Those women who died in childbirth transformed into ghosts in Sardinia

Those women who died in childbirth transformed into ghosts in Sardinia A white veil decorated with a lace from the Barbagia tradition covers their ghostly face, revealing enormous black eyes, holes piercing the pale face. So they appear the ‘Panas’, creatures of the Sardinian tradition reworked by the imagination of the illustrator from Cagliari Ilenia Loddoin the second adventure of his character, Professor Rufus Kraus, dead paranormal scholar after a fall into a crevasse during his research he became a ghost.

In this form the protagonist of the stories created by the artist meets legendary figures who populate Sardinia. Panas are spirits of women who died in childbirth. According to popular superstition, they are forced to wander without peace for seven years. In their blood-stained white tunic, these ghosts appear at the stroke of midnight in the woods of Barbagia di Ollolai, where they spend the night by the river, washing their child’s clothes, singing a poignant lullaby in Sardinian.

© Ilenia Loddo

The Panas

‘The terrifying discoveries of Dr. Kraus. Le Panas’ (Camena editions) is the latest illustrated book by Loddo, fascinated by dark atmospheres and inspired by the dark legends that are handed down in Sardinia. “The Panas interest me like all nocturnal creatures”, explains the author, “and here even more because it was a question of managing the theme of motherhood and abandonment, still very topical today. It was not a question of creating monsters but, rather, to give body to mysterious and fascinating female figures, even with eyes as black as the dark, hidden by a white veil enriched by a lace that I took from the tradition of Ollolai”.

The legend of the Panas ghosts of women who died in childbirth

© Ilenia Loddo

The illustrator Ilenia Loddo

The outline of the plates recalls hand drawing, but it is the result of eight months of work entirely on the computer. In the author’s vision, the Panas, vengeful ghosts that are hard to distinguish from women in the fleshthey roam the night with a human bone and a basin and are condemned to loneliness: no one is allowed to speak to them, on pain of terrible consequences, as happens to a child depicted in the volume.

The register, complete with bibliography which includes a collection of ethnographic writings by Grazia Deledda, reports some useful ‘precautions’ to avoid the Panas and also to prevent a woman who died in childbirth from having that fate. In closing, the author tells the story of ‘Sa Reula’, the processione fantasma del 31 ottobre, another legend from which it is preferable – according to superstition – that the ‘undead’ stay away.


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