THE FATE IN WORDS. ALMS-GIVING, MASKINGS AND WELL-WISHING FORMULASAlms-giving is a ritual practice which characterizes several festivities in the whole Euro-Mediterranean area. It consists in requests for offers or collection of goods (usually food) performed following different modalities and within precise space-time segments, by subjects traditionally appointed to assume the role of postulants (associations, confraternities, groups of adults, youths, children; often but not always connoted by special costumes and/or masks and by material symbols as well as by specific and peculiar behaviours). The offerers' donation desired and prefigured in alms formulas presupposes a gift given by the collectors of alms; this gift often assumes a performative dimension, although it is not necessarily so: music and choreutic performances, dramatizations, songs, recital of texts accompany them and, as a matter of fact, they join the simple exchange of goods and well-wishing gestures or formulas, in several circumstances. Clemente thus defines them as alms-cerimonies and, underlining the nexus performance (the postulants' one)-counterperformance (donation of the receivers), he ascribes them within the category of cerimonial itinerant actions with exchange. However, we must remark that what characterizes and qualifies unequivocally ritual alms-giving is the exchange of immaterial goods (the wish for wealth and prosperity) and material goods (food, money), while the possible performance remains merely functional and it is not decisive with respect to the definition of the rite. This because postulants in any case always represent some authentic "figures of otherness" in the ceremonial context (explicitly or implicitly) proposing themselves as representatives and/or emissaries of extra-human powers from whom benevolent care and protection are expected, that is a counter-gift diffused and deffered in time. On the basis of such observations, what is offered to the collectors of alms cannot be simplistically understood as payment for any performance whatsoever or as part of a redistribution mechanism supported by demands of social order or of religious pietas, and it confirms that on the whole, at least from a genetic point of view, such rites are to be considered as occasions upon which to offer the gift periodically due to the forces and entities which guarantee the cosmic and microcosmic balance, the cycles of nature and of social life.
|Title of host publication||Maschera e linguaggi|
|Number of pages||67|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|