June 29, 2013

0708 BULGARIA - Kukeri

Some customs are so deeply rooted in the traditions of the peoples, that they survive them and transmit to their descendants, even if their beliefs and their way of life were changed radically. One of these is kukeri, a pagan ritual dating back to the ancient Thracians and worshiped to Dionysos (the Thracian and Greek god associated with wine, fertility, and rebirth), which aims to scaring evil spirits, as well as to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the coming year. For this, around New Year and before Lent, costumed men visit the peoples' houses at night (so that "the sun would not catch them on the road"), and after that they gather at the village square to dance wildly and amuse the people. Closely related traditions are found throughout the Balkans and Greece (in Greek-speaking Thrace - kalogeros / cuci, in former Yugoslavia - didi / didici, in Pontic Anatolia - momogeros, in Romania - capra / turca / brezaia).

The costumes cover most of the body and include scary wooden masks and huge copper bells (chanove) attached to the belt. The masks are decorated with threads, ribbons, laces and usually represent animals like goats, bulls, rams, or even chicken. Some of them are double-faced, symbolizing the good and the bad which co-exist in the world: on one of the sides, the nose is snubbed and the face is good-humored, on the other side, the nose is hooked and the face is ominous. Kuker is actually a divinity personifying fecundity, so in Bulgaria, in spring, takes place a ritual spectacle inaugurating the labours of the fields, after a scenario of folk theatre, in which Kuker's role is interpreted by a man attired in a sheep or goat pelt, wearing a horned mask and girded with a large wooden phallus.

About the stamp 

The stamp, designed by Viliam Kitanov, was issued on May 7, 2012, with the occasion of 20th anniversary of Bulgaria's membership in Council of Europe.

Kukeri - Wikipedia
International Kukeri Festival in Pernik, Bulgaria - studyenglishtoday.net

sender: Desislava Eneva (direct swap)
sent from Sofia (Bulgaria), on 05.07.2012
photo: Gufo

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