Sardinia boasts a longstanding tradition of lacemaking, with a clear prevalence of needle lace, although punto in aria, bobbin lace, and crocheted lace are also present.
Like everywhere else, lacework in Sardinia was mostly used to decorate linens and items of clothing.
Before serial production using machines was introduced early in the 19th century, the high cost of lacework meant that buyers came almost exclusively from wealthy, aristocratic families, who flaunted their purchases as status symbols. Documents from historical archives testify to the use of
“randas” (lace) and “obradas” and “estraforadas” canvases (processed and pierced) at least since the mid-16th century. In particular, history texts frequently cite these artefacts together with the so-called “letto sardesco”, a very original type of matrimonial bed, almost two meters tall, that rests upon wooden racks and with up to seven mattresses. The origins of this bed must certainly be aristocratic; later on, it was adopted by the working classes, who kept the characteristically rich decorations and textiles, featuring plenty of lacework.
As in many other regions, lacemaking was a predominantly domestic activity – although it took place in some religious institutes as well – and was passed on from mother to daughter. It was particularly intensive during the 19th century, by which time women were largely free of obligations related to the laborious task of designing and manufacturing raw fabric, and could dedicate themselves to embroidering and lacemaking.
The ethnography section of the G. A. Sanna National Museum in Sassari features the renowned Amilcare Dallay collection, comprising about 300 lace and embroidered items representing one of the many faces of Sardinia’s rich artisanal heritage, especially that of the cities of Sassari and Nuoro.