Carnival parade of masquerades in Blatno in the Hlinska district, February 12, 2023, Chrudim region. The tradition has been on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List since 2010.
Hlinsko (Chrudimsko) – More than 30 people took part in the traditional carnival parade of masquerades in Blatno, a district of Hlinsko, today. The event started in the morning in front of the local fire station, where, as tradition dictates, masks were allowed to go on a carnival tour by the 'mayor of the local area', Milan Vaško. About three dozen people watched the start of the ancient ceremony, ČTK said. The carnival procession in Blatno, together with some others in the Hlinska region of Chrudim, has been a UNESCO intangible heritage since 2010.
“At seven o'clock in the morning, I was asked to grant permission to go around, I gave it, and with that the village parade itself could begin. There is a unique atmosphere, we place great emphasis on the traditional appearance of the individual masks,” Vaško told ČTK. Masks and the whole custom are passed down from generation to generation in Blatno. The tour is organized by local volunteer firefighters.
Masks are divided into so-called red and black and represent, for example, a laufra, a woman, Turks or straw men. At the houses, masked Turks dance a ceremonial circle to the musical accompaniment of a band. “The average age of the people who participate in the patrol in masks is around thirty years old. The patrol can certainly last about ten hours, we have over 300 descriptive numbers,” Vaško told ČTK in the morning.
The carnival trip in Blatno has one specific feature among the villages in Hlineck registered on the list of intangible heritage of UNESCO. Women also dress up as some masks in Blatno. According to ethnographer Ilona Vojancová, this tradition originated in the 1970s, when women had to 'step in for men who were absent'.
“As eyewitnesses report, there was a strong year of boys who were in the army – and there was a shortage of those who could take part in the carnival parade. So the women also got involved. They created their own mask, they dress up as gypsies and one girl walks in a gentleman's costume. The gentleman's mask leads the parade together with the laufre. Blaten accepted the participation of women and it has been a tradition there since the 1970s,” Vojancová told ČTK.
In other locations in Hlineck, which are on the UNESCO list, according to her, it is unthinkable that a new mask would appear on the tour and, moreover, that a woman would put it on.
“It is also amazing that today Blatno is part of the town of Hlinska, there are family houses there and Blatno is practically connected to the housing estate. Despite the fact that it already has the character of a town, even though it is a peripheral urban environment, this ancient tradition has been preserved there. Moreover new residents of Blatno who are interested in maintaining this tradition are joining the tour,” said Vojancová.
The carnival festivities in Blatno will end in the early evening again in front of the fire station, where the masks and spectators will see the final ceremony and hear the carnival testament , in which the sins committed by the mare's mask will be remembered. It will then be ceremoniously slaughtered and subsequently resurrected, which symbolizes the banishment of winter and the arrival of spring.
On the list of intangible heritage of UNESCO in Hliniec are carnival errands in the villages of Hamry, Studnice, Vortová and the local part of Hlinsko called Blatno. In these localities, Mardi Gras tours have been held practically without interruption for centuries, and the tradition has been passed down there with minimal changes. Mardi Gras parades are also held in other villages around Hlinsko, but there the continuity of the tradition was interrupted and they are now trying to resume it.