Textiles and Toothpicks: Sardinian Ethnography in Cagliari

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Ethnographic Museum, Museo Etnografico Regionale – Collezione Cocco, Cagliari, Sardinia

Due to its position in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has a unique and interesting culture.  Life along the coast is different to life in the rugged interior of the island, and through everyday items it’s easy to see the tastes and preoccupations of Sardinians across the island.

This collection on show in the heart of Cagliari was assembled by a magistrate, Luigi Cocco (1883-1959), who spent over thirty years assembling objects from around Sardinia.  The objects date mainly from the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, and encompass the visual arts of everyday life: textiles, jewellery, furniture and utensils.

The jewellery is mainly undated, but shows off the popular traditional styles worn by Sardinian women for centuries.  Some items are very simple, others are beautiful.  The fact that most of them served a double purpose of being amulets is particularly interesting.

The amazing textile collection is from central and southern Sardinia and consists of decorated fabrics created for a range of practical purposes: they were used as blankets, chest covers, table covers, saddle bags, decoration… 

Some of the patterns were just too adorable, particularly when they involved horses and people.

So In Summary

The museum has some beautiful textiles and some curious and fun objects that show the ‘everyday’ side to Sardinian life.  It was however disappointing to find quite a few empty cabinets and to have all the information only available in Italian.  It’s a shame, because there’s real potential here to give a proper overview of Sardinian life and traditions – something I was expecting from the museum’s name and indeed its location.  It’s in the Citadel museum complex and therefore you’d have thought that they’d have had a more thorough exhibition, including household objects, furniture or costumes, perhaps, that would have given a broader insight into life on the island.

Basically, if you aren’t too interested in fabrics, and are short of time, then you can probably give this museum a miss.

Further Information

According to information on the internet, the museum was meant to be free.  I was charged.

There is a website, though it’s only in Italian and not very informative: www.isresardegna.it

How to Get There

The museum is by the National Gallery of Art on the Citadel of Museums.  It’s easy to walk there from the old centre of Cagliari, but it is on a steep hill, so you may prefer to take a bus.  The transport website for Cagliari is not very user-friendly for the non-Italian speaker.  So, here is the city’s official transport website: www.ctmcagliari.it – this page has some English information on Cagliari buses generally.  Here is a pdf of the bus map: Mappa della rete pdf

Now you’ve worked out what route you want to take, pop over here for a list of the bus numbers so you can see the schedule of your bus.

Yes, it’s that simple.

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