Ancient Slovenian Rite Is Included into the UNESCO List
Procession of Kurents, belief in their supernatural power and assistance in ensuring the fertility of lands convinced UNESCO to include the ritual into the list of intangible cultural heritage. The inclusion was confirmed at the twelfth meeting of the UNESCO intergovernmental committee on intangible cultural heritage in South Korea.
The event was also attended by the Vice-president of the Federation of European Carnivals Branko Brumen, the President of the Association of Kurent Unions Vlado Hvalec, the Mayor of Ptuj Miran Senčar, and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Damjana Pečnik.
Kurent is a unique character, the most famous among the surviving Slovenian carnival groups. Its homeland is the villages of the Ptuj field, where it has been kept until now just because people still believe in its ability to ensure the fertility of lands. Initially, during the celebration of Kurentovanje, the Kurent acted together with a group of ploughmen, holding a plough, which symbolically ploughed the land in a peasant’s yard. Owners of farms treated the Kurent or presented a gift for its help. Later, after uniting into groups, Kurent became an independent character.
Inclusion into the UNESCO list does not protect a particular Kurent or its tools, but the rite, beliefs and calling of the Kurents, which they realize precisely during the march through the villages and households. Historically, two different types of Kurents existed. The first one is a feathered Kurent. Besides horns, his head is covered with bird feathers— turkey, buzzard or other carnivorous bird. The second type is a horned Kurent, wearing only powerful horns on its head. It was preserved mainly in the rituals of inhabitants of the Drava field and part of Haloz.