The mysterious Menhir Sa Perda Pintà (or a pillar of Boeli) is one of the marvelous finds discovered in the town of Mamoiada. The exceptional engraved decorations on the surface were made during the so-called “Ozieri culture” between 3200 and 1800 B.C..
The extraordinary variety and quantity of archaeological remains scattered in the territory reveals how the area was inhabited since Prehistoric times: dated back to the Neolithic the pedras fittas (menhirs), the domus de Janas (graves dug in the rock) and the dolmens, while in the Bronze Age were made the Giants’ Tombs, the Nuraghi and a sacred well, evidence of the great Nuragic civilization.
During the Roman Age near the town past the important military road that crossed the island linking Olbia with Cagliari, passing through the stations of Roman Caput Tyrsi (Buddusò), Sorabile (Fonni) and Biora (Serri). It is believed that the origin of the present village dates back to the foundation of a stop or Roman station name Manubiata which would result from the latin verb manubiare (monitor). In support of this hypothesis it retains some place names such as that of the ancient district on Castru that refers to the latin word castrum i.e. ‘fortified enclosure’.
In the height of the Middle Ages, with the end of the Roman Empire in the West, Sardinia entered the area of policy and culture of the Roman Empire in the East. The Byzantine presence in Mamoiada remained with the worship of the Saints Cosma and Damiano and in the sanctuary dedicated to them a few kilometers South-West of the country.
Todays’ name of the town appears for the first time as “Mamoyata” in medieval documents of Rationes Decimarum in, a register of tithes imposed by the Holy See of the XIV Century. At this time the village was included in “curatorial” of the Barbagia di Ollolai, one of the administrative divisions of the Giudicato of Arborea. The population (descendant of the so-called civitates barbariae that clashed frequently with the Romans for control of lands) enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy and gave warriors for the army.
After the great war of Arborea against the Aragoneses the Giudicessa Eleonora had to sign the Peace Treaty of 1388 with the invaders Iberians. Among the signatories of the peace also include different jurati (jurors) and inhabitants of the villa of Mamujata. With the final conquest the aragonese center was included in the Marquisate of Oristano and when the charge of marquis touch to Leonardo Alagón rekindled the Sardinian revolt against the conquerors. When Alagón was defeated in 1478 Mamoiada was condemned to centuries of exploitation mansion which continued also with subsequent Spanish and Piedmont dominations.
The administration of the feudal lords became increasingly oppressive; in the Eighteenth Century, the inhabitants began their path of liberation from feudal yoke by establishing the Council Magistracy and the Monte Granatico until the final abolition of feudalism in 1838.
In the Twentieth Century the country became famous for its ancient rites of the carnival: since 1951 there have been several studies published on the masks of the Mamuthones and Issohadores recognized as a symbol of Mamoiada in the world.
The intense aromas of the grapes in the environment and territory enrich a landscape full of suggestions in which predominates the screw and the chestnut that cover in warm colors the valley and the hills around the town of Mamoiada.
On fertile lands of granite origin, with a temperate microclimate and high variations between day and night, thrive the vineyards in which renowned wines are obtained, excellent productions of local wineries and important economic resources of the town. In the countryside, in fact, it is put into practice a mountain viticulture with forms of traditional farming in which is preserved the biodiversity of native varieties like the Cannonau and Granazza from which you derive prized red wines and extraordinary white wines with an alcohol content that arrives to exceed 16 percent.
Abundant sources and streams of water give life to a luxuriant nature that extends on the open stretches of grassland traveled by numerous flocks. The farm, one of the main productive activities, characterizes the landscape also for the presence of the so-called “shepherds’ paths”, enchanting rural roads of transhumance from which you can undertake delicious excursions on foot or mountain bike.
By traversing these ancient paths to meet the extended and bright Oaks where, in the warmer seasons, the expert mycologists go in search of tasty species of fungi including Boletus and Ovolo.
To the South-East the path turns into climbing hills rising to the massif of Gennargentu and the border with the Karst territories of the Supramonte of Orgosolo.
On the plateau of Lidana that occupies the municipal area to the South-West, about 6 kilometers from the village, you meet the charming rustic sanctuary dedicated to the Saints Cosma and Damiano. The church is in the center of a circular space enclosed by the cumbessias, small houses that host the faithful during the novena and feast days forming a sort of micro village.
A stroll among the campaigns reveals extraordinary testimonies of the past: scattered between the unspoilt nature, archeology lovers can discover ancient Prehistoric monuments of the civilization that inhabited these lands in Neolithic times and during the Nuragic Age.
On 17 January with the feast of Sant'Antonio Abate begins the isolated carnival with the lighting of bonfire rituals. On this occasion dedicated every year to Mamoiada, repeats an ancient ceremonial animated by traditional masks more famous on the Island: Mamuthones and Issohadores. The first carry on their face a black mask, carved in the wood of, wild-type or alder, with stretch marks and wearing sheep skin on which is placed “sa carriga”: about 30 kg of cowbells tied over the shoulders. During the parade through the streets of the country and around the fires, the Mamuthones guide with a particular pitch, almost a dance, led by Issohadores. The latter are dressed in male and female elements of the traditional clothing and are so called because their sa soha, the rope with which they take to lasso the people. You do not know with certainty the significance of this archaic representation that has fascinated and continues to attract scholars from all over the world.
Several specimens of these extraordinary masks are exhibited in the Museum of Mediterranean Masks where you can admire other representations of the Barbagia’s carnival in comparison with the masks of some European and Mediterranean countries.
To deepen the knowledge of the local traditions and the history and culture of the territory you can visit the Museum of Culture and Labor which boasts an interesting collection of wonderful traditional clothes. On the facade of the museum are some architectural structures of Aragonese style dating from the Middle Ages that a time esplanades several buildings of the country.
The historical center extends from the main road that passes through the village; here you can access the narrow and intricate alleys which are overlooked by the typical Barbaricine houses two or three floors made with granite blocks.
Walking among the narrow streets of the oldest neighborhoods you can visit some lovely churches among which the most characteristic is the one dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto. It was probably built in the Medieval Era but the first documents in which the church is cited goes back to the early years of the Eighteenth Century. Its peculiarity is given by the closed circular shape with a dome and hexagonal base and is also called “Loreto de bidda” as distinct from the rural church of Loret the Attesu of XVIII Century to about 2 km North-East of the town.
One of the most suggestive shrines of the Island is located 5 km South-West of the country. The ancient medieval church of Byzantine Saints Cosma and Damiano and enclosed in a tiny village formed by the cumbessias i.e. the houses of the pilgrims that were layed down in the day of the feast in honor of the Saints and during the summer season.
Among the treasures of the territory there are the wonderful archaeological sites with monuments dating back to the Neolithic Age. Between the menhir to Sa Perda Pintà (or stele Boeli) retains splendid decorations engraved on the granite, dated to the Ozieri culture (3200-1800 B.C.), that make it unique in Sardinia: mysterious centers and concentric hook-like sticks refer to archaic rituals of fertility or the cycle of life and death.
The Neolithic Age dates back even the numerous domus de janas, here also called concheddas, burials excavated in the rock, including those of the Necropolis of Istevene where you can admire some typical symbols of Prehistoric religion like the Taurine horns.