The History

The term Sartiglia comes from the Castilian sortilla, which derives from the Latin sorticula, meaning “ring” but also “luck”. Indeed, sa Sartiglia consists of horsemen that ride at high speed towards a star-shaped token which has a hole in the middle in order to try and pierce it with their sword. The success of their endeavour was believed to bring a bountiful harvest.

Sa Sartiglia has very ancient origins, traceable to the 11th century, when military games were introduced in Europe to train militias for crusades. Over the years, these games evolved until around the 15th and 16th centuries, when they eventually lost their military value and became shows for the people. Kings, viceroys, feudal lords, and trade corporations organized such shows on numerous occasions, such as for celebrating the investiture of kings or bishops, or the birth of heirs to the throne, or religious holidays: all these were chances to involve the noble class in the city matters and give the whole city incredibly entertaining shows. 

The oldest mention of sa Sartiglia is found in a council registry within the Historical Archive of the city. The registry is dated 1547-48 and mentions a Sortilla organized in honour of Charles V. Other, more recent documents talk about a purchase of “wooden staves to be used during the race” by the city authorities from a local master woodworker. Such detail leads one to think that during the Spanish domination the city authorities organized the race, Sartiglia, which in fact was later entrusted to the corporations, known as gremi.

Su Componidori at the exit of the Vestizione – 1950s