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FORTE, V. and ZUPANCICH, A. - An Ethnography of Basketry in Central Western Italy

AUTHORS

Vanessa Forte, Andrea Zupancich

CATEGORY

Report

LANGUAGE

English

 

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EXPERIMENT SUBJECT

“Stramma” manufacture for the production of ropes (funincieglio) and other kinds of weaving works like plait (iettola) for small baskets from Ampelodesmos mauritanicus.

 

 

RAW MATERIAL

Ampelodesmos mauritanicus from the Aurunci Mountains.

Family: Gramineae

Genus: Ampelodesmos

Range: Europe-Mediterranean - Algerian Atlas, Northern Africa, arid terraces of Italy, coastal zones of  Spain, France and Turkey.

Habitat: Dry places, mainly near the coast

Features: Perennial growing to 3m by 1m. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind.The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.The ampelodesmos has got  very strong leaves up to 1 m long and 7mm large. These leaves are very coarse and sharp.

 

TECHNIQUES AND INSTRUMENTS

The leaves have been worked by plaiting. Some tool has been used in order to help some specified point of the manufacture process:

  • “Mazzucco”:  fig-wooden tool used to beat the fibers before of the plaiting.
  • Iron needle: used in the broom manufacture.

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIMENT

Ampelodesmos can be collected during all the year, but the best thing is to reserve this operation for July. During the collection the fibers are bounded up (they are called fasce de stramma) and then they should dry up before the manufacturing process. When the fibers are dried the stramma is beated to be softened.

In the documentary we documented 3 kinds of manufacture:

  1. Rope: stramma leaves are plaited to make a basic plaiting (funincieglio); these are used like ropes to to tie together wooden bandles or like parts in the making of the trezza or iettola plaiting, used to obtain several kinds of basketry vessels.
  2. Broom: a stramma sheaf (fasc' de stramma) and a rope (funincieglio) have been utilised to make a little broom..
  3. Plait and sette fila: the documentary shows the manufacture of a plait (trezza / jettola ) a sette fila (seven sheaves), used in the making of  different kind of basketry vessels. Every plait is sewed on the margins of another one by a funincieglio tie with an iron needle.

By these techniques can be manufactured the following basketry vessels:

  • bags (sporte) to put on the donkeys back;
  • little plain and rectangular vessels (spaselle) in green stramma to contain fish;
  • bags and little baskets;
  • covers for ceramic jars;
  • carpets and mats;

 

NOTES

The manufacturing of the stramma was a feminine activity.