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Ride of Kings added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

 
photo:  (czechtourism.com)
 

The well-known folk tradition Ride of the Kings was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. It was decided by the international committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on 27 November 2011 in Indonesia.

 
The Czech Republic has been attempting to get the Ride of Kings on the world heritage list for several years. The UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List includes already three Czech practices and expressions: the improvised men’s dance, the so-called Slovácko verbuňk, rural Shrovetide carnivals in masks in Hlinecko (mapa) and falconry.

The Ride of the Kings is an old and traditional folk celebration, usually associated with the Christian All Saints’ Day. It used to be quite common throughout the whole Czech Republic but today, it is practised only in the Moravian regions of Slovácko and Haná. The origin of the parade is still unknown but it might have evolved from royal ceremonies, Easter processions or possibly the pagan efforts to ensure good harvest by a kind of public parade on horses.

The Ride of the Kings takes place at four locations in the Czech Republic: in Vlčnov (mapa), Hluk (mapa), Kunovice (mapa) and Skoronice (mapa) and it is best known for its rich and beautiful costumes. The ride of the kings consists of “legrut” boys in costumes on horses, who accompany the king. The horses are decorated by ribbons, stylized flowers and red scarves tied as banners. The king is always a little boy, who sits on a white horse in women’s dress with his face covered by ribbons and a rose in his mouth as the sign of his taciturnity. According to ethnographers, the roots of this local tradition might be in the flight of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus defeated in one of the battles (1469) in the war with George of Poděbrady. This currently most-widely spread legend says Matthias Corvinus disguised himself as a woman, covered his face by ribbons and put a rose in his mouth on his run so that he would not reveal himself by his voice. A different legend explains the origin of the celebration in pagan traditions, when young boys competed with each other in chasing out cattle and the best of them was proclaimed king.

You can find more information about this celebration here.
 


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Author: Ivana Jenerálová
 
Added: 29.01.2012
 
 
 

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