Intuiting an Early European Farmer face

One sees a few fascinating faces in Cagliari: those great dark unlighted eyes. There are fascinating dark eyes in Sicily, bright, big, with an impudent point of light and a curious roll, and long lashes: the eyes of old Greece, surely. But here one sees eyes of soft, blank darkness, all velvet, with no imp looking out of them. And they strike a stranger, older note: before the soul became selfconscious: before the mentality of Greece appeared in the world. Remote, always remote, as if the intelligence lay deep within the cave, and never came forward. One searches into the gloom for one second, while the glance lasts. But without being able to penetrate to the reality. It recedes, like some unknown creature, deeper into its lair. There is a creature, dark and potent. But what?

Sometimes Velasquez, and sometimes Goya gives us a suggestion of these large, dark, unlighted eyes. And they go with fine, fleecy black hair—almost as fine as fur. I have not seen them north of Cagliari.”

— D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia (1921)

Or more likely something else. Cagliari — too exposed, too open, too receptive. From at least the Carthaginians onward, it was the seat of foreign power on this island, a port lapped by too many seafarers, even stained by too many bruised staphules of slaves, to really say what came from where. Curious eyes should turn instead to the ruggedest Sardinian interior. And they must be there, in less fractured a mosaic than the Jōmon faces that still scream out at you in Japan.

See this past post for more on the longue durée of Sardinian conservatism.

Nature_18-September-Cover_Melting_Pot

TwitterEmail