Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
212
SARDINIA


comparatively rarely visited by foreigners, while Italians seem to regard it as almost a place of exile. They have the virtues and defects of a somewhat isolated mountain race-a strong sense of honour and respect for women, of hospitality towards the stranger, and a natural gravity and dignity, accompanied by a considerable distrust of change and lack of enterprise. Despite their poverty begging is practically unknown. The houses are often of one storey only. Chimneys are unknown in the older houses; the hearth is in the centre of the chief room, and the smoke escapes through the roof. In the mountain villages the parish priest takes the lead among his people, and is not infrequently the most important person.

Agriculture.-The rest of the island is mainly devoted to agriculture; according to the statistics of 1901, 151,853 individuals out of a total rural population of 708,034 (i.e. deducting the population of Cagliari and Sassari) are occupied in it. Of these 41,661 cultivate their own land, 15,408 are fixed tenants, 24,031 are regular labourers, and no less than 72,753 day labourers; while there are 35,056 shepherds. Emigration is a comparatively new phenomenon in Sardinia, which began only in 1896, but is gaining ground. A considerable proportion of the emigrants are miners who proceed to Tunis, and remain only a few years, but emigration to America is increasing.

Much of the island is stony and unproductive; but cultivation has not been extended nearly as much as would be possible, and the implements are primitive. Where rational cultivation has been introduced, it has almost always been by non-Sardinian capitalists. Two-fifths of the land belongs to the state, and two-fifths more to the various communes; the remaining fifth is minutely subdivided among a large number of small proprietors, many of whom have been expropriated from inability to pay the taxes, which, considering the low value of the land, are too heavy; while the state is unable to let a large proportion of its lands. Comparatively little grain is now produced, whereas under the republic Sardinia was one of the chief granaries of Rome. The Campidano and other fertile spots, such as the so-called Ogliastra on the east side of the island, inland of Tortoli, the neighbourhood of Oliena, Bosa, &c., produce a considerable quantity of wine, the sweet, strong, white variety called Vernaccia, produced near Oristano, being espmially noteworthy. Improved methods are being adopted for protecting vines against disease, and the importation of American vines has now ensured immunity against a repetition of former disasters. The cultivation of the vine prevails far more in the province of Cagliari than in that of Sassari, considerable progress having been made both in the extent of land under cultivation and in the ratio of produce to area. The entire island produced 28,613,000 gallons of wine in the year 1899 and 19,809,000 in 1900. In 1902 the production fell to 13,491,517 gallons; in 1903 it was 26,997,680; in 1904 it reached the phenomenal figure of 63,105,577 gallons, of which the province of Cagliari produced 53,995,362 gallons; in 1905 it fell to 36,700,000, of which the province of Cagliari produced 32,500,000 gallons. Though much land previously devoted to grain culture has been planted with vines, the area under wheat, barley, beans and maize is still considerable. Most of the soil, except the rugged mountain regions, is adapted to corn growing. In 1896 the grain area was 380,000 acres, a slight diminution having taken place since 1882. The yield of corn varies from six to ten times the amount sown. In 1902 the total production of wheat in the island was 2,946,070 bushels, but in 1903 it rose to 4,823,800 bushels, in 1904 it fell to 4,015,020, and in 1905 rose again to 4,351,987 bushels, gl; of the whole production of Italy. The cultivation of olives is widespread in the districts of Sassari, Bosa, Iglesias, Alghero and the Gallura. The government, to check the decrease of olive culture in Sassari, has offered prizes for the grafting of wild olive trees, of which vast numbers grow throughout the island. Tobacco, vegetables and other garden produce are much cultivated; cotton could probably be grown with profit. The houses of the Campidano are mostly built of sun-dried unbaked bricks. The ox-wagons with their solid wheels, and the curious water-wheels of brushwood with earthenware pots tied on to them and turned by a blindfolded donkey, are picturesque. Both European and African fruit trees grow in the island; there are in places considerable orange groves, especially at Milis, to the north of Oristano. The olive oil produced is mainly mixed with that from Genoa or Provence, and placed on the market under the name of the latter. Among the natural fiora may be noted the wild olive, the lentisk (from which oil is extracted), the prickly pear, the myrtle, broom, cytisus, the juniper. Large tracts of mountain are clothed with fragrant scrub composed of these and other plants.1 The higher regions produce cork trees, oaks, pines, chestnuts, &c., but the forests have been largely destroyed by speculators, who burned the trees for charcoal and potash, purchasing them on a large scale from the state. This occurred especially in the last half of the 19th century, largely owing to the abolition of the so-called beml ademprivilz. These were lands over which, in distinction from the other eudal lands, rights of pasture, cutting of wood, &c. &c., existed. When, in 1837, the baronial fiefs were suppressed by Charles Albert, and the land transferred to the state, the ademprivio was maintained on the lands subject to it, and it was thus to the interest of all that I

The herba Sardoa, said to cause the Sardonicus (sardonic laugh), cannot be certainly identified (Pausanias x. 17, 13). the woods should be maintained. In 1865, however, it was suppressed, and one half of the beml ademprivili was assigned to the state, the other half being given to the communes, with the obligation of compensating those who claimed rights over these lands. The state, which had already sold not only a considerable part of the domain land, but a large part of the beni ademprivili, continued the process, and the forests of Sardinia were sacrificed; and, as has been said, the necessity of reafforestation, of the regulation of streams, and of irrigation” is urgent. Laws to secure this object have been passed, but funds are lacking for their execution on a sufficiently large scale. Another difficulty is that Italian and foreign capitalists, have produced a great rise in prices which has not been compensated by a rise in wages. Native capital is lacking, and taxation on unremunerative lands is, as elsewhere in Italy, too heavy in proportion to what they may be expected to produce, and not sufficiently elastic in case of a bad harvest.

Live-Stock.-A considerable portion of Sardinia, especially in the higher regions, is devoted to pasture. The native Sardinian cattle are small, but make good draught oxen. A considerable amount of cheese is manufactured, but largely by Italian capitalists. Sheep's milk cheese (pecorino) is largely made, but sold as the Roman product. Horses are bred to some extent, while the native race of donkeys is remarkably small in size. Pigs, sheep and goats are also kept in considerable numbers. Whereas in 1881 Sardinia was estimated to possess only 157,000 head of cattle, 478,000 sheep and 165,000 goats, the 'numbers in 1896 had increased to 1,159,000 head of cattle, 4,960,000 sheep and 1,780,000 goats. The nomadic system prevails in the island. Breeding is unregulated and natural selection prevails. A more progressive form of pastoral industry is that of the tanche (enclosed holdings), in which the owner is both agriculturist and cattle raiser. On these farms the cultivation of the soil and the rearing of stock go hand in hand, to the great advantage of both. Nevertheless the idea of the value of improving breeds is gaining ground. Good cattle for breeding purposes are being imported rom Switzerland and Sicily, and e orts are likewise being made to improve the breed of horses, which are bought mainly for the army. The opportunity of utilizing the wool for textile industries has not yet been taken, though Sardinian women are accustomed to weave strong and durable cloth. Everywhere capital and enterprise are lacking. Agricultural products require perfecting and fitting for export. .

Of wild animals may be noted the moufflon (Ovis Ammon), the stag, and the wild boar, and among birds various species o f the vulture and eagle in the mountains, and the pelican and liamingo (the latter coming in August in large flocks from Africa) in the agoons.

Fisheries.-The tunny fishery is considerable; it is centred principally in the south-west. The sardine fishery, which might also be important, at present serves mainly for local consumption. Lobsters are exported, especially to Paris. The coral fishery mainly on the west coast-has lost its former importance. Neither the tunny nor the coral fishery is carried on by the Sardinians themselves, who are not sailors by nature; the former is in the hands of Genoese and the latter of Neapolitans. The unhealthy lagoons contain abundance of fish. The mountain streams often contain small but good trout.

In Roman times Sardinia, relatively somewhat more prosperous than at present, though not perhaps greatly different as regards its products, was especially noted as a grain-producing country. It is also spoken of as a pastoral country (Diod. v. I5)1 but we do not hear anything of its wine. Solinus (4, § 4) speaks of its mines of silver and iron, Suidas (s.1J.)-of its purple and tunny fisheries, Horace (An Poet. 375) of the bitterness of its honey. Pausanias (x. 17, § 12) mentions its immunity from wolves and poisonous snakes-which it still enjoys, —but Solinus (l.c.) mentions a poisonous spider, called solifuga, peculiar to the island.

Minerals.-The mining industry in Sardinia is confined in the main to the south-western portion of the island. The mines were known to the Carthaginians, as discoveries of lamps, coins, &c. (now in the museum at Cagliari), testify. The Roman workings too, to judge from similar finds, seem to have been considerable. The centre of the mining district (Metalla of the itineraries) was probably about 5 m. south of Fluminimaggiore, in a locality known as Antas, where are the remains of a Roman temple (Corpus Inscr. Lat. x. 7539), dedicated to an emperor, probably Commodus-but the inscription is only in part preserved. A pig of lead found near Fluminimaggiore bears the imprint Imp. Caes. Hadr. Aug. (C.I.L. x. 8073, 1, 2). After the fall of the Roman Empire the workings remained abandoned until the days of the Pisan supremacy, ” and were again given up under the Spanish government, especially after the discovery of America. When the island passed to Savoy, in 1720, the mines passed to the state. The government let the mines to contractors for forty years and then took them over; but in the period from 1720 to 1840 only 14,620 tons of galena were extracted and 2772 of lead. In 1840 the freedom of mining was introduced,

By the law of 1906 the state has not assumed the responsibility of the construction of reservoirs for irrigation.

“The Pisan workings are only distinguished from the Roman by the character of the small objects (lamps, coins, &c.) found in them.