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UNESCO Intangible Heritage – Shrovetide processions

photo:  (czechtourism.com)

Inscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List is an honour for any monument or tradition. It confirms its uniqueness, world-wide value and its significance for the future. The Czech Republic can boast several such entries in the Intangible Heritage List, i.e. Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The Representative Intangible Heritage List of Humanity includes traditions from all over the world. Since 2005, the Czech Republic is represented by the Slovácko Verbuňk, the Shrovetide mask processions in Hlinecko which were added in November 2010, and falconry, which concerns another ten countries as well. The last tradition added to the UNESCO List at the end of 2011 is the Ride of Kings in Vlčnov.

Shrovetide processions in the Hlinecko Region

Although Shrovetide (called Masopust in the CR) parades take place throughout the whole Czech Republic, their authentic form has only been preserved almost perfectly in several villages in the Hlinecko Region (mapa) of eastern Bohemia. The origins of the celebrations that were to ensure a rich harvest, fertility and welcome the upcoming spring go back to the pre-Christian era. The tradition has remarkably survived in a few villages of the Hlinecko micro-region (Studnice, Vortová, Hamry and a part of Hlinsko called Blatno).

In comparison to other regions, Shrovetide in Hlinecko does not take the form of a carnival, but is rather a tour from house to house. Reliable records about the form of this tradition in the region come from the first half of the 19th century.

The procession follows clear rules and proceeds in a strict order with a fixed number of masks. It is always led by a mare and closed by a knacker. They go from house to house, sing and taste traditional treats. The parade ends with the death and resurrection of the mare (a mask), which is a widely spread myth connected with the arrival of spring. The Shrovetide procession is an extraordinary spectacle and an exceptional experience for children as well as adults.

Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 23.02.2012

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