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Traditional ethnographic characters

Masks are so widely spread that they hold a significant place in the history of the mankind. For centuries people have believed that the use of masks could help to make connections with the world beyond, with demons, gods, and ancestors’ spirits. Their driving force was to understand and influence natural and social phenomena. The celebration of the carnival goes back to the pagan period, before Christianity, when people celebrated the forthcoming spring and the inevitable end of the winter by performing the rituals of fertility and by magic of masks. Although later Christianity felt absolutely disinclined to this pagan performance, it could never really uproot the masquerading. To be preserved the carnival took place at the beginning of the 40-day Lent preceding Easter; in fact Lent lasts 46 days as the first day is Ash Wednesday. After the period of merry-making, excessive eating and drinking which end on Shrove Tuesday at midnight, begins the period of fasting. 

Masks and masquerading which have come into existence through various historical periods, can nowadays be divided into traditional masks with magic power, and contemporary carnival masks criticising and mocking different events happening in everyday life. In Slovenia, the Ptuj and Drava Fields, Haloze and Slovenske Gorice hills represent the area which deserves special attention for the number and variety of traditional carnival masks.

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A magical traditional character that chases away everything bad and brings fortune and happiness.

Masks are so widely spread that they hold a significant place in the history of the mankind. For centuries people have believed that the use of masks could help to make connections with the world beyond, with demons, gods, and ancestors’ spirits. Their driving force was to understand and influence natural and social phenomena. The celebration of the carnival goes back to the pagan period, before Christianity, when people celebrated the forthcoming spring and the inevitable end of the winter by performing the rituals of fertility and by magic of masks. Although later Christianity felt absolutely disinclined to this pagan performance, it could never really uproot the masquerading. To be preserved the carnival took place at the beginning of the 40-day Lent preceding Easter; in fact Lent lasts 46 days as the first day is Ash Wednesday. After the period of merry-making, excessive eating and drinking which end on Shrove Tuesday at midnight, begins the period of fasting. 

Masks and masquerading which have come into existence through various historical periods, can nowadays be divided into traditional masks with magic power, and contemporary carnival masks criticising and mocking different events happening in everyday life. In Slovenia, the Ptuj and Drava Fields, Haloze and Slovenske Gorice hills represent the area which deserves special attention for the number and variety of traditional carnival masks.

Preserving heritage

Only young men could dress as Kurents in the past. Between Candlemas on 2 February and Ash Wednesday, groups of Kurents walked through their home and neighboring villages in the company of the devil, who stole a sausage or two from the house. Their visit brought luck to the house in the coming year. If Kurents rolled themselves on the ground on the homestead’s yard, that brought a year of bad luck. In the second half of the 20th century, they started frequenting Ptuj in greater numbers, and making appearances at Kurentovanje and other organized carnival and folk events in Slovenia and abroad.

Today, about a thousand of Kurents form a number of village and town groups – most of them are young men, but some young women joined them in recent times. Only a few artisans know how to make Kurentija – Kurent’s costume. Although the costumes are pricey, the number of orders keeps increasing through years, proving the growing popularity of Kurent’s heritage.

Preserving heritage

Only young men could dress as Kurents in the past. Between Candlemas on 2 February and Ash Wednesday, groups of Kurents walked through their home and neighboring villages in the company of the devil, who stole a sausage or two from the house. Their visit brought luck to the house in the coming year. If Kurents rolled themselves on the ground on the homestead’s yard, that brought a year of bad luck. In the second half of the 20th century, they started frequenting Ptuj in greater numbers, and making appearances at Kurentovanje and other organized carnival and folk events in Slovenia and abroad.

Today, about a thousand of Kurents form a number of village and town groups – most of them are young men, but some young women joined them in recent times. Only a few artisans know how to make Kurentija – Kurent’s costume. Although the costumes are pricey, the number of orders keeps increasing through years, proving the growing popularity of Kurent’s heritage.

Kurents’ Door-to-Door Rounds on Prestigious Unesco List

Kurent Is a Cultural Treasure of Global Importance

Great recognition from Unesco

Kurent - the most popular carnival character

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) added door-to-door rounds of Kurents/Korants to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017. Entry on Unesco’s list is certainly extremely important, not only for preserving the regional ethnographic heritage, but also for raising Ptuj’s international profile. Nowhere else in Slovenia or wider you will find such a diversity of traditional folk carnival characters, however Kurent still occupies the central role among them. The fact that the biggest open event in the country (Kurentovanje) is named after this character speaks for itself.

Traditional ethnographic characters

Kurent
the most important ethnographic figure
Old Woman Carrying Her Man
spirits of heaven
Gypsies
from Dornava
The Devil
fear, fear, is coming
Jürek and Rabolj
from Haloze
The Trough
the straw bride
Wedding Character – the Spearman
marital character
Kurike and piceki
for a good harvest
The Mischievous Bear
from Ptuj field
Ploughmen
draw a magic circle
Log-Haulers
to enchant fertility
Carnival dancers
from Pobrežje
The Whip Crackers
for happiness and well-being
Rusas
from Ptuj field
Fairies
dancing and singing
Traditional ethnographic characters