The regent of the house

An arzdoura at work - Provincia di Bologna (photo by Vanes Cavazza)
An arzdoura at work - Provincia di Bologna (photo by Vanes Cavazza)

The "Arzdoura" is an important female figure of the ancient sharecropping system of the traditional peasant family from the Bologna countryside.  

In dialect, the "arzdoura" or "sdoura", (regent in Italian), was the landmark of the house: she held a bunch of keys tied to the belt and this denoted that it was really she who held the keys, to the kitchen as well as for administration. It was the most mature position of a female life characterized by flexibility, fairness and endurance.

The "arzdoura" did the housework being at the same time the supervisor, she took care of poultry and rabbits and weaved hemp and span to make dresses. She headed all the family women (daughters and daughters-in-law) who helped her in the household activities as well as in the farm work, such as harvesting, washing hemp, gathering leaves of trees for livestock, raising silkworms, making wine and crushing grapes.

Over time the term has been used to mean in general the housekeeper, but without loosing its original strong connotation: frank, energetic, always busy, able to sit at table a whole regiment and hold attention on her true receipt of the "ragù" or the tortellini's filling.

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Last update: 06-09-2019