Franco Maritato’s Sardinian carnival masks of Ottana

The Sardinian carnival is one of the most felt carnivals in the world. The tradition that binds the second Italian island to the carnival is a very ancient one. There is an incredible collaboration and participation of all the inhabitants, who dedicate themselves from year to year to the presentation of ever more stylish events. The Sardinian carnival masks of Ottana, called Caratza, are wooden masks representing men or animals. They are used for theatrical-style representations of myths and legends. Franco Maritato is one of the most famous Sardinian craftsmen in the area.

Sardinian carnival masks of Ottana-italiantraditions

Franco Maritato: creating the Sardinian masks of Ottana

Italian craftsmanship is one of the highest art expressions in the world. Unfortunately, due to the obvious process of industrialization, the art of craftsmanship, with its inherent values of commitment, passion and the handing down of tradition from father to son is disappearing. Artisan work requires enormous effort and care to detail: the pieces, made entirely by hand, regardless of their nature (whether carpets, vases or paintings), require a huge amount of time. This is why craftsmanship, in addition to having obvious costs related to the ownership of the artistic piece, also requires time and material expenditure that the craftsman is forced to face.

franco maritato-italiantraditions

Fortunately, the high costs and the constant commitment do not discourage the passion of the Italian artists. In Ottana, a small town of about 2000 inhabitants in the province of Nuoro, the famous ancient style Sardinian carnival masks can still be admired today, made entirely of wood, produced by master craftsman Franco Maritato. A woodcarver with incredible artistic experience and inexhaustible ceativity.

The Sardinian carnival masks of Ottana: caratza


The typical Sardinian carnival masks of Ottana are full of pathos and rich in tales and legends. In Sardinian they are called “Caratza” and are usually made of wood or other completely natural materials. The masks often represent faces of men or animals, and allow those taking part in the carnival to take the form of characters of the Sardinian tradition, making the Carnival a true riot of history, myths and Legends. Franco Maritato’s masks are pure expression of art and tradition.

The carnival of Ottana


The carnival of Ottana, despite the small size of the town, is a very popular event. In fact, we can affirm with absolute certainty that Sardinia is the region within which the carnival is experienced, with most passion. Depending on local tradition, so varying from city to city, parades, theatrical representations of myths and legends, and many spectacular events (including some resembling the Palio di Siena) are organized.

Franco Maritato’s Sardinian carnival masks of Ottana

The Sardinian artist Franco Maritato realizes his typical wooden carnival masks with extreme care and dedication. He tells, in fact, that to craft a traditional caratza is not a simple procedure, but requires transport and real connection with the past and the history of a more remote Sardinia. The masks, made entirely of alder wood, are carved and decorated by hand, but the idea for their realization is not born from the mind of the artist. It is in fact the ancestors, who “send the vision” of faces of men and animals. The craftsman must have a great capacity to listen, in order to be able to “connect” with the roots of his own land and to carve the wood with mastery, in order to obtain the masks.

Main image credits: Sardegna Turismo
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