Busó festivities at Mohács: masked end-of-winter carnival custom
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The Busó festivities at Mohács in southern Hungary are a six-day carnival in late February to mark the end of winter, named for the busós, frightening-looking costumed people (traditionally men) wearing wooden masks and big woolly cloaks. The festival is multifaceted, including a children’s costume contest, a display of the art of mask carvers and other craftspeople, the arrival of more than 500 busós in rowboats on the Danube for a march through the city alongside horse-drawn or motorized fantasy vehicles, the burning of a coffin symbolizing winter on a bonfire in the central square, and feasts and music throughout the city. The tradition originated with the Croatian minority in Mohács, but today the busó is a general emblem of the city and a commemoration of the great events of its history. More than a social event, the carnival is an expression of belonging to a city, a social group and a nation. It plays an important social role by offering a chance for self-expression in a communal setting. The arts underlying the festivities are preserved by self-organized groups of busós of all cultural backgrounds, many of whom pass on the techniques of mask carving and ritual celebration to younger generations.
Decision 4.COM 13.42
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The Busó festivities at Mohács bring together the Croat minority in Mohács and their Hungarian, German, Serbian and Roma neighbours who have passed on the tradition for generations, creating a strong sense of local identity and multi-ethnic unity through music, masking, dances and celebration;
- R.2: Inscription on the Representative List would promote the Busó festivities at national and international levels as a vibrant example of cultural pluralism, the continuing creativity and innovation of its practitioners, and the cultural openness of the local community;
- R.3: The community, local authorities and the State are committed to joining forces for the safeguarding of the festivities as part of an inclusive safeguarding strategy that will ensure its viability through educational programmes and promotional activities;
- R.4: The element was nominated following an open consultative process at all stages, bringing together practitioners, festival organizers, non-governmental organizations, experts and local authorities who collectively and clearly demonstrated their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: The element is inscribed on an inventory maintained by the Ministry of Culture and Education, Department of Public Cultural Issues.
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