National Geographic : 1923 Jan
THE ISLAND OF SARDINIA AND ITS PEOPLE comparable to that of the ordinary Italian town. This city also has industries, most important of which are tanneries that have already acquired renown in conti nental Italy and in France. From the olive groves surrounding the town the finest oil is produced and sold at high prices. Tempio manufactures the products of its oak forests into cork (see illustrations, page 5 8'), and in all Sardinia there is an awakening of industry and commerce which is encouraging. Home industries are also thriving. At Bosa the women make very beautiful laces after old patterns, which are greatly appreciated not only in Sardinia but in Italy and abroad. THIE HOME OF SARDINIAN BASKETS At Castel Sardo, in the Northern Prov ince, and at Sinnai and Settimo in the South, the industry of basket-making is well advanced. The baskets made in Castel Sardo are the best and are sold as far away as Philadelphia. The leaves of a dwarf palm which grows in the wild flat plains of the north are used. Figures of animals and flowers fashioned from palm leaves which have been exposed to smoke in the kitchen for several months, so that they take on a permanent blackish hue, are cleverly woven into the pattern (see illustrations, pages 27 and 28). At Isili, in the Province of Cagliari, fine carpets are woven on hand looms and sold everywhere. Sardinian artists are making every effort to keep unaltered the native designs of both carpets and bas kets. They insist that the women con tinue to dye the former with the juice of wild berries, as in the past. The major portion of Sardinia is moun tainous, and these heights, once covered with forests, are now in the main barren and desolate. Continental speculators cut down the forests and converted the wood into charcoal, and the Italian Gov ernment and the Sardinians have been very slow to reforest the cut-over areas. Only one-eighth of the land is under cultivation-a fact due, first, to the pre ponderance of hill over plain, and, second, to the lack of rain in summer months and a variability of climatic conditions which prevents sure harvests. The cultivated ground is well tilled. Mechanical implements are commonly used, especially in the Campidano, and the old Sardinian handmade wooden plow is used only in the mountain districts, where the turf has but little depth. The large reservoir of the Tirso and the projected reservoirs of the other rivers will supply the necessary water in the hot season and will be a boon for agriculture. Of live stock, sheep and goats consti tute the majority; but even among them, left as they are to pasture where Mother Nature has provided food, the mortality during a prolonged drought is very high and the loss of money considerable. When the season is favorable, stock breeding is profitable. LACK OF MAN-POWER IS SARDINIA'S GREATEST HANDICAP It has already been said that the main feature of a Sardinian landscape is its solitude. The whole population of the island is less than that of Naples. The few people are scattered over a large terri tory, with villages sometimes more than fifteen miles apart. Only Cagliari and its environs have a comparatively dense popu lation. This lack of man-power is seriously felt in every branch of human activity. The island's population has been further diminished in recent years through losses on the battle-fields of the World War. Much remains to be done, though much has already been accomplished. The petty jealousies kindled by the Pisans and maintained by the Piedmontese between the two provinces of Sassari and Cagliari have completely disappeared. The Sardinians are now united in their efforts to improve their land. Especially since the World War they have put on the armor of pride and are conscious of their strength. They know the Americans, be cause they saw the Star-Spangled Banner floating everywhere, when representa tives of the American Red Cross gave to Sardinia assistance of every kind. So, let the Americans now know the land of the nuraghi and learn to appreciate her.