Czech Mardi Gras Parades and Falconry on the UNESCO List

Date: 18.11.2010

Carnival parade from Hlinecko and Czech falconry got the approval of 11 countries, Czech Republic included, to be signed onto the list of intangible cultural UNESCO heritage. Proposal passed on November 16, 2010 at the UNESCO summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The roots of the carnival parades are probably pagan. The procession ends in death and resurrection of a mare, which is a widespread myth associated with the arrival of spring. The tradition is preserved and documented since19th century in Hlinecko, including one region of Hlinsko, Czech Republic. Parade goes from one house to another singing popular song and they collect the money. Each village has its mask and its own parade and they compete with each other.
Masked parade has certain rules. It involves only two types of masks: the so-called red and black masks. The first group consists of Motley, Wife and Turks. Only single men can wear these costumes. Married may occur in the so-called black masks of a Bogey, Chimney Sweep, Race, Grasshoppers and a village trader - a Jew.

At the end of the day, the mare will be killed for all the sins committed. The masquerade ends with an evening entertainment. The last solo dance belongs to the red masks at midnight. After that, the fasting begins.

The whole week starting from 15-19 November 2010 the UNESCO were making decisions on the songs, dances and traditions from 31 countries and 51 items like the traditional Andalusia Flamenco or, the genre of Peking Opera. French gastronomy, the whole process of eating and panache enjoying made the list also.

The Huns brought falconry to the Czech Republic in the 5th century, even though it began as a way of hunting in the Middle East.

The nomination UNESCO dossier also states:"Falconry is one of the oldest relationship between man and predator, which goes back more than 4,000 years. It is a traditional activity of hunting with trained birds of prey in their natural state and environment. Falconry is considered a deeply empathic activity and falconers understand their predators and hunted species must be preserved for centuries. "

In the 13th century an explorer Marco Polo described the meeting of 10 000 falconers in the court of Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan). Czech falconers have plans to organize a similar festival and celebrate the UNESCO nomination at the World Falconers Festival in Abu Dhabi in December 2011.


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