Mattanza. The ritual of killing tuna in Sicily. In Sicily they catch Bluefin tuna in a traditional festival known as the mattanza which takes place in May and June each year. A huge trap (called the tonnara) leads the fish into a chamber, called la “camera della morte”, which has a net floor that can be raised. The fish are then brought to the surface and killed. During this festival, while the tuna are being caught, “Tonnarotti” sing special songs called “scialome” which have been passed down for so long that much of the meaning has now been lost. The term ‘mattanza’ comes from the old Spanish word, “matar”, while other words, such as “rais” (the head fisherman of the mattanza), are of Arabic origin. There are only a few genuine mattanzas left now, and these are all to be found to the west of Sicily, among the Egadi Islands.
Fotografie di Peppino Pippitone