Annual carnival bell ringers’ pageant from the Kastav area

Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Croatia



Annual carnival bell ringers’ pageant from the Kastav area

During the January carnival period, bell ringers march through the villages that dot the Kastav region in north-west Croatia. Clothed in sheepskin throws with bells around their waists and sporting distinctive hats embellished with sprigs of evergreen, two to more than thirty ringers swagger in groups behind a guide carrying a small evergreen tree. They enliven their gait by bumping each others’ hips rhythmically and leaping into the air as they walk. Groups may also include theatrical characters such as a prankster ‘bear’ who regularly escapes the control of his two ‘guards’. When they reach a village, the bell ringers form concentric circles in the town square, ringing fiercely until the residents offer them food and a chance to rest before they continue their journey. At the end of the carnival, the ringers proceed through their own village, collecting rubbish at each house and burning it out front, involving everyone present in the ceremony. With variations distinctive to each village, the annual carnival bell ringers’ pageant is a way to strengthen bonds within the community and a valuable means of renewing friendships among the towns in the region while integrating newcomers into its traditional culture.


Decision 4.COM 13.30

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 element gives its practitioners a sense of identity and continuity, through the costumes, dances and journey that they make; it is passed on from generation to generation;
  • R.2: Inscription of the element would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage at the local, national and international levels and promote respect for cultural diversity and creativity;
  • R.3: Various current and planned safeguarding measures are presented in the nomination, including a number of areas such as education, visibility and documentation, and specifying costs and timelines;
  • R.4: The nomination demonstrates clearly that the practitioners of the element, i.e. the bell ringers, participated at all stages of the nomination process and their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;
  • R.5: The element is inscribed in the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia maintained by the Ministry of Culture.



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