Janas, Sardinian Fairies

There’re many affinities between the stories of Northern Europe and those of Sardinia: “Is Animeddas” is one of these.  Halloween is the equivalent of Is Animeddas because they have in common many rites. In Sardinia there are also other mythological figures typical of the Irish lands. These are  the Fairies, which we call Janas.
Sardinian mythology is full of stories related to these fantastic creatures, and their characteristics change from town to town. The Janas are told in fairy tales as young, elegant, very beautiful, but also very small, slender creatures, paled-skinned, almost evanescent. 

They lived in small cavities called “Domus de Janas” that they dug with small tools, and only came out at night becouse their skin could be burnt by the lights of the day causing their death. Many legends are related to the meticulous art of Sardinian craftsmanship. Thanks to the little hands, they were skilled weavers of gold and silver fine yarns. They also wove filigree rings, an interweaving of gold threads and grains. It was the precious present that each man had to give to his woman to seal their engagement. 

They often stole the yeast to humans, because their bread, cooked at night, could not be good without this ingredient. 

The Sardinian stories, songs and poems are always populated with myths and legends and the “witches”, the “sorceresses”, the “fairies”, are among the most mentioned. Sometimes they would go around looking for bad people, to eradicate their evil. 

The same creatures inhabiting the “Domus de Janas” in other Sardinian countries were called evil witches. Grazia Deledda, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, calls them “Sas Bìrgines” and says that they were evil.

Going around the Sardinian territory, the hills are often characterized by small cavities carved into the rock. These are Necropolis from the Neolithic Period which often carry paintings or engravings inside them linked to the worship of the God Taurus and Goddess Mother. The most important Necropolis in South Sardinia is Montessu in Villaperuccio (CA), reachable in just over an hour by car. It consists of about 40 cavities, dug into the trachytic rock.  Legends tell that they are all fairy houses. 

Take a walk in May, when the green field contrasts with the dryness of the bare rock, and enjoy one of the most fantastic experiences in this region.

We kindly thank  @or_ny80, author of the picture of  the Necropolis of Montessu.