Evil spirits, Mighty exorcists

K U K E R I : THE SPIRIT OF THE BALKANS

For another year the drums echoed and the wine was poured as the annual Masquerade games set the beginning of the three day festival to chase away evil spirits with the traditional ritual from my neck of the woods aka Surva.

Now last year I blogged about the event and offered a more literary observation of the unhuman aspect of the ritual itself and of its performers. I wrote about the amazing transformation from man to animal, about the rich costumes consisting of wood and fur and heavy chimes, about the ancient feel and the lasting memory of days of slavery which the ring of the heavy bells portray.  This time I choose the shorter way to show you what this festival looks like. To check last years post  click here

Every year more and more foreign ensembles arrive and their purpose is to contribute to the festivity of the event. This year we had troupes from Spain, Palestine, Indonesia, Aruba and many more.

They are interesting to watch and to meet as they too have their rituals and their story to accompany it, but the sole entertainment remains within the area in which the main groups, the native ones perform.

The simplest way to put the description of what these man (and now allowed women) do is that they, on several occasions mainly around New Year and also before, uniform themselves with these horrid, horrid masks and furry costumes that bring the smell of cattle and hay (and believe me not in a repulsing way, in fact it reminds me of earth, of hard labor and of a place far, far away from the city) and dance through villages to chase away evil spirits, to bring good harvest and health to the villages and their occupants.

Trust me, in three days a town can become a village. In a very cheerful way though and with the weather holding up for two days before pouring like hell, it was perfect. And we are a contender for UNESCO for being the “capital” of the Masquerade games. Neat.

I thought it would be nice to share some photos I took. Not the sharpest photography, but with an amateur camera and an ever moving object I can’t complain of the results. Click to enlarge 🙂

The chase

The chase

 

A devil before me

A devil before me

 

To wine!

To wine!

 

The heavy bells

The heavy bells

 

Masters of the drum

Masters of the drum

 

Big bells!

Big bells!
A scene from the ritual

\ A scene from the ritual

 

A huge mask with feathers

A huge mask with feathers

Fun fact to add is that the southern Mali tribe Dogon, have a similar ritual and their appearance doesn’t differ much from what our performers have. It’s a bit colorful, but you can see that certain elements seem the same. Maybe some ancient connection there, who knows? Maybe it’s UFO again…

Dogon mask

 

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