Warning: Some Brief Scenes Are Graphic.
A village in the Southern Italian region of the Calabria region is the backdrop for an ancient ritual that is claimed to represent a people’s identity; an identity that struggles to keep its tradition unaltered through time.
"Tradition is the pump that pushes the blood of identity".During the Holy Week prior the Easter celebrations, the village experiences an intense spiritual and practical preparation for a weekend ritual. The statue of the Virgin Mary is taken out from its shrine to take part in the ritual of Vattienti. These are flagellants who beat their legs with two pieces of cork, one of which has 13 fragments of glass in it, and represent the sufferings of Jesus, and who must endure the pain of religious mortification in the name of spiritual cleansing.
Ruben Salvadori is an Italian photographer, whose biography tells us that he's to graduate with dual majors for a BA in International Relations and Anthropology/Sociology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He uses photography as an academic aid for his anthropological research, and mixes his academic background with a visual documentary-style approach to gain in-depth, empirical research results through his images.
Further information on the Vattienti:
This sacred popular custom centres around two figures; the “Ecce Homo” and the “Vattiente”, barefoot and tied to one another with a rope about two and a half metres long. The first wraps a cloth around his hips and holds a cross made of wooden slats covered in red bandages, as a symbol of blood and martyrdom; the other wears a black shirt with black shorts and a crown of barbed thorns on his head. Once they are dressed, the “Vattienti” rub and slap their calves and thighs with the “rosa”, a cork disk soaked in a warm rosemary infusion, in order to make the blood rise to their capillaries. They then use the “cardo”, another cork disk with 13 glass shards embedded in it, to beat the reddened parts of their skin. Rivulets of blood run down their legs, while red wine is poured onto their wounds to disinfect them and prevent fast clotting. Once they have marked the door of their house and those of their friends and relatives, as a token of good luck, each Vattiente goes to meet the Madonna Addolorata. This is the final climax of the rite when the flagellation reaches its height and becomes even more agitated and dramatic. (From Tour Calabria).