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© 2007-2016
G@tto: On SALE in South Sardinia

March 10, 2010

The Practice of Euthanasia in Ancient Sardinia...

... or : "Su ohi de s'accabadora"*

After a phone call with a friend recalling some conversations with old people
on a topic that has always been a taboo,
I just googled two keywords :
Accabadora and mazzoccu.

- The "femina accabadora" or "agabbadora" (Span. v. acabar) is the woman
who completes the task - meaning she "helps" to pass away or, in short, a
"terminator". This character
used to be an old woman dressed in black, veiled
face - often the midwife of the village, who was called to end the agony of the
dying when it lasted too long, causing unnecessary suffering.
er task accomplished, she moved away. Her performance was not paid
with money, but rewarded with flour, salt, lard or other common items.

It was an ancestral form of euthanasia, practiced in cases of extreme necessity.

- The "mazzoccu" or "mazzolu" is a piece of wild olive wood, T-shaped like
a hammer
(more info here to translate).
Like all items related to the most secret rites and traditions, this tool was kept
carefully hidden, when people didn't get rid of.
However, one of them is still
visible at the Galluras ethnographic museum, in Luras.

A single sharp blow of this instrument on the temporal bone was supposed
to end the agony
, though sometimes choking with a hand or a pillow was
enough to stop a weak breath of life
. The accabadora's performance was
so fast it appeared to be painless...

The latest reported activities of the Accabadora
would have occurred in Luras (1929) and in
Orgosolo (1952)
, although someone believes
that the last case
would be as more recent as
in 2003

The Luras case is certainly emblematic : when
a 70 years old man passed away - with some
help from such a black angel,
the local police
and prosecutor were unanimous in reporting
the act to a humanitarian context, so the woman wasn't convicted and the
case was filed.


Infos gathered thanks to :
- Contusu.it
- Galluras.it
- A. Satta.pdf

Alberto La Marmora and William Henry Smith were the first to report this primitive
practice of euthanasia in Sardinia in their travel journals, in the early 19th century.

* [the sentence "su ohi de s'accabadora" means "the last lament of the dying"].

1 comment:

Trotter said...

Incredible! The things we learn when blogging...

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