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Zvončari The Pagan Slavic Carnival In Croatia

Halubajski zvončari (ringers) are old original group from the eastern part of the Kastav. Once upon a time this region was rich in pastures and sheep. When heavy rain would fall the shepherds would run to shelter in huts made of stone, wood or straw, called HALUBA. According to the older stories shepherds in the spring were going for the sheep in the forests at the foot of mountain, strung sheepskin and hung around the waist cow bells fearing away evil forces off their animals. They believed that the bells bring happiness, do good, so constantly ringing through the thick blackness of impenetrable forests they believed that ringing clears their way of evil. The costumes and equipment preserve the zoomorphic (animal-shaped) mask with horns and a big bell on the back. More info: Facebook[divider]

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Like other ringers they drape the sheepskin, in their hands they carry bačuka which is also suggesting their warlike origin or function because of conflicts with Tatars or Turks that took place on this territory.

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When the Turks invaded the region, then men masked themselves, in order to induce the impression of massiveness, and then the shepherds themselves wore sheepskin, placed a mask on their heads, and encircled the bells and horrible bučeći to chase the enemy away.

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Hence in their equipment there are some weapons elements. The bell tradition is especially closely related to the awakening of nature, fertility cult and expression of strength against the evil spirits of winter (drawing ties to Pagan Slavic God Veles).

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Its terrible appearance, unbridled power of ritual movement and bells, bell ringers announce winter retreat in front of the Sun, and their masks monuments announce spring both in Halubje and in other parts of the northern Adriatic, Croatian and Europe where there are similar traditions.

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