Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/299

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253
The Dancing-Tower Processions of Italy.

set off on their wild career up and down the steep narrow ways, amid showers of blossoms thrown from upper windows by the women of Gubbio, who otherwise take little active part in the day's proceedings. The most remarkable feature in the progress of the three Ceri is the gyrations performed by them in front of the houses of important citizens, who, to show their appreciation of the compliment, pour out before the bearers libations from their best vintages. These peculiar movements consist in the describing of a triple circuit backwards and withershins: a difficult task when executed with a long awkward barella, an ill-balanced weight, by bearers raised by drink and excitement into a state of frenzy.

An interesting episode witnessed by one member of the party was the lowering of the Cero of Sant' Ubaldo to the open casement of one of the tall grey houses, where a sick man, supported by his friends, embraced with great fervour and emotion the feet and golden robes of the little image.

All through the earlier part of the day the Ceri paraded separately, or stood deserted in the street of the Via Savelli della Porta while the bearers were feasting. While thus in repose, they were in 1903 supported in the upright position by certain stands of quaint and antique appearance, (Plates XXIII.-XXIV., from photographs by Mr. R. H. H. Cust.) In the following year these stands were absent. Enquiry into this singular circumstance led to the unveiling of a tragedy in humble life. These stands were the invention of a local workman; they had been broken the previous year, and, unable to obtain redress, he had left the city in search of remunerative work elsewhere. The mutilated fragments stood dejectedly in the poverty-stricken home, beside the empty cot of his little daughter, who during his absence had been carried to her last sleep in the churchyard.

The Ceri of Gubbio, like the Gigli of Nola, are the