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Folklore - Tamburello

The tambourine is an authentic remnant of real peasant culture – and very different from the current colourful “folk” groups created to entertain city folk, tourists, and those who seek “natural” thrills (but with air conditioning!) It’s a simple and complete instrument, and in times gone by it flooded the threshing floors of the farms with its rhythmic, festive sounds, accompanying the young men and young women, with their wide skirts and hair let down, as they twirled about between farmhouses and ancient trulli fixed in time, their white stones reflecting the moon. They met along the huge slabs of ancient stone, worn by the years and by more humble human labours, the same stones that now “disappear” at night so that they can pave the floors in the new houses of the nouveau riche, the “new entries” coming down from the North in search of sun, mandolins, and “rural” life, their legs crossed Indian-style in a sad imitation of the authentic . . .
Even the smallest children danced to the sound of the tambourine, shaken with the ancient wisdom of their grandmothers, and of the old farmers. Accompanied by its sounds, the entire community opened its arms to the Salento moon, witness to a pagan celebration, ad-libbed and real, not written on the calendar or prescribed by religion. And the immense dome of the starry sky, without headlights and street lamps, immersed revellers in a sea breeze after a day under the torturous sun.
Still today, under the trulli-filled fields around Cisternino and Ostuni, in the lost countryside of Carovigno, an old tradition lives on, kept alive by the last, few witnesses of a peasant culture about to vanish from the face of the earth. And there, in the magic summer nights, you can see a young man and a young woman who renew an ancient custom in front of the big bonfire to the timeless rhythm: the pizzica, joyful and sensual, suddenly frees a hidden energy and pushes the girl to leap around madly with her arms open, the big handkerchief waving to attract her chosen one.
The tambourine, essential and complete, lives on with the last spontaneous groups and whirling circles, like so long ago, sounding its rhythms amidst the hidden threshing floors, far from the well-lit centres of the celebrations, with its ancient rhythm, moving and timeless. To all of you who seek the “real”, we wish you an unexpected encounter on a full-mooned night.