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At the end of the 1800s, when Crete was under Ottoman rule, three friends Stratis, Patasmos and Fanourios, are in front of the corpse of Manousakas, the deceased friend, and toast the health of living and dead, as tradition dictates.
“- What do you say – tells Fanourios showing the deceased – we jump him?
– Why not? – Stratis and Patasmos say as one man. They arrange the kilt to the belt so as not to stumble with their feet, raise the coffin and carry the dead man in front of the courtyard door to get more space.
“I’m the first to jump,” said Fanourios. “I’m his brother.” He ran to the front door and got up and jumped. He jumped so hard that his head hit the door lintel. But he did not notice and ended the race in the middle of the common room.
-” I skipped it” – he said fiercely – “It ‘s your turn Stratis”. Stratis took the momentum and his thin body overcame the obstacle lightly, without touching it; then he fell easily on his toes. “To you, Patasmos,” he said. But Patasmos suddenly lost his courage. He looked at the scaffolding. Where had they recovered such tall trepieces? “No, I do not jump,” he said, trembling.
– “Are not you ashamed of Captain Patasmos”? – said Fanourios – “are you Cretan or not? jump”. -” I tell you I do not jump. I play the lyre”.
– “You do not respect death then, miserable? It is a real offense. Is this your friendship for Manousakas here? Jump!” Patasmos scratched his bald head, remembered the great affection he felt for Manousakas, and regained his pride. So he decided to jump and started hop-making hop to be brave. He took the momentum and rushed to the dead, but as he was jumping, the obstacle seemed to him as high as the ceiling. His knees buckled, he stumbled over the coffin, the coffin turned, the body of the dead man rolled on the ground and Patasmos fell on him.
“You have dishonored us,” said Fanourios. “Go fuck yourself”. And kicked him away.
– “Come Stratis, help me”.
They lifted the body, wrapped it in his shroud, put it back in the coffin and placed the image of Christ in his hands.
“It matters nothing, old brother, you did not feel bad because you died,” said Fanourios, stroking Manousakas’s hair and beard. He lowered himself, took the bottle and divided the last drops of raki. Then they sat down again around the dead man and started to look at him. And as they looked at him, they closed their eyes, their heads slipped on their chests and fell asleep.” (N. Kazantzakis, Freedom or Death, 1958, pp. 224-226).

ballo delle vedove argia1

Two widows jump the sick in order to heal him. The Danza delle vedove, the widows’ dance is a therapeutic ritual of Barbagia (Sardinia), built on the idea that dance and some particular actions performed by women will induce in the patient a positive reaction in order to free him from the pain and anguish of the disease. In the ritual we can clearly distinguish three significant acts: the circular dance accompanied by the singing of a solo voice and the choir of women; the exit from the circle of the dance of some women in order to provoke a smile to the patient; a jump made by a woman or several women together that bypasses the sick (from the film “La danza delle vedove”, directed by Giuseppe Ferrara, 1962).

salto mave 3

Sotetorp, Sweden (6th century BC). The image represents three anthropomorphs that leap over a ship with all its occupants. K. Sachs states that in the ritual jump “liberation from the bonds of matter is achieved by force” (SACHS, 1966, 44). 

A Cretan anthem of the III century B.C. addresses to a young “very powerful” boy, who is the personification of Zeus, the prayer to appear every year and jump vigorously and repeatedly on the herds, on the fruits, on the city community, on ships. This ritual leap had the purpose of transmitting the divine energy to men in order to produce the conditions of procreation and fertilization.

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