Ride of the Kings in the south-east of the Czech Republic


Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2010 by National Institute of Folk Culture
The Ride of the Kings takes place during the spring, as a part of the Pentecost traditions, in the towns of Hluk and Kunovice and the villages of Skoronice and Vlčnov. A group of young men ride through a village in a ceremonial procession. The ride is headed by chanters, followed by pageboys with unsheathed sabres who guard the King – a young boy with his face partially covered, holding a rose in his mouth – and the rest of the royal cavalcade. The King and pageboys are dressed in women’s ceremonial costumes, while the other riders are dressed as men. The entourage rides on decorated horses, stopping to chant short rhymes that comment humorously on the character and conduct of spectators. The chanters receive donations for their performance, placed either in a money box or directly into the riders’ boots. The King’s retinue returns home after a few hours of riding, and celebrates in the evening at the house of the King with a small feast, music and dancing. The practices and responsibilities of the Ride of the Kings are transmitted from generation to generation. The traditional paper decorations for the horses and the ceremonial costumes, in particular, are made by women and girls familiar with the processes, colour patterns and shapes specific to each village.