National Geographic : 1951 Aug
235 S. Presser, from Black Star Thousands Mass in Cathedral Square To Watch Flag-Bearers Juggle Their Banners Thrown overhead, the standards swing open, flashing brilliant colors, and float down to waiting hands. Sometimes they fly over shoulders or pass between legs. Sienese never tire of the spectacle (page 237). by the Captain of Justice, a civic official of importance, accompanied by his grooms. He may be called upon to make major decisions with respect to the race. And now, finally, comes the ox-drawn tri umphal cart, from the top of which is borne aloft the Palio banner (pages 232 and 244). From the sides hang the Palio tapestries. Jockeys Wield Ox-tendon Whips Trooping behind are more trumpeters and bands of the armed gentry of the commune. A splendid cavalcade, indeed, and one worthy of its history and spirit. I was presented with a lovely parchment, attesting honorary citizen ship, whereon is painted this brilliant parade. The great procession winds around the Campo. Each group is greeted by wild cheering. Each jockey is presented at the last moment with his badge of office, one might say his weapon-the nerbo-a stout piece of ox tendon which serves as a whip. In days gone by fantini carried long flexible thongs with which they had a pleasant way of dragging each other from their mounts, for all seems as fair in a palio as in war or love. The riders impressed me as being chosen for fearlessness and hardihood. Even now they are not above belaboring the mounts of their opponents, if need be. Most of the steeds are, be it confessed, only work animals which labor at humdrum daily duties until the day of days arrives. Then, like Cinderella, they are transformed and thrust into a gorgeous riot of color and ex citement. No one cares for their collar marks, raw bones, or ewe necks. They are no longer servitors of the plow or cart. They are privi leged to appear in Siena's apotheosis.