The Janas: the journey to discover the legends of Sardinia begins

legends of Sardinia: the Janas

In the picture you can see the Domus de Janas of Montessu. It’s an ancient pre-Nuragic rock-hewn tomb. More than 2.400 Domus have been discovered on this island. And these are the places where, according to one of the most famous legends of Sardinia, Janas lived.

Domus de Janas means “house of the fairies” in Sardinian language. The Janas, in fact, are little fairies who, according to popular traditions, live in holes dug in the rocks. And popular tradition has identified these holes with the pre-Nuragic rock-hewn tombs.

Janas’ skin was white and very delicate: the sun’s rays would have ruined it and, for this reason, they came out only after sunset. In the full moon nights, Janas came out to pray near Nuragic temples. They had to walk along steep paths to get there. Janas became bright to avoid the thorns and this marked their presence.

In many ways, Janas were similar to elves of other cultures. They were able to do any type of domestic work: they weaved wonderful clothes and prepared a lighter than host loaf (perhaps, there is a reference to pane carasau).

Loaves and cloths were not prepared with ordinary tools: the loom was gold and the sieve was made of silver. The two instruments were part of the fabulous treasure of which Janas were keepers.

To protect the treasure, Janas hid the muscas maceddas in the treasure chests. Muscas maceddas were horrible insects with goat’s head, one eye on forehead, sharp teeth, short wings, a tail with a poisonous sting.

According to this Sardinian legend, Janas had a soothing voice: their melody spreads at night while working on loom or sieves, and accompanied the solitary wayfarers.


Next legend: the Sardinian food


Image source: “Interno Domus de Janas” di No machine-readable author provided. Shardan assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).. Con licenza CC BY-SA 2.5 tramite Wikimedia Commons

Related articles