Shrovetide door-to-door processions and masks in the villages of the Hlinecko area

Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Czech Republic



Shrovetide door-to-door processions and masks in the villages of the Hlinecko area

The Shrovetide processions take place in the town of Hlinsko and six nearby villages in the Hlinecko area of Eastern Bohemia in the Czech Republic. This popular carnival custom takes place at the end of winter, during Shrovetide – the period just before the Christian Lent. Village men and boys, disguised in masks that depict traditional characters (red masks for boys and black for married men), go from door to door around the village, accompanied by a brass band. The procession stops at each house and four of the men perform a ritual dance, with the householder’s permission, to secure a rich harvest and prosperity for the family. In return, the masked men receive treats and collect a fee. A symbolic ‘Killing of the Mare’ ritual takes place after the last house has been visited, during which a mare is condemned for its alleged sins and a humorous and topical testament is read out. Following the ‘execution’ the mare is revived with alcohol, signalling the commencement of a dance as the masks frolic with onlookers. The Shrovetide processions – banned in turn by the Catholic Church in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and by the socialist government in the twentieth century – play an important role in securing cohesion within the village community. Young people and children help with the preparations and parents make copies of traditional masks for their sons.


Decision 5.COM 6.11

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 Shrovetide processions are recognized by the communities concerned as their heritage, recreated and transmitted from generation to generation, shaping social relations and strengthening the sense of cohesion and solidarity;
  • R.2: Their inscription on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage at the local, national and international levels, while promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity;
  • R.3: Current and recent efforts to safeguard the Shrovetide processions are presented, and a host of viable interventions are proposed to enhance the safeguarding process, benefitting from the commitment of the State and the communities;
  • R.4: The participation of the communities concerned in the nomination process is adequately demonstrated, alongside their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: The Shrovetide processions were inscribed in 2009 in the List of Intangible Properties of Traditional and Folk Culture of the Czech Republic maintained by the National Institute for Folk Culture.



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