Every year in Oristano (west of Sardinia) at the end of Carnival, a very ancient and traditional horse race takes place. This is a medieval tournament that has been going on for more than three centuries and every moment and each symbol is meaningful.

The hero and King of this race is called “Su Componidori”, usually a man. He is dressed in public on his exquisite costume by beautiful women in traditional dresses. This ceremony called “Vestizione” turns the man into a God of fertility, who is not male nor female. Once dressed and wearing a mask and a hat, he cannot touch the ground to preserve his purity.

A horse, is already waiting for him and other knights are out in the street. Su Componidori takes the lead and blessing the crowd goes to receive his sword. After having exchanged blessing with his lieutenant by crossing their swords, the real tournament can start.

The aim is to hit a star that is hanging in the middle of the road, while galloping at a breakneck speed. The number of stars collected by the Componidori and the other masked riders is very important: lots of stars mean a better and wealthier year ahead.

The king of the day, will have the first attempt, then his close knights and then the others appointed to the task by the Componidori himself. Once the number of stars collected is satisfactory, the Componidori will go back to the Master of the Ceremony return his sword.

This is the end of the first part of Sartiglia, that goes ahead with a competition of horse riding, where different teams called “Pariglie” will try to show their skills and their bravery with acrobatic and very spectacular races. This goes on until the sun goes down and its too dark to see anything.