Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/289

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247
The Dancing-Tower Processions of Italy.

from Romanesque to Baroque. In other respects it resembles the account given of the Ruala.[1]


The "Gigli," or Lilies, of Nola.

At Nola, beloved of the archæologist for the beauty of its ancient Greek pottery, and interesting to the student of mediaeval history as the home of the first church-bell, an annual festival resembling in many respects the Florentine pageant of San Giovanni is still celebrated on the 22nd and 23rd of June. Numerous slender towers, each about forty feet high, made of gesso, or stucco, on a wooden framework and surmounted by figures of the Madonna and patron saints, are carried through the streets on the shoulders of red-clothed bearers, who, undismayed by their burdens, perform remarkable evolutions, eight of the towers having been seen to dance a quadrille in the piazza. Each tower is composed of seven diminishing platforms built up round a mast and supported on a square base, on which is stationed a band of musicians who all play furiously and all different tunes. Above are boys, who scatter confetti on the crowd. On each tower are the insignia of a trade, the bakers, coppersmiths, and so forth, showing that the Lilies like the Ceri of Vicenza are the property of the different Guilds. With the towers comes a car, the property of the clog-makers, which is in form like a ship. Its commander is a ferocious Turk, its freight a silver statue of St. Paulinus. The procession is accompanied by the Bishop and clergy bearing the Host and relics. As the day wears on a fury of excitement possesses the whole populace, bells are rung, fireworks exploded, and linked dances similar to those performed by Greek peasants at Easter-time are a conspicuous and noteworthy feature of the day's proceeding. The tradition of the inhabitants as to the origin of their popular festival is of no very ancient date. They associate it

  1. From personal observation.—A. W.