"12 Drummers Drumming" Tambourine, Tarantella, Italy

Tambourine Tarantella Italy
Country: Italy
Drum: tambourine
Border: Florentine design. Chess board (living chess game)  
Dry point etching
Buongiorno/Good Day

Ciao/Hello/Goodbye/Greeting (Pronounced: cha-ow)

Drum: Tambourine is a hand-held drum, with the leather “head” stretched around a thin, circular frame.  Often pairs of metal disks called zills are inserted into the frame to provide a jingling rhythm sound when the drum is struck by hand or “rolled” (shaken back and forth). The Tambourine (or similar smaller instruments) is found in references from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, West Africa, Greece and Ancient Rome.

Dance: Tarentella
The Tarantella is a traditional folk dance from the region of Calabria in southern Italy. It is one of the country’s most popular dances, performed at weddings, celebrations, and happy gatherings of all sorts. The dance is upbeat, with quick steps, and is often performed in a sideways line with participants (including children and seniors) holding hands. It can also be performed by couples as a courting dance.  
As I was working on this project, I was surprised to find the origin of the name comes from a kind of wolf spider (not related to the big, furry, poisonous spider you are probably thinking about.) This spider was first found in the province of Taranto, Italy.  Some folks thought fast twisting and jumping could serve as an antidote to the spider bite, while others thought the action was a result of the bite.   (I had never heard these name explanations before.)  Since my father’s family came from Calabria, I have danced many Tarantellas at family weddings, from when I was a little girl being pulled into the line by “old” aunts to becoming one of the aunts (not too old, now) who does the gathering.  Just working on this art piece brought back wonderful memories.
Traditional Attire: 

The dancer in this print wears the traditional folk dress of the region: a ribbon decorated skirt, white “peasant” blouse, laced weskit and white apron. Sometimes a large, triangular scarf is tied around the dancer’s waist.  Ribbons are often attached to the blouse and to the tambourine, also.
Border: The border I chose to create was based on an Italian Renaissance design. I have always loved the swirling graceful patterns, so prevalent in Florence and elsewhere in Italy. I started with the large flourishes on a hand-made ceramic plate I bought in Tropea, Italy, and then added the Florentine swirls to create tonal value. Tropea, is a picturesque cliff-side village in Calabria (Southern Italy) on the Tyrrhenian coast.

The checkerboard base border is a reference to a marvelous event I witnessed on the other side of Italy, near the northern border in Marostico, at the edge of the Alps. This castle town has a huge chessboard in its central plaza. Every other year since 1454 (at least according to legend), a live chess game has been played here. The spectacle of the show, with costumed performers and live horses (chess knights) is quite wonderful to see. If you want to learn more about this event and see some photos, I’ve attached an article I wrote about it for Renaissance magazine in 2019 (you may be able to enlarge it) and a photo showing  the Knights on horseback, the queen and other players..  

References and Links:

Tambourine. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/art/tambourine

Tropea plate
Marostica Chess
Chess pg 2

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The Art and Writing of Barbara Rizza Mellin