The House of Culture: The “Corso” Museum of Ethnography and folklore


Located in Palmi (Province of Reggio Calabria), the House of Culture is a symbolic location, especially if we keep in mind the definition of culture given by anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor in 1871: «Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.»

Secondly the House of Culture, located in the peripheral area of Reggio, is named after Leonida Repaci, a man whose literary works are the expression of the concept of culture in its entire potential. Considering the amount of items kept at the complex, it is necessary to go by degrees. If we go back to Tylor’s definition, the Museum of  Ethnography and Folklore which bears the name of Raffaele Corso and was founded in 1955 on the initiative of Antonino Basile, Nicola De Rosa, Giuseppe Pignataro, Luigi Lacquaniti, Francesco Salerno, Francesco Ciprì and Antonio Nasso. In time, the museum’s offer has been complemented with donations from lovers of popular culture. There is a huge number of distaffs on display at the museum: such objects were originally meant for weaving, but they often became love tokens given by local youths to their beloved.

There also are many items which were used in fishing, hunting and agriculture, as well as various artifacts related to superstition, whose considerable significance results from the fact that they are symbols of the primordial human fears.Un

These are apotropaic masks and “babbaluti”. The first are depictions of gruesome – and often horned – faces: their purpose was to keep off evil spirits, which is the reason for their being hung outside the house doors. The latter are anthropomorphic bottles of different size, whose tradition probably dates back from the period of Magna Grecia. Most of these items are made in the nearby town of Seminara, which can boast a long tradition of pottery and ceramic workmanship.

Also on display: an old loom (from the end of the 19th century), some reproductions of giants (huge papier-maché puppets that are brought in procession during religious festivals) and a carriage which is a real eye-catcher for visitors.