Art & Culture

Secacorne, the story behind the name

The ancient artisan tradition of wood and horn processing in Furore 

By Raffaele Ferraioli

There is a brand new interest in topics like diversity and identity: in a world where everything seems a copy of something else, being recognized by certain aspects has become valuable. It looks like when we have what “o’ ttenimmo sule nuie” (what we have achieved)we are somehow richer. If we apply this idea to the Amalfi Coast and its area, we would think that we would like to reclaim our worth starting indeed from the things that make us different so that we could find new energy to promote our uniqueness. The truth is that, without a clear strategy, these resources are exploited by counterfeiters and smugglers that care only about their earnings. That’s why we need to find new ways to encourage and promote what we have to offer to the world.

Furore craftsmanship

When we think about what characteristics form a place’s identity, we can point out four different domains: artistic, cultural, natural, and gastronomic.  Furore is a little village with a rich artistic heritage that needs to be enhanced, especially woodworking and the old art of processing animal horns. Artisanal handicraft has always been the Amalfi Coast’s pride, to the point that the local craftsmen were given different nicknames regarding the work they were doing. People from Furore were called Secacorne for their ability to work with wood, bones, and horns, raw materials that were easily available in the area during the middle of the nineteenth century, thanks to farming. These kinds of epithets, sometimes lovely and sometimes not so much, weren’t always accepted with fondness by the locals; that’s because most of the time, the aim was to belittle a work category, which caused frequent altercations.

A series of accessories made of wood and animal horns. Courtesy of  Hosteria di Bacco

Hidden heritage

In Furore, artisan craft has always been intertwined with local materials, so it shouldn’t surprise that horns workers were the majority around here. «It was also very popular to create ropes and hawsers, locally called Libani, with the grass that grew in the land,» explains the historian Matteo Camera. Also, since almost every household had looms and turning machines, locals were particularly fond of creating silk socks. By melting bells and cowbells, they always had material ready to create new objects.

Farming is an art

The primary productivity in Furore until the middle of the last century was primarily agriculture and farming, even if a small percentage of the citizens were also fishing. Thanks to the process and work of cow and sheep horns, the locals were able to create all sorts of objects. They created accessories for daily use such as buttons, brushes, and little boxes to stock salt, tobacco, and pepper, but they also came up with work tools like a salt spreader for meat street sellers. They manufactured work items, jewelry, and ornaments that are still preserved to this day.

Kitchen utensils made of wood and animal horns. Courtesy of Hosteria di Bacco

Important skills

During the summertime, workers would leave Furore on their carts drawn by donkeys to reach the Cilento area, Basilicata, and Calabria to work as itinerant sellers. It was a long and exhausting journey that would start in May, mainly made by foot, and would end in September when the workers would return to their families just in time for the grape harvest. They would stay with acquaintances in the villages where they would stop to sell until the end of the season. During this period, their expertise in woodturning and horns processing would also come in handy since they used to carry lamps and similar accessories made with those techniques to light up the streets of the villages that they visited that still didn’t have electricity.  And after all of this hard work, they would take back home with them delicious food specialties gathered from all the places they visited, such as cheese, cured meats, dried figs, and lots of sweet treats.

(Translation by Michela Pandolfi)

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