Madonna del Piano in Episcopia
The festival for the Madonna del Piano in Episcopia (PZ) is part of a constellation of rituals that involve parading offerings made of wheat spikes, along the valleys of the Southern Italian rivers Sinni and Sarmento. In Episcopia on August the 5th a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary is carried from a countryside monastery (now sanctuary) to the main church. The statue, which dates back to mid-fifteenth century, is said to have been found by some farmers inside a hollow oak tree that is still on the path of the procession. While visually the wheat offerings might seem similar to others from the region, the procession is peculiar for the wide range of ages that take part. Here in particular young people are very present and give the event a much more lively character than elsewhere. The local priest is very skilled in negotiating the sonic space of the festival, using his microphone and portable amplification system to alternately give voice to the prayers of the women, the brass-dominated music of the band or the dancing music of the zampogna and organetto. Elsewhere the clergy are in constant conflict with forms of devotion that don’t fit a strict opposition between sacred and profane, but are constitutive or regional forms of religiosity. In Episcopia the priest manages to keep control of the various aspects of the festival by allowing time to the louder devotees on the way to the village and during the dance of the wheat offerings towards the end of the procession. The joyful vitality and broad participation of this festival bears witness to the success of this strategy.
These photographs are part of a series on wheat festivals in Basilicata, in this case made with a Sony A7RII and three lenses: Sony 16-35/4 FE, Sony 55/1.8 FE and Zeiss 85/1.8 Batis.