystack" stops in front of chosen households, sings a verse, and has water thrown onto it - clearly a fertility rite. Carrying the cone is hot and heavy work - as you can see towards the end.
By strange coincidence I caught on video one of my very few Flickr contacts - Rowena "Rubber Slippers in Italy" - and her partner and their two dogs. Rowena is from Hawaii and I had no idea either that she would be there, nor indeed that it was her. We had guests with us that week-end from Japan - so it seemed quite an international week-end in Molise.
Some photos of the event here: