"Notes from the Field" spotlights articles, photos, drawings and observations as seen by researchers as they travel and work throughout the world... We hope to give you an insider's view of field studies via reports sent to CCDR.
The first "in process" field reports are from Vice President of the CCDR Board, Elsie Ivancich Dunin, followed by members Danielle J. Van Dobben, Pegge Vissicaro and Renee Noelle Meiffren. As they become available, additional reports will be added.
The immediacy of e-mail and the technology of the World Wide Web allow Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, Inc. give to our readers an unprecedented look into dance research in action! We realize that this is an unusual format and welcome feedback.
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Photo of Elsie Ivancich Dunin by Sojin. Art by D. Mantione
REPORTS by Elsie Ivancich Dunin
search for Jesuit links:
Chile and Croatia:
ELSIE IVANCICH DUNIN
Professor Emerita (Dance Ethnology) with the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
After she moved to Flagstaff in 1998, CCDR was delighted to stengthen ties with Professor Dunin, who spends much of her time in southeastern Europe with dance research projects. She is also a Dance Research Advisor with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in the capital city of Zagreb, Croatia.
Her communication is in a kind of diary narrative, sent by e-mail to Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, Inc..As such, this is not a traditional form of research publication, but one where the information gets to our readers, in the process of discovery.
CCDR is beginning a new trend for on-line field reporting!
FOR JESUIT LINKS:
DUBROVNIK, SICILY, AND THE YAQUI INDIANS
Dunin spends much time in Europe with various dance research projects. One of them is related to a late 16th century Jesuit priest, Father Basilio. Her communication is in a kind of diary narrative, sent by e-mail to Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, Inc., as she works. As such, this is not a traditional form of research publication, but one where the information gets to you, our readers, as soon as it is uncovered. Perhaps Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, Inc. is beginning a new trend for on-line field reporting.
Dubrovnik, 14 February 2000:
In the DU (Dubrovnik) library/archive found the right literature--all recently published.
"The Jesuits were invited to open a school in DU, within only four years after the 'first' school (in 1548) was established in Messina, Sicily. I knew something like this had to be, because of the strong economic and diplomatic ties between Sicily and DU Republic in this period. Later Jesuits were invited into other areas of Croatia, but DU was first. Jesuits came to DU to begin some inroads of setting up a program, however, due to several circumstances, a 'residency' was not established until 1619. This will certainly be an easy date to remember!!! (This was two years after two Jesuit priests entered Yaqui Indian territory in Sonora, Mexico.) Father Perez de Rivas was reassigned in 1619, but Basilio stayed with the Yaqui for more than 30 years.
"Meanwhile, a major Jesuit church was being built in the mid-17th century in Dubrovnik, but it and the school were destroyed in the DU earthquake of 1667. Another church was designed to look like the one in Rome and some of the paintings inside the church were commissioned to a Sicilian... I visited this very Baroque-looking church (completed in 1725 - see picture below of the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola) yesterday. Although the church is one of the most prominent buildings on a hillside of DU, I never took the time to go before. Now it has meaning. The Jesuit Order was ousted from DU in 1773. The church continues to function under the Jesuits... but I have not learned yet at what year they were able to return--probably in the 19th century, during the Austrian political administration. What is coming to light is that the Jesuits certainly influenced a 'classic' education throughout much of the world--the tall painting placed directly behind the altar in this DU church shows four females surrounding Ignatius with his 'book' symbolizing an education on the four continents (when this painting was created).
Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1725
Rome, 25 May 2000:
Went to Jesuit library near the Vatican this afternoon and am again impressed with the richness and ease for work at the UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) Research Library in comparison with the relatively medieval procedures of the library here. I am so glad that I did my homework at UCLA: except for one book that UCLA does not have. I will be able to get Jesuit materials by inter-library loan through Northern Arizona University's Cline Library next fall.
"Tomorrow I get to experience a Jesuit archive in Palermo. At least I hope to get an orientation, to see if it will be worthwhile to return there in October.
"After this weekend's trip in Sicily, I plan to go to the major Italian 'military' library in Rome to check on a 1617-1618 Venetian maritime confrontation with Spanish ships in the Adriatic (not far from Dubrovnik's shores). This is related to Korcula, because the Venetian ships with their armies happened to spend the winter in a couple villages and in one of them, there exists a 1620 charter for a sword dance group (written in Croatian). I speculate that the Venetians may have introduced some of the 'sword dance' practice to the village men during their 1617-1618 winter layover, and probably stayed through carnival period. If this is true, I will have made a major breakthrough on my historical search about when 'combat' form sword dance movements were incorporated into Korcula's chain sword dance form!
Palermo, Rome, 3 June 2000:
The research mentioned in the May 25 email needs to wait on a back burner... because I took an extra day in Palermo to follow up on Basilio (one of earliest Jesuit priests who happened to spend over thirty years with the Yaqui Indians) and his family background. I did not have time to go to the military library in Rome, so this bit of military research needs to wait until October, when I return to Italy.
"While in Palermo, I made contact with the Jesuit "home" (Casa Profesa based at the Jesuit church that was founded in 1564) to continue the search on Basilio's early years. The librarian for the Palermo Jesuit archival records 'had been ill for several days' and no one else understood the system to be able to help me. One of the Casa Professa priests (who spoke limited English), suggested that I go to the Jesuit archive in Rome that was better organized (which I did the next day).
"In the meantime, while having some free hours in Palermo, I went next to the main library to search for information on 16th century families in Palermo. Bingo! Learned that the Basilio family had a family crest, and that the Basilio or Basile family had moved from the island of Rhodes to Sicily in the 15th Century. I still did not have specific data on Tomas Basilio (our Yaqui priest), but by all indications, he came from an upper class noble family. Some of the family also lived in Messina (on the opposite side of Sicily).
"After a good night's sleep back in Rome, the next morning I rang the bell of the Jesuit Archive at opening time. Three flights of stairs (no elevator-one needs to have decent physical condition to do archival research), and into a well-lit and very well secured space, and luckily for me, present was a priest who spoke English (Father Reddy, originally from Bombay, India). I made my research request for biographical information on Tomas Basilio, a missionary priest who had gone to Mexico in 1616. Father Reddy efficiently guided me toward the primary materials where I could search for a needle in the Latin language haystack (not one of my languages). Bingo again!
"Although I did not have time to finish (my air flight to Croatia was scheduled later that day) -- will need to return to this archive on my return trip to Rome in October -- I was able to piece together, Basilio's year of birth and where he went to Jesuit school (in Palermo). Next I will search, where he was assigned to work before going to Mexico at age 35. This data becomes important, in order to understand Basilio's cultural background and experiences that were brought with him into the Yaqui midst. Already I see indications of western and northern Sicilian Easter traditions with that of the Yaqui !! My speculations about the European basis for the Yaqui Easter ceremonies are more clearly pointing toward Sicily, rather than the assumed southern Spain."
Thoughts about archives, 8 June 2000:
Although it is amazing that the libraries have this level of details stored in their archives, there are probably several reasons for storing this data. For one thing, I suppose that there were people then (back in the 1500s) as now, who love to create databases. The records consist of letters between the head offices and the outlying parishes. There are also work assignments, and student records with their progress from the various schools. The archive has organized this type of information for wherever Jesuits were located in the world. There was the head office in Rome, the regional office in each country, and then local offices. My 'region' is Sicily. But there are similar collections for regions in Spain, Japan, Mexico, etc.
"A priest was expected to write a report to his superior on a regular basis (at least every three months). Rectors of each school wrote progress reports, and also provided lists of students names, entry into the school, classes they took, health and progress of each student (these reports appear to be annual). There is inconsistency on the quality of the record keeping... nevertheless it is there (in Latin). The archive has a "card" on each priest. That is how Basilio (with alternate spellings of his name) was tracked. The priest (from Bombay, India) who is in charge of helping researchers in this Vatican library, looked up Basilio in the card catalog (this info not yet on computer), and then tracked down his name in various indexes, with catalog numbers.
"Then the librarian (a female---did not appear to be a nun) searched for those items (only three at a time) from some back room stacks. I then paged through these records, or letters to find the info. So the steps of search are rather straightforward, and similar to other types of library research projects that I have conducted in libraries and archives in the U.S., South America or in Europe.
"I am reminded of the creation of database fields (for the South Slavic dance project in the 1970s) that Stanley helped me set up on the room-sized Santa Monica computer, just that there are no computers here, but the thinking and organization is very similar to that of the Jesuits.... in their collection and organization of data.
"The next episodes on the Jesuit Basilio and the Venetian military research must wait until October...
all for now,
EASTER IN PALERMO, SICILY: 5-15 APRIL 2001
Here is a follow up on research on the Jesuit priest, Father Basilio, who was one of the first two Jesuits who worked as missionaries among the Yaqui Indians, beginning in 1617. In contrast to the senior Jesuit, Father Perez de Rivas, who stayed only two and a half years with the Yaqui, before being promoted to another position with the Jesuits, the younger Basilio remained with the Yaqui for 37 years, more than any other Jesuit to live and work among the Yaqui. My interest in Basilio was sensitized when I was in Sicily (on another research project related to sword dancing) in May 2000, I came across a book by Antonino Buttitta, EASTER IN SICILY, in Italian and English. The photographs of contemporary Easter rituals, with masked or hooded men, a maypole, decorated urns (all basic aspects among the Yaqui), convinced me that I should learn more about the Sicilian traditions, and their possible relationship to the Yaqui Easter traditions. None of the other secondary sources on Basilio had consistent information about him; in fact each book or article, gives a different year of birth, and no information about his background as a Sicilian. Armed with a little more data on Basilio from the Jesuit Archive in Rome [see report 25 May 2000] and with the Buttitta book, I decided to make my next Easter observation in Palermo, Sicily in 2001 April 5-15.
Field reports sent to CCDR by e-mail from Palermo.
Date, Sunday, 8 April 2001
This a.m. I am getting ready to scout Palm Sunday events. Have not yet had time to find Basilio's neighborhood. Fortunately, I happen to be in a reasonably priced hotel, on one of the oldest main streets of Palermo, which is part of the Medieval and Renaissance period sections of the city. This is significant, because the population size of Palermo is close to a million and stretches out for kilometers!!! So I am close enough to sites that should be part of the area that Basilio experienced in his lifetime. I can walk to the Jesuit church, the old Jesuit college, libraries, plazas, churches, and so on.
I felt I needed to spend precious time on Friday and Saturday a.m. in the regional library. This is a story in itselfanyone becoming any kind of scholar who needs to do library research, becomes a survivor of the fittest; the procedures and number of hoops that one has to go through, just to acquire a book or to make photocopies is a time-consuming, emotional encounter with many clerks, not one who speaks any language but Italian, and who are relatively not cooperative; they have the power of their positions and protocol that must be followed with dotted i's and crossed t's. The endless series of forms have to be filled out just right, and no one to explain what needs to be filled out. When I learned that all of next weekthe only week I am in Palermo, the library will be closed! due to some disinfectant spraying, I knew I had to find what I could on Friday (6 April), the last day to find and order books, for reading and photo-copying on Saturday morning. I did have success with tracking a Palermo sword teacher's manual, published in 1670, with wonderful illustrations of the right hand sword, left hand dagger, or left hand small round shield, or left hand wrapped in a cape or fabric. These are two-handed combinations that I observed in Mexico, with the Yaqui in Arizona, and with Moreska dancers in Croatia. Later published manuals show illustrations with only one fencing type sword. This manual confirmed what I have been learning from other readings, that the two-handed combinations in Western European countries were the fashion in sword training only for about 150 years, through the 16th century into the early 17th century, overlapping the time period for Basilio who would have learned sword techniques during his youth. The 1670 publication is by a Palermo based maestro, and is one of the later publications with the two-handed combinations.
Via Crucis (Way of the Cross)
For me, the unfolding of the Friday night "Way of the Cross" procession (6 April) literally gave me emotional chills!!! Arriving in Palermo, a cosmopolitan city, I was sensing doubts if I would see anything "traditional" continuing out of the past. The procession is "outside," a mass of townspeople with church personnel. Here are the first impression comparative markers that I saw.
1. Night event, lasting two hours, from 9 to 11. The weather tends to be dry!! in contrast to the weather in northern parts of Europe, where it is overcast, still very cold, and apt to rain in the spring. Here in Sicily the weather tends to be drier, so having an outdoor event would be considered common. The northwestern Mexican and Arizona weather is also dry, and conducive to events at night.
2. Carrying and reading from books !! everyone in the procession. One of the priests, reads out loud at each station. The Yaqui maestro and church "group" carry "old" books during their "Way of the Cross" procession, and the maestro reads out loud.
3. A solemn procession started from one church, just outside the old walls of Palermo, and into the main street of Palermo, to the plaza of the large cathedral. (Later I saw that this large cathedral has "way of the cross" stations attached inside the church walls and pillars, but clearly added on and not part of the original design of the cathedral, which was built in the 12th century. Through my earlier readings, I learned that the "Way of the Cross" inside the churches did not become standard until the mid-18th century. The Yaqui church in Pascua, Arizona does not have cross stations inside their church.)
4. In the street, fourteen wooden crosses were held by confraternity men alongside --- the "right" side of the main street of Palermo (the street of my hotel). The procession stopped at each cross, then the three men holding that cross flanked by men holding two torches merged into the procession with the other "way" crosses. The Pascua Yaqui procession proceeds in a counterclockwise path, stopping at the wooden crosses on the right side of their processional group.
5. The confraternity men were dressed in ordinary clothes, but with a hip-length tunic draped over their shoulders, and tied at their waists with a cord, or a length of wooden beads. Each fraternity has its own tunic color or decoration. The Yaqui costumed men are dressed in their normal clothes, except for a blanket-type fabric draped across their soldiers, to hip length. The fabric is tied at the waist with a leather belt holding deer's hoofs.
6. The procession was lead by a lay person holding a wooden cross, with a cloth draped in front of his body in such a way to help carry the weight. The leadership was passed on to different people, including women. I could not determine at what point this happened. The Yaqui procession is also lead by a person carrying a wooden cross (about the same size).
7. Behind the lead cross, two lines of church personnel followed at the outer edges of the street, and then the rest of the people followed in a clump. There were several hundred in the procession, carrying and reading from the "book." The Yaqui processions are also lead by the maestro and church people, followed by a clump of townspeople and flanked on two sides of the group by men.
8. At the cathedral plaza, a (held) cross was stationed at the far end of the plaza, facing the church. After this stop, the procession proceeded toward the church. The Yaqui stop at the "church" cross which is stationed across the plaza in front of the entrance to the church.
9. A red curtain had been placed across the wide opening of the church entrance, green vegetation on either side. A platform was constructed in front of this opening......but I was reminded so much of the wide open doorway of the Yaqui churches. Here was a portico that looked similar !!!
Of course, I have many questions about what I saw. I am finding it difficult to find persons who speak any other language. I try to talk casually with people I encounter, taxi drivers, waiters, clerks in the hotel, library personnel, and so on.....but no one, even professors (except one) I have met, speaks any thing but Italian. I attempt to use my Spanish to communicate, but I am finding that people here do not feel favorable toward Spain or Spaniards. French is OK. English is studied by young people, but they are too insecure and embarrassed to try to speak. So again I am left to observation, but at least I can take photographs, which is not possible among the Yaqui.
April 8-Palm Sunday
Both palm and olive branches are distributed or sold in front of the churches, and on the main streets of old Palermo. The palm is braided, and often decorated with a floral-shaped ribbon. The olive branch may be gilded in silver or gold, and identified with a small paper illustration of a saint. I chose St. Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo.
(photo by E. Dunin)
Each person going to Palm Sunday mass carries a palm or olive branch. The priest and acolytes come outside of the church, there is a blessing, a raising of the branches, and then all return inside for mass. The Yaqui also have an outside ceremony, before returning to the inside of their church to finish the religious aspect of their ceremony.
The palm and olive branches were displayed and sold outside of each church, beginning on Saturday and finished by Sunday noon. Then suddenly the palm vendors all disappeared.
Date: Sunday, 8 April 2001 (unfolding information)
1. This a.m. I walked to the beginning of Friday night's Via Crucis ("way of the cross") path, since I encountered the procession after it had started, and did not see it form, etc. Well, it turns out that the procession began from a church built in 1610, Church of the Madonna dei Rimedi, with a large space in front of it, that is now crossed by a noisy major street and a green wooded park, a space named Piazza Indipendenze [Independent Square]. Leaving from this church, the procession progressed in a counterclockwise path, around the park and then down the street toward the cathedral, so that the held wooden crosses that were the stations were on the right side of the street of the processional group, just as it is with the Yaqui at Pascua.
This Madonna dei Rimedi church is located just outside of the walls and western gate to the old city. This street ("my hotel street") travels relatively straight from the large portal which is adjacent to the eleventh century Norman castle fortress, and goes down to the city port, a distance of about one mile. The Palermo cathedral "Our Lady of the Assumption" where the procession finishes is inside the old walls of the early city and relatively close to the old Norman castle.
The arched gate was constructed in 1583 [Porta Nuova, meaning the new gate] to celebrate Charles V's arrival in Palermo after his victorious military campaign in Tunis. Yes, Carlos V was even here!!! in the early 16th century. The gate was built after his death.
(photo by E. Dunin)
(I am emphasizing dates for myself, to note whether or not our Jesuit Basilio might have experienced these places. He was born in 1581, entered the Jesuit school as a novice in 1600 here in Palermo, and did not go to Messina on the opposite end of Sicily until 1605.)
2. From this gate, I walked the streets to other churches in the section of the old city, constructed mainly between the 13th and 16th centuries. The Basilio family (if indeed from the island of Rhodes) would have possibly moved into this section in the 15th century or early 16th century.
I came across a small church, built just after Basilio's time, but it is SIGNIFICANT for us. Inside were two large platforms to be carried on Good Friday, one for Christ's coffin (urn) and the other for the idol of Mary. As is the tradition during this week, the paintings inside this small church were covered with cloth; do you remember our noting this in Pascua? The inside space, altar, walls were otherwise very plain. The church schedule for Easter week was posted, and I was able to see what the procession path will be through the streets on Good Friday. Also announced on the poster was a list of the costumed characters that will be part of this procession: Roman soldiers, the apostles, Pilate and slaves, and many others for which I need a better dictionary.
I walked outside of the church and happened upon an open door to the left of the main door. Or in other words, if one is facing the church, the door would be on the right side. I walked in. To my delighted surprise (but also embarrassment, because as a female, I should not have been there), I see that this is the meeting space for the church's male confraternity, and all around the room were the Roman military costumes, headdresses, lances, paraphernalia, that will be used on Friday. There were photos on the walls from past Easter events, but I did not feel comfortable, for the eyes of several males were telling me I was an intruder, so I quietly left, just as I had quietly accidentally entered this space.
When I walked outside and looked at the church façade from a parking lot in front, a space that was undoubtedly the square in front of the church before the use of automobiles, I saw a large wooden cross propped up on a small balcony just above the door of this fraternity room. The bell tower was also on this side of the small church. How exciting to see this physical arrangement, because of its similarity to the Yaqui church and designated space of their "soldiers" and paraphernalia, plus the temporary wooden cross in front of their space.
As I walked deeper into this section of town, I looked for more churches and their celebrations of Palm Sunday. I came across several, but did not immediately see the same set up of Christ's urn and platform for Mary, and confraternity room at the side of the church. [However, later in the week I did note the confraternity room alongside older churches, but not churches constructed after the 18th century.)
Many churches post their Easter week calendars on street walls, and I found a couple more announcements of Good Friday processions, but I still have to find the location of those churches. More searching the next couple days.
3. At the entry way to each major church, I came across female or male Gypsies with young children. They were of a familiar type to me, so when I was approached in Italian to pass some lira to them, I spoke to them in Croatian. Shocked at the language, but delighted, they responded in fluent Serbian. There are several family groups who fled the last war, and they are now in Sicily to be safe and to "earn a living." They were very nice and did not beg further from me, but as I continue my church search, I know I will come across more. At least I found some people to "talk" to in a familiar language. They asked me about the situation in Croatia. Was it affected by Kosovo (one of them was a Rom from Kosovo, and in Sicily barely a year). The others I spoke to came during the Croatia and Bosnia war years, and a large family of them is from Mitrovica (in Serbia). They asked if I was now living in Sicily, where my husband was, etc. The youngest children do not speak Serbian, nor much Italian, just Romani. Every beggar at the church entrances and the central post office turned out to be a Serbian Rom !!
(photo by E. Dunin)
4. This p.m. I had the opportunity to watch a "Pupi" theatre --- a marionette show with another of the Song of Roland episodes. These puppeteers purport to be a five-generation family tradition, since 1892 in Palermo. This time I did not have to watch an all night ten- hour program of Carlo Magno paladins including Orlando, fight and kill off the pagan Muslims. This show took only 45 minutes, with a lot of active sword fighting, cutting off heads, splitting the bad guys in two, and doing away with a dragon----some of these scenes are a bit difficult in a human performance. As in Mexico, the costuming and story line is based on convoluted history. Carlo Magno's knights were dressed in Roman style, but here in metal armor, rather than all fabric---metal breast plates, 16th century metal helmets with visors and huge colorful feathers, Moreska style fabric knee-length skirts, but with metal leggings rather than of cloth. In contrast the pagans were in knee-length pants and turbans. All had swords in their right hands and metal shields in their left hands.
In these productions, I have been noticing a theatrical convention, the stage entrance of characters....here in the Sicilian puppet show, in Mexico, and with Moreska in Croatia, from the audience view point, the Christians --- good guys enter from the left, while the Moors or non-Christians enter from the right side of the stage. There must be a relationship......need to follow-up.
(photo by E. Dunin)
Too much intensive excitement. I am coming down with a cold. So off to bed. Tomorrow I hope to be able to search for Basilio's baptismal records, if they did not get destroyed in the 1943 bombing of this city. After almost 60 years, there are still bombed out blocks of buildings that were never reconstructed, and many of these are in the old section of the city where I was walking today.
Date: Tuesday 10 April 2001 (more unfoldings)
Monday and Tuesday were mostly spent in trying to track down information on Basilio and his family, through archival materials. Unfortunately most archives are closed! and no one to tell me about this ahead of time, nor do people have telephone numbers to check with the archive offices. I have to go to the door of the archive and then be told by the doorman, no entry. This was the case with the Palermo biographical room of the Sicilian Regional Library (closed this week for spraying), the Casa Professa Jesuit Library (being renovated), the Diocese archive (closed for Holy week). The open archives were not helpful, such as the Archive of the State ---records do not go back far enough, the adjunct to the Archive of the State on another street, had Jesuit accounting records, but not for the years that I need; the old and sizeable Saint Dominican library, no useful information. I am referred once again to another archive, at the main cathedral parish, but it is open only limited hours, such as later this morning, and to one more private collection. These are sort of my last chances to check on late 16th century documents.
In the meantime, as I am sent from archive to archive, I walk into old churches (those with 15th to 17th century years noted at their entrances) and these churches are all within the old walled part of Palermo. Most every piazza has a church. There are seemingly hundreds of churches in old Palermo. Many have posted flyers of their schedules during all of Lent or for at least Settimana Santa (Holy week). I search for information related to whether or not they participate in the processions. Several do. Also important to note is how often they conduct "way of the cross" and when. Most announce the last two Fridays: the one before Palm Sunday and Good Friday. However, I came across two parishes with "Way of the Cross" every Friday of Lent, and one with a "Way of the Cross" on Wednesday (tonight at 21:00). This particular church is built in 1600, and is located on a busy, busy thoroughfare of Palermo. I do not know if the "Way of the Cross" will be inside, or outside. More on this in my next report.
On one of my walks, I came across posters announcing Holy Week in two other towns, near Palermo. One was with masks in Prizzi (I saw video of this one last Saturday taken by the ethnomusicologist, Dr. Bonanzinga), and the other with maypole ribbons.
(photo by E. Dunin)
Of course my dilemma is time. I have to remind myself that I am not doing doctoral fieldwork, but trying only to confirm the connection between Basilio, his early life experiences connected with what he brought to Mexico. At least I do know that he must have known about these masked Easter events outside of Palermo. Then again, there may have been evidence of this in early Palermo, brought by a mass of townspeople moving into Palermo and the protection of the walled city. There certainly were passion plays in the streets, with costumes. I have come across two announcements of Passion plays this week, but they are occurring outside the old walls in suburbs of Palermo. Since they are happening on Wednesday evening, this is in conflict with the "Way of the Cross" at a church that is near my hotel. So far I have not come across any announcements of Passion plays being done within the old town, but I am sure that in prior years they occurred. I read in Buttitta's book EASTER IN SICILY in the Palermo chapter that some brotherhoods at least a century ago practiced abstinence and also flagellation in the streets. The Yaqui Easter participants supposedly also practice abstinence and flagellation [whipping] as part of their ritual on Wednesday after their tenebrae ritual.
I noted that some processions on Good Friday are scheduled to pass by in front of my hotel. Since there is limited English spoken by the reception desk people, and the reception desk looks directly out into the street, I naturally asked about the processions. A young man said he has been working there only one year, so I asked about his impression of the processions last year. His answer was communicated negatively, the processions are not important to him, he pays no attention, because he is a Jehovah.
Another aside from one of my walks.
I went to a religious music and book shop that is located across the street from the cathedral. I noted that CDs (compact discs) and cassette tapes were being sold, focusing on music of the Lenten period. I bought a CD. I also asked about the "book" that was used during the "Way of the Cross" on Friday night. I was referred to the only woman in the shop who spoke English. I could ask questions! This book was specially prepared by the cathedral this year. However, yes, every year there is a book that is used in the procession. Asking if there were any extra books (left over for this year) available, no there was not. However, she gifted me with her personal copy!!
This tangible "script" for the "way of the cross" procession made it possible for me to compare the "way" held two other occasions, the Holy Week Wednesday and Friday. I noted that each was different in text, and different in the identity of the stations of the cross. Furthermore, the "books" [in reality a script] are prepared by the church personnel at that church, and therefore are not standard. The commonality was the number of stations, fourteen. In my earlier readings on the beginnings of the Way of the Cross, I learned that the stations were not always fourteen in numbers, and even into the 16th century, the number varied anywhere from three to thirty-two ! By Basilio's time, the standard number of stations tended to be fourteen, as is with the Yaqui.
Date: Wednesday, 11 April 2001
The cathedral's parochial archive operates with limited morning hours. As I was waiting for the office to open, a man also showed up early and who knew some English! What luck. I spoke about trying to find late 16th century baptismal documents. He was a researcher and was familiar with the set-up, so he asked the clerk for me, who quickly retrieved a book of records for 1581. I dutifully checked through the scribbly Latin writing, but only came across three Thomas names, and they were not with any Basilio surname.
I had a bad cough, and aching muscles, so I limited the rest of the day to church hopping in the area of the cathedral, where I had not been, found a great bookstore where I eyed more books on Sicilian Easter and rituals, and then to the hotel to rest. I wanted to have energy for the 9 p.m. "way of the cross" procession at a nearby church, San Nicola da Tolentino.
As on Palm Friday, but at another church, the Way took place outside, and in a counterclockwise direction around several blocks, behind the church and to the front of the church. There were only about 60 persons. No wooden crosses were held up as on Palm Friday night, and street traffic was not stopped. We had to stay on the sidewalk, going by store fronts, open cafes, closed municipal offices. The number of each station with its purpose was drawn on poster paper, and held up by a young male teenager. As on Palm Friday, we all had "books." It appears that this church lends the "book" for each "Way of the Cross" procession. The book contains the script of verses pertaining to each cross, for the priest, for individual speakers, and for the responses of the group, as well as the "stabat mater" verses which are sung upon finishing the visits to the crosses, meaning that it is sung between the cross stations. On the Palm Friday, the "Padre Nostro" was recited at the end of each station stop. Upon reaching each station, there is a movement pattern of kneeling and rising. The pattern of movement and speaking at each cross was the same, just the text was different. However, I did notice that the stops for the "Way of the Cross" were not equal distance, and I do not know why. Inside a church the "Way of the Cross" tends to be evenly spaced along the walls. I recall in readings about the history of the "way," that in earlier centuries the distances between stations were based upon the "actual" distance measured in Jerusalem. I do not know if that is the pattern here. The Yaqui have unequal distances between their fourteen crosses.
Inside the church, pots of wheat seedlings were brought by women, and set on the floor in a space designated as the "sepulchre." In this church, a large cross made of red candle lights was set up on the floor, with professional flower arrangements inside the roped space. In other churches, I noted that the sepulchre space was also decorated with flowers, and bowls of wheat seedlings, all about six inches in height. So they must be planted on the same date in advance for them to be the same height. The Yaqui do not have anything similar, except bringing more and more flowers into their church from Wednesday to Friday.
Date: Thursday, 12 April 2001
In the morning, I went to the library of the Gonzaga Institute, away from the center of Palermo. Again I had good fortune of encountering a researcher with some knowledge of English, and who had done doctoral research on Jesuits in Sicily, and knew where and whom to call for information. On location at the Institute, he telephoned a Jesuit priest who assisted, but I was already familiar with the data that he gave me, and in fact, because of my archival research in Rome, I knew that this information on Basilio was incorrect. I let the priest know this, he was grateful, and wrote down the corrections. However, one good outcome of the visit to this Institute, is a referral to yet another archive library, and this time a telephone call from the Gonzaga Institute to make sure it was open. I was determined not to be turned away by a doorman again!
At the Comunal Archivio (next to the Casa Profesa and the Jesuit church) an unexpected encounter. While giving my documents to the doorman, a young female student, also at the entry, noted my attempt at communicating with sign language, etc. and asked in broken English, if I knew the ethnomusicologist Dr. Bonanzinga! Yes! She was one of his students and heard about my research. She was a dream come true. Her graduate research is on early Sicilian Jesuit music, and she knows how to operate in this library/archive. This young woman was an efficient, knowledgeable researcher. She guided me toward various sources, that I would not have known. Before the library's one p.m. closing hour, I found one short biographical paragraph on the Basilio family, and hopefully this will lead me to more information, when I go back to this library on Friday morning.
Holy Thursday at the churches
On church flyers, the late afternoon was listed to have "giro" with horns and drums. I first went to the San Nicolo de Tolentino church (where I attended the Wednesday night "way of the cross"). I was curious if the "walk around" would be the same path as the "Way of the Cross" the night before. It was not. (But it was the same the next day for the Good Friday procession.) And what I saw put the Yaqui fariseos, chapayekum and caballeros into a new perspective !!!!
First, all of the participants are members of male confraternities (with the exception of a military style band that accompanied this "giro"). The costumed and hooded men came out of their brotherhood room to the left side of the church. The military band was clearly an added feature, for it was clear that they were not part of the confraternity; they came individually and waited for the confraternity men in in front of the church.
Leading the parade were black-hooded, black-robed men, with a cord tied at their waists, one clacking a wooden clacker and two others each beating his black-draped drum. Behind them were blue-hooded and white-robed men and one or two of them blowing a mournful sound from an animal horn. With both groups, the fabric hood was over the head with only two small eyeholes.
(photo by E. Dunin)
The horn blowers also had a mouth hole. Behind this masked group were Roman soldiers leading Christ with a cord. Behind them was the "military band," playing march music.
(photo by E. Dunin)
The giro went on a winding path through narrow streets, down the middle of an open market (selling fresh fish, raw meat, cooked artichokes, lemons, tomatoes, fast food, etc), and on to broad avenues, slowing down the car and bus traffic; all this relatively far from the church. The weather however turned very wet, and it was pouring rain, but this was fortunate for me, because the group took shelter enroute in a small church; here I was able to ask questions about the make up of the group, where they were going, something about their costumes, etc. If it had not rained, they would not have stopped, and I would not have had this opportunity. A couple young people knew a limited amount of English vocabulary.
While still daylight, I found two more churches and confraternities with a "giro," but neither of them was so elaborate as the San Nicolo hooded groups, possibly because of the rain. The San Nicolo groups really got soaked. (Reminded me of the 1999 Yaqui year with pouring rain; the event goes on regardless of the rain.) Each of the two churches had a flowered sepulchre, with pots of wheat seedlings. I also went to the main Palermo cathedral to see their set up. In contrast their sepulchre did not have seedlings, and it was not nearly so highly decorated with flowers as the smaller churches, in poorer neighborhoods.
At the San Giovanni alla Guilla church, which is the center for the Brotherhood of Good Friday, was another "bingo" experience. Their Thursday "giro" did not have the Roman soldiers nor Christ, but they did have their black-robed men with a clacker and drums. Inside their small church, and next to their decorated sepulchre, the platform for the grieving Mary, and the urn for Christ, they had set up a display of their Friday costumes, photos of past Good Friday processions, a schematic of the Good Friday procession, and an hour-long video cassette of their year 2000 procession. I could take photos of their costumes, I hand-copied the schemata, and watched most of the hour-long video tape. Having a sense of the arrangement from the chart and comparing it with the video gave me a clearer orientation for the Good Friday processions. The video also made it very clear how crowded the event will be, and also how chaotic it will be to watch as a first-time spectator in those narrow streets.
On Thursday afternoon, the Yaqui's "vijejito" [the old man] is roped and leads a circuit around the stations of the cross. I see now that the "vijejito" is in actuality depicting a captured Christ, as in the San Nicolo fraternities parade through the streets. In my Slavic experience, Christ is referred to colloquially as "stari" [the old one], so that "vijejito" [the old one] is a familiar reference to me.
Date: Sunday, 15 April 2001
Now that I have observed, experienced, and read about the Easter event in Palermo, visited several churches during Palm Friday, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday midnight resurrection, I am summarizing thoughts on the structure of these events and the probable connection with the Yaqui.
Mainly the passion week educates the masses with visual and experiential markers, but this is conducted differently at each church, and by each confraternity. Palermo is a modern city, but with a long-standing Christian history, beginning with Greek-based Byzantium, a Muslim interim by Arab emirs who conquered the island from Byzantium in the 9th century, followed by the Christian Norman conquest in the late 11th century, and who oversaw construction of beautiful and unique style churches and castles combining the artisanship of the Byzantines and the Arabs. Sicily's 14th century history is influenced by the Catalan Aragonese rule, followed by the leadership of Carlos V as the Holy Roman Emperor (who ruled during Cortez's conquest of Mexico early 16th century), and then Sicily remained under Spanish administration until the middle of the nineteenth century when Italy was united. Basilio lived in the period when Sicily and southern Italy were under Spanish administration, and Palermo was the seat of the Spanish Viceroy government. (As an aside, contemporary Sicilians resist my using Spanish to speak to them, and they have an apparent dislike for anything Spanish ! And yet for centuries they were under royal Spanish administration. Furthermore, I did not see library or archival materials in the Spanish language.)
In the contemporary period, the churches are well attended, the society maintains the structure; change and creativity does not seem to be encouraged. The fact that so few Sicilians speak any other language but their own is partial evidence of this. The fact that hospitality to foreigners and to a lone traveling women is not part of the culture, supports the idea of the status quo of the society. Little is known about non-Italian neighbors in Europe outside of the island, nor the other side of the city.
Way of the Cross.
The only combining experience in Palermo was the Via Crucis on Palm Friday. Here the various parishes were hosted by the main cathedral and the "Way of the Cross" was a Palermo experience. Each of the two Via Crucis that I observed was conducted out of doors, and included a "book" with its own script of the passion story. The San Nicolo church on Holy Wednesday provided its own script, which was different from that on Palm Friday, hosted by the cathedral. And I could compare the script of the nationally televised Good Friday Via Crucis at the Rome coliseum with thousands of participants, and the stations were there identified differently. The Rome event was also outside, but the participants stood in one place either inside or outside of the coliseum while only three persons were shown in a walk, two torch holders and a cross holder. The fourteen stations did not match either of the two scripts in Palermo.
In Palermo, some churches have the stations of the cross attached inside the walls or pillars of the churches, but none of the older churches had the stations as part of the original decorative design. According to my readings on the "way of the cross," it was not "standardized" inside the churches until 1731. I did not note anyone conducting the "Way of the Cross" on his/her own inside a church. Each of the two evening Via Crucis in Palermo (Palm Friday and Holy Week Wednesday) used a counterclockwise path outside of the churches. Both used fourteen temporary crosses for the stations.
I noted only one church (which by the way was constructed in the 14th century, and therefore during Basilio's period) conducted a Via Crucis each Friday night during Lent. Other churches had fewer Via Crucis times posted. The Yaqui conduct an outside "Way of the Cross" each Friday night during Lent.
The San Isidoro church fraternity provided a set of costumed characters, including a Christ with cross; he is whipped, showing streaks of blood on his back, and lead by Romans. Hooded men holding crosses were one group. Young women are part of the procession in the roles of three Mary's and Veronica. Roman soldiers in full regalia and lances accompany the carried platforms Christ's urn and Mary.
(photo by E. Dunin)
Several San Nicolo confraternities participated in the procession, the oldest was dated 1590. Here hooded drummers, horn players, clackers, followed by the platforms, crowds, females as Veronicas, and Mary's and carriers of the thorn wreath, hammer and nails, young children dressed as Christ and Mary Addolarata [sorrowful Mary].
Both groups had Christ's urn and the idol of Mary fully decorated with flowers, and flanked by Roman soldiers. However, it becomes clear to me that both these platforms were very baroque in style, and in this form was not likely experienced by Basilio; however, he probably experienced the urn decorated with flowers, as it is decorated by the Yaqui and carried by the military unit.
Saturday night vigil
The day is used by the fraternities to clear the sepulchres and to set up the curtain behind the altar, set up lights inside the church, etc. I noted many confraternities working inside the churches during the day, removing the flowers and wheat seedlings from the sepulchre displays, setting up extra chairs inside the church, and hanging the large curtain across the width of the altar area. Each church had its own color of curtain.
Each church had its own style of vigil, its own "choreography" for the dramatic moments of waiting and resurrection. In one church, there was a very skilled choir of singing, in another a small orchestra, in another speeches in three languages, in another candles held by the parishioners. But in each Christ's rising is a dramatic moment with the sudden drop or removal of the curtain in front of the altar, from dimmed lights to a brightly lit church. Church bell ringing after midnight upon culmination of mass.
Only at the Saint Isidoro church during the late afternoon, was there a "living" tableau performed by young unmarried boys and girls. The visual depicts the three Mary's searching for Christ, an archangel with golden wings guiding the meeting of resurrected Christ and Mary, accompanied by the three Marys, and Christ flanked by young boys dressed as angels appearing from behind a white cloud, and arms stretched out . The dramatic tableau finishes in a cloud, and the spectators file into the church for mass.
(photo by E. Dunin)
Summary for the week.
Not one of the churches presented a full story line of the Passion. Each church and confraternity had its own selected portion and sets of groups. The church personnel does not organize the events, but it is the confraternities who are in charge of the visual passion events, from announcing the schedule with posters, arranging the costumes, the music, the dramatizations, the decorated sepulchres. In contrast the "Way of the Cross" is directed by the church. This is the similar "arrangement" and "organization" by the Yaqui. The processions are handled by the church personnel, while the "events" with costuming, and story line of the Easter passion is directed by the male confraternities.
A person born into the city experiences the parish that one is born into, and does not necessarily go church hopping, as I did. However, a student in the Jesuit college, who studies in more than one city, would necessarily experience different manners of presentation of the Passion. This would have been the case with Basilio, who studied in the Jesuit order five years in Palermo, three years in Messina, two years in Marsala, possibly a full year in Coimbra, Portugal, then at least another year in Marsala, and finally one more year in Messina, before becoming assigned to his mission, arriving in Mexico late 1616. He would have experienced the Easter Passion in each of these Sicilian places and possibly one time in Portugal. He also would have experienced the Easter in his growing up years, but I cannot yet firmly determine where this might have been. In the Rome Jesuit archive Basilio is listed as being a Parnomtanus (one from Palermo). But in other sources the family surname is noted as being from the nobility with a crest, to Sicily from the island of Rhodes in the 15th century, becoming based in Santa Lucia de Mela in the province of Messina, the opposite side of Sicily from Palermo.
Easter in other Sicilian cities and towns also had processions and enactment of Christ's last days, directed by confraternities. Even the small town, Santa Lucia de Mela, where his family is noted as living, is recorded with Easter week traditions. It is clear that Basilio experienced this most holy of traditions, and very likely in various forms, in Palermo and the other cities during his Jesuit studies, Messina, Trapani, Marsala, and possibly one season in Coimbra, Portugal. It becomes clear that Basilio's knowledge and experiences with the Easter passion is wholly within Sicily, and this is the mind/body knowledge that he brought into his missionary work as a first generation Jesuit within the Yaqui territory.
34TH INTERNATIONAL FOLKLORE FESTIVAL
[34. MEDUNARODNA SMOTRA FOLKLORA],
Zagreb, Croatia, 19-23 July 2000
Dr. Vitez and Vido Bagur were the
principal artistic directors and organizers of the festival, and this
year's theme took three years of research and planning. Other
specialists in carnival were also consulted, such as Lidija Nikocevic
for northwestern Croatia, and Zvonimir Toldi for the eastern Croatian
Baranja area. Both Vitez and Bagur visited winter events to document
with film and video. They subsequently invited selected groups not
normally part of the folklore festival to participate in the carnival
theme in year 2000. Here is also the challenge --- to invite
villagers who are part of a spontaneous and improvised annual event,
and to guide them into a presentation of their customs for an
unfamiliar public and in front of television cameras. The experience
and knowledge of both Vitez and Bagur made for a masterful
production. Their personal contact with all the participants "in the
field" at actual events made it possible for Bagur to guide (and
condense) "their" event into an understandable occasion on and off
Zagreb's festival stage.
Each smotra (festival) expresses its own character, depending upon its theme and combination of invited groups, but reliably I find that the most lively spot in Zagreb during the festival days is the site where the groups are housed and given meals the University Student Center. This year was especially noisy not only with spontaneous singing, tamburica and accordion music, but with incessant bell ringing, often accompanied by male ojkanje singing (matching voices in a type of loud calling). The "bell ringers" of the winter carnival men from Sicily, from southern Germany, Croatians from Hungary and Bosnia and Hercegovina, and from all sides of Croatia ---the island of Rab, peninsula of Istria, karst mountain villages near Split and Sinj, from the Pannonian plains of Baranja and Slavonija. Bells of all shapes and sizes, deep-sounding, or tinkling, in synchronous rhythms to a jangle of metal soundsday and night into all hours. Somehow there is a re-energizing during night hours, probably attributed to cooler temperatures.
Most of the carnival traditions occur during the middle of winter months: from January to early March. And this festival takes place during mid-July. Fortunately an oppressive heat wave hit Croatia earlier, then cooled by rains, and so now the mid-July temperatures are bearable for these heavy and layered winter costumes. The bells tend to be attached to belts worn around the waist or on straps across the back, on top of animal skins, usually shaggy sheep hair; the men usually hold a weapon type implement, blackened or masked faces. The masks vary from anthropomorphic to "pretty" plastic faces topped with hats covered with flowers and dangling long ribbons. Indeed the
arrival of these bell-clanging creatures from the mountain areas of Croatia and into the streets and center square of Zagreb was a traffic-stopping occurrence.
Usually the international festival is composed of "experienced and already organized" groups, who are aware of time limitations, of the need for "rehearsals," of limited spatial conditions, ramps to the stages, microphones, wires, multiple cameras, facings toward an audience or finding a spot under a hanging microphone, and so on. This year's "groups" also included "non-groups" --- that is, men who were loosely organized for one of the recent year's carnival event in their own village, and who "live" their event, but never thought to "show" their customs outside of their locale.
As an observer of this process, I was fascinated by how the men from among the "non-organize groups" took on their new roles in Zagreb . the men from Gljev who wear a two-meter high animal skin headdress, stripped rags on their bodies, large cow-bells at their waists. In their January event in their home environment of rocky mountainous terrain, they trot and run a distance of thirty kilometers (approximately 18 miles) in a circuit of villages within one day. They are noisy, boisterous, and with a constant dynamic bouncing movement that make their combined bell-ringing into a clanging, clattering din. In Zagreb with their costumes on, they also maintained a continuous trotting, running, jumping or step-hopping in place, while shouting or singing to each other. A four to five foot stick was held by one of their hands to keep their tall head gear upright on their heads while in locomotion. Their costumes influenced them to become unpredictable characters. They could be pushingly aggressive, boisterously inquisitive, outrageous in mimicking an animal, while in constant movement (jumping, running). Once they were out of costume, they became "normal" in their movement behavior.
This switch in character from carnival costume to regular street dress was noted within other groups as well. Whenever a headdress or mask was donned, the person changed his behavior to an outlandish enactment .even though it was mid-July and not actual winter carnival time. Other shaggy sheepskin groups from within Croatia were from 1) Baranja, the village of Draz (there is an ethnographic film of these "buse" available in the UCLA Media Library); 2) Turcisce in Medimurja; 3) Viskovo from the mountains near the northern Adriatic Sea area; 4) Donja Bebrina from the Slavonski Brod area in Slavonija; 5) from Strizivojna from the Osijek area. From Bosnia and Hercegovina, the "furry men" were depicted by Croatians from the villages of Vijaka and Vares and from Hungary from the town of Mohacs; by Italians from the town of Mamoiada in Sardinia; and by Slovenians from Videm near Ptuj in eastern Slovenia. "Bell-ringers" from other areas did not wear sheepskins, but some sort of heavy overcoat, such as from villages Neoric and Sutina from the Dalmatian mountain area near Split.
Although "bell-ringers" with covered heads or masks were a dominant feature of these carnival groups, other characters were also depicted. There were "giant" dolls, backward facing dancers, a doll to look as a second person carrying a basket, men dressed as young or old women; men dressed as brides, men dressed as mothers with babies, two men dressed inside one dress; shaggy-clowns, hobby-horses in white lace for a team of horses; shoemakers, two men enacting a four-legged cow, capturing young women or other unsuspecting person, and so on ...
Opposing features were typically displayed: good with evil, stretching of outlandish behavior contrasted with the norm, noisiness with quiet, pretend with reality, ugly with pretty, grossness with delicacy, exchange of male into female characters, and satire of sexual couplings all become highlighted and emphasized. Spectator children are bewildered or frightened by the masked characters and noise, while adults are uncomfortably titillated by the sexual fornication displays.
Two groups from islands, Lastovo and Rab, and a group from the Peljesac peninsula showed their carnival dances, and it is interesting to note that they performed structured dances, in contrast to the carnival groups from the mainland, where the bell-ringers and clowns perform improvised movements and do not perform prescribed patterns. Furthermore, each of the coastal groups performed with swords (wooden or metal) or a type of metal stick.
The five-day sequence of the festival began with an opening of a small museum display of "Carnival costumes of Sokci, the Croats from the Baranja region" along with photographs of old and current events. The next day featured a showing of two ethnographic documentary films of carnival in the northwestern areas of Croatia. One by film-maker Aleksej Gotthardi-Pavlovsky showing traditions from the Novi Vinodolski area, and the other of "bell-ringers" from the mountain area near Rijeka on the northern Adriatic coast, directed by anthropologist Lidija Nikocevic. In addition the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research promoted two new compact disks (CDs) of traditional music examples from the mountain and coastal areas and from the lowland and central areas of Croatia.
The next three days and evenings were devoted to short performances of the carnival groups in various locations in Zagreb, and in the evenings of Friday and Sunday, full programs of selected groups on a stage located in the "old center" of the city. On Saturday night, all twenty groups performed a synopsis of their events, for a live television program, with elected officials of the Croatian and municipal governments in front rows of the audience. Some of the "clowns" and "furry creatures" played unanticipated antics on these "very important people." About 500 people watched each of the three evening performances.
Although most of these carnival characters are described in a 1997 book by Dr. Ivan Lozica, HRVATSKI KARNEVALI (Croatian carnivals) published by Golden Marketing in Zagreb, words cannot describe the antics, the flavor, the dynamics of these characters. I was one of the fortunate ethnochoreologists who had the opportunity to see a comparative range of these groups over three days not likely to be brought together again in the future. These selected carnival depictions, carefully guided into a festival program by Vitez and Bagur was a truly informative and memorable
The "34. Medunarodna Smotra Folklora" is under the patronage of the Croatian National Parliament, with support from the Ministry of Culture of Croatia, the Mayor's office of the City of Zagreb, the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb, and the Italian Institute for Culture in Zagreb. The entire program is coordinated by the Zagreb Concert Office and the International Folklore Festival Council. The artistic director of the festival is Dr. Zorica Vitez; professional advisor is Vido Bagur; assistants in preparing the program, Lidija Nikocevic and Zvonimir Toldi.
This report written by Elsie Ivancich Dunin about the Carnival theme festival that took place in Zagreb, has been submitted for publication in the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) Dance Newsletter.
© 2000 Elsie Ivancich Dunin
"What is carnival?" 19 February 2002
The winter "dance season" came to my attention during a sabbatical year spent in the Dubrovnik area 1976-1977. After my retirement from UCLA, this sabbatical experience became the basis for future annual visits to Croatia (1997-onward). During the interim twenty years, the academic calendar in Los Angeles restricted me from the "crazy winter season" events in southeastern Europe, and even though the cold and uncomfortable winter weather provides a difficult environment for field observations, especially for someone who has spent most of her life in mild southern California, it has been worth the effort!! to travel to Croatia each winter with a result of expanding understandings of these seasonal events.
The first (February 1977) masquerade experience in Gromaca village became a theme for a paper that I presented at the Study Group on Ethnochoreology Symposium held in Poland, in 1994, and this year (2002) that paper, "Continuities and changes: interrelationships of ritual and social dance contexts in Dubrovnik-area villages" will be published in the ICTM Yearbook, this issue featuring ethnochoreology research.
The next meaningful winter experiences were twenty years later, 1997 and 1998, when I participated and observed poklade in seaside villages (in contrast to Gromaca, a nearby mountain-side village), all about a half hour drive northwest of Dubrovnik. See report "Carnival near Dubrovnik." (report below will be linked)
Then for three years (1999, 2000, 2001), I traveled to a small island, Lastovo, off the southern coast of Croatia to attend their poklade featuring sword dancing. The report of that event was shared with the members of the sub-study group on ritual complexes in comparative perspective (part of the Study Group on Ethnochoreology). This report was also published in a quarterly for those interested in sword dancing, RUMB (Rattle Up My Boys), edited by Trevor Stone and published in England. Two years later, Mr. Stone and Renaat Van Craenenbroeck (a sword dance researcher and leader of the Belgian Lange Wapper group) accompanied me to Lastovo to observe this extraordinary event with linked sword dancing in its annual winter context.
I repeated my carnival time observations on this island (bitterly damp cold in the winter) because I was seeing parallels in certain characteristics of the Lastovo carnival event with the Yaqui Easter cycle. I presented some of these findings in a paper: "20th-16th century comparative links: Yaqui Indians (North America); Lastovo Island (European Mediterranean)" to the Study Group on Ethnochoreology at their international symposium held on another of Croatia's islands, Korcula, in July, 2000. The paper was printed in the Proceedings of that meeting, published by the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb.
In 2000, I also attended Zagreb's 34th International Folklore Review (Medunarodni Smotra Folklora), whose theme was "carnival." See report already posted.
This year, I stayed on the Croatian mainland in the Dubrovnik area acquiring another experience of carnival events. I photographed some of the dynamic carnival period in the local villages, but when the wind was blowing, or it was raining, my new experience was to stay warm indoors with satellite television to watch dynamic carnival events being televised live in other countries.
A question was posed to CCDR by a young woman in Flagstaff. "What is carnival?" Joann Kealiinohomoku e-mailed her question to me in Croatia, causing me to think more wholly in composing a succinct answer based on my past and current observations.
To most Americans, "carnival" is an entertainment or amusement center with a ferris wheel, roller coasters, games for prizes, or for some it is a fun time and parades in the winter. Some think of scantly costumed females for Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro or in New Orleans.
Based on my experiences in Croatia and this year having the opportunity to observe more events through live television coverage and viewing ethnographic reports of carnival events, I gave her the following synopsis.
"Carnival" is a series of festive and masquerading events over several weekends and finishes on Tuesday, the eve of "Ash Wednesday" which is the beginning of the austere Lenten period, leading up to Easter. The number of carnival weeks depends upon the date of Easter and thus the beginning of Lent. This year carnival time is shorter, because Easter occurs "early" (and another reason for cold and damp weather). Last year carnival lasted three weeks longer, because Easter was three weeks later than this year.
There are pre-Christian antecedents (written up in folklore collections), and which the Protestant branches of the Christian religion managed to eliminate by the 17th century (particularly northwestern Europe, so that early Anglo America does not observe carnival), but in most Catholic areas of Europe, such as southern and western Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, some of these winter pagan observances became part of the Christian Catholic religious calendar (most Americans are familiar with Mardi Gras in Portuguese-based Brazil, and French-based New Orleans, etc.)
In Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Russia, there are also carnival activities, but with the Julian calendar. So the Catholic and Orthodox carnival dates coincide only when Easter falls on the same date—about every seven years? Last year, the two Easters were on the same date, but this year they are five weeks apart. So this year Eastern Orthodox carnival events are just getting started, when Lent has already begun with the Gregorian calendar.
The "pagan" type festivities begin in January (on a Saint's Day), and last through to the eve of Ash Wednesday (in some areas known as the Big Wednesday).
This is a "dancing season" when masquerade dances (balls) are hosted weekly after the January saint's day. In urban and tourist centers, these are dance events sponsored in hotel ballrooms, restaurants, or public halls. Then on one or two Sundays, before Ash Wednesday, children are featured and dress in costumes (similar to US Halloween themes) and visit house-to-house to collect sweets and eggs. This does not happen everywhere in Europe, but in isolated local areas. For instance, the house-to-house visitation custom occurs on Lastovo, one of the Croatian islands but not in the Croatian coastal area near Dubrovnik.
Not only children go from house-to-house, but adult groups formed especially for carnival select a costume theme, and also do visitations, get drunk, feast on bacon and sausages, collect eggs, and have the acceptance to act "crazy" (the Croatian word is "ludost"). The height of the "crazy" days is the last long weekend, Sunday through Tuesday night, when you can dance, make merry, drink, eat meat and other greasy foods, masquerade yourself, act crazy in public, and then at midnight on Tuesday, with church bells ringing, you must return to "normal"…. no dancing, no music, no fatty foods. In some areas, either on Tuesday night or Wednesday a.m., a "carnival" straw-stuffed effigy is burned at the stake, or tossed into the sea or river, to drown — symbolically to rid people of all the sinful things that happened during the year.
Carnival is a secular event, and not a national holiday.
The last Sunday and the last Tuesday are usually the major carnival dates with special events.
The closest parallel in the U.S. is Halloween, when there are children's house-to-house trick or treating, and costumed masquerade dance events. However, Halloween lasts one night, and maybe a weekend. Carnival in many of parts of Europe is a four to five-day long weekend, and in some areas, multi-weekends, beginning in January. Overall it is a very festive time, full of dynamic energy, supported by radio, TV, and civic sponsored dance and music events.
Carnival is thought of as an annual personal and public time to let loose and have fun !!! Sure helps one to get through the dreary overcast chilly winter nights in much of Europe.
Carnival parades on television.
Rijeka, a port city on the northern Adriatic coast, and Zupanije, a town in the flat plains of Croatia, both sponsor parades with costumed and masked participants. The Rijeka parade is older, and has many urban groups in contemporary themes, plus includes local village zvoncari (bell ringers) who come down from the mountain villages to parade noisily by rocking their torsos to ring large cow bells hung on the back of their waists. The zvoncari are indicative of an older layer of costume and winter ritual, found also in other areas of Europe---Alpine countries, Spain, Sardegna, Sicily, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greek islands.
In the Rijeka and Zupanja parades there are thousands of participants, representing hundreds of themes. The television coverage of the Rijeka parade reveals that the event has grown in size and stature, since I last saw it --- remembering that I have been on a small island for three years, I did not have contact with what else was happening in Croatia.
Also on TV is coverage of a parade in Zupanje in the Slavonija area. The dynamics and multitude of themes are also here, but the costuming is of a more traditional nature from local Slavonian villages, whereas the Rijeka groups tend to create their costumes and themes around topical current events and subjects, such as Teletubbies, or satirizing the building of a new bus station, and so on.
I have satellite, so am also catching carnival parades in Germany. They are similar to the Rijeka type of parade. Mainly I am amazed at the number of people who participate-----in each parade, multi-thousands of masqueraders!! In parts of Europe, carnival is "crazy fun time" and the closest parallel are the parades of masked and costumed (in South America, at least rather scantily) dancers, musicians, floats, color, flamboyancy, and so on. On satellite television, one sees a range of carnival events, from Germany, Alpine countries of Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia, to Venice, Italy, to Brazil, Bolivia, and New Orleans. See a Reuters report by David Crossland "Carnival fever grips normally sedate Germany" in a description of the parade in Cologne, Germany.
The German events are incredible !!! hundreds of thousands in costume parades that last hours !!! The costuming tends to be organized by groups in themes, such as the popular children's teletubbies, hundreds of them! or space characters; this year much commentary on the Euro currency; the usual masked ogres; witches; Italian pizza makers, etc, etc, etc. Imagine a parade that lasts several hours, no horses, no bare skin (too cold), no mechanized floats, some brass bands also in full costume, and only masqueraders in creative theme costumes, with noise makers, and crazy antics. At night (also viewed on German TV) there are carnival parties with entertainment. Paying revelers in costume sit at long tables, with much alcohol drinking and animation, and watch a non-stop show (hours long!) of comedians, dancers, and musicians. The dancing is of a particular style--- reminds me of energetic aerobic "can can" with high kicks, acrobatics, jumping splits, solo, in pairs, or Rockette type female groups with women of all sizes and shapes, but all dressed in unison costumes of short full skirts, puffy short sleeves, and brimmed hats with false braids---usually blond.). The style of dancing is the same with any combination of dancers. I am reminded of the kind of acrobatic dance training that I got as a child from my German-born teacher. !!! I wonder if there is a continuity of this style?
Would like to know what goes on in Spain or Portugal, but have not seen any television coverage.
From Venice, one sees "beautiful" masqueraders----much 18th century style outfits and "pretty" masks. The behavior is very sedate, and the parading is quiet and "cultured." What a contrast to the "ugly" masks and antics from Germany.
Synopsizing to the young woman in Flagstaff----What is carnival???
It depends upon where you are in Europe, but what I saw on German and Venetian television, coverage of carnival in Brazil, Bolivia, and New Orleans, and here in Croatia, it is a dynamic time period, with loud sound making,, dancing, embodying alternative identities with costume, masks, movement, that you do not do any other time in the year. It is a let loose, have fun, with social acceptance, until the beginning of Lent---back to normal.
My re-entry into normalcy……and re-thinking what I learned from the observations this year (2002), new observations were the German and Venetian coverage---real contrasts, as I saw on Lastovo----the "ugly masks" and the "pretty masks" at the same event. In southern German parades, one tends to see the grotesque, the ugly, the ogres, while in Venice, one tends to see depicted the "elegant" the "beautiful."
Are there parallels?
All for this year and its winter craziness…..signing off, Elsie
REENACTMENT, 7 SEPTEMBER 2000, OF THE 1298 SEA BATTLE IN FRONT OF KORCULA.......
"CAPTURE OF MARKO POLO"
How does this event connect with my dance research? It is the name "Polo" (De Polo or Depolo) in the fortified city of Korcula, on the island of Korcula on the Croatian Adriatic coast. Even though there is no hard evidence that Marko Polo was born in the town of Korcula, we do know that the Polo family surname has a long lineage in Korcula.
Here is the story.
In literature on Moreska, I found that Depolo names are included in an 1884 list of dancers. In 1986, I came across data on Korcula Depolo families in Punta Arenas, the most southern city of the South America continent. They performed leading roles in the Korcula Moreska dance on January 1, 1901. In 1998 back in Korcula I interviewed Frano Depolo who performed as the Black King in Moreska for most of his life. It seems that the tradition of dancing in the Black army (the Moros, instead of the White army, the Turks) has been a continuing tradition in his family, for his father and grandfather were dancers, and Frano's own son became a Black King in Moreska, following Frano's retirement. It is also worth noting that in Korcula, only Korcula-born males can participate in the Moreska mock combat dancing.
(Frano Depolo. Photo in Moreska: the war dance from Korcula, 1974)
Based on baptismal and marriage records (located in the Dubrovnik history archives), I found that the Depolo family names could be traced back at least to the 16th century (mid-1500s). In fact five of the family surnames from the 1884 Moreska list could be traced to the 16th century. There is no data to show that these families were Moreska dancers in the 16th century, but there is evidence that there is a long lineage of these names over at least five centuries, and furthermore, all these families were traditionally shipbuilderscarpenters or smiths. The point is, that the Polo or Depolo surname is in Korcula for centuries, and more recent research has uncovered additional data. See website: http://www.korcula.net/mpolo/index.html
At any rate, even though there is no firm data on the birth of Marko Polo in Korcula, there is evidence of his being captured on 7 September 1298, during the naval battle between two maritime powers: Venice and Genoa. During this period, the island of Korcula was under Venetian administration. There is written evidence of Marko Polo (calculated at age 44), to have commanded his own ship with 120 oarsmen. The 1298 year would have been only two years after the return of his 17-year trip to Asia. It was in the Genoa prison, that a fellow prisoner, a writer of romantic tales from the town of Pisa, wrote down the stories that Polo dictated. Marko apparently was not skilled in Latin, nor of any other literary language, but rich in stories. If he had not been captured, his travel stories may never have become known.
Now back to the original battle and its reenactment....
In Korcula's attempt to feature its Marko Polo heritage, the International Centre Marko Polo was founded to encourage a forum for additional research on Marko Polo and his family, lectures on new findings, and to assist with publications. An annual event was initiated in 1998 for the 700 anniversary of the 1298 maritime battle, with an enactment of the battle in the "aquatorium" near Korcula's walled city. The enactment is a tremendous undertaking, even in diminished number of ships, and length of battle from the originally chronicled battle.
In 1298, the Venetians had assembled their biggest fleet with 96 galleys and three large ships. The Genoese fleet consisted of only 15 galleys, joined by 15 more at the end. Note that these were all "oared" and at this period, gun powder was not yet used. (The only other fleet of this magnitude was assembled three centuries later [with guns and cannons], for the battle of Lepanto, Greece in 1571, when a league of the then Western Christian powers fought against the Ottoman Turkish navy.) It appears that the 1298 strategy was to "ram" the other boats, to catapault fire, to cause a capsize, to cause confusion and to come near enough to allow boarding for hand-to-hand battle. This was not a time of radio or cell phones, so communication was by signal flags, or sound -- calls, trumpets or drum cues. The Venetian losses were extreme: 18 sunk galleys, 66 captured galleys, 7000 soldiers, sailors, and rowers killed, and 7400 captured, Marko Polo among them.
To do the reenactment, fishing boats, water taxi's, and private ferry lines from all around Korcula island, the other local islands and peninsula were called upon to act as Venetians or Genoese. On larger boats, Korcula's village Kumpanija chain-sword dance groups in their costumes and swords, with their drummers participated as the soldiers. In 1998, I am told that some 50 boats were involved in the "skirmish." Marko Polo and some other personnel were in period costumes. This year (2000), the size of the enactment was very, very, very smallmainly due to rain and bad weather. Only about five boats were in the aquatorium, including Marco Polo's boat with four oarsmen. The boats circled around each other (clockwise) three times, and a large boat (with Kumpanija soldiers from one of Korcula's villages) "captured" Polo's small fishing boat. Shouting and drumming could be heard, while smoke was billowing. The whole event (watching from under an umbrella in the rain) took about an hour, and Polo was brought ashore and marched to a drumbeat into Korcula's prison, inside the walls of the city.
The reenactment was "dampened," but I hope to come back in another year. It was fascinating to watch, even with motorized boats, and to imagine Marco Polo's oared boat with 120 oarsmen instead of four. It was fun to learn about the history, to try to understand how and why so many ships were assembled for the battle, why there were so many losses, and so on. Furthermore, in my quest to understand sword dances, this was an event, when hand-to-hand battle with swords was a basis for fighting, even on the sea......and why a dance such as Moreska was part of the lore and experience of some of the population who lived generations ago and continue to live in Korcula, such as the Polo family lineage.
For expanded information on the 1298 battle, see
DEPOLO AND MORESKA ON THREE CONTINENTS, 11 MARCH 2002
Research is fun even if it takes 28 years for connections.
Sword dance research has certainly become exciting in my life! As I was pursuing other dance forms and their events in their cultural continuities within the Croatian Diaspora, the Moreska from the Croatian Korcula island came to light even when I was not actively pursuing this dance form in my field work.
Actually my sensitivity to the sword dance material is due to the family name Depolo. One of my husband's business friends in Los Angeles, was Eugene Depolo, born in New York, named after his father, who was born on the southern tip of South America, Punta Arenas, and whose father in turn (Gene's grandfather) Miguel, had emigrated from a Croatian island. Gene knew nothing of his Croatian genealogy, knew very little about his Chilean family members. He was an engineer and a computer programmer, and loved to ski.
However, his name Depolo unexpectedly fused together an aspect of my dance research of the Croatian Diaspora in the Americas over the last 28 years (1974-2002).
In 1974, I had initiated a study of continuities and changes in dance and dancing within the South Slavic community dance events in California compared with the source areas of the first generation South Slavs, who had mainly emigrated from the Croatian coast (in contrast to South Slavs from the interior of former Yugoslavia, who had immigrated to industrial centers in the U.S. I started interviews with first generation coastal Slavs in major California communities, such as the apple orchard capital, Watsonville. To this day, there are many four-generation families from the Croatian Adriatic coastal areas in Watsonville since the late 19th century. The research through interviews brought me to a Korcula island-born-Croatian who was in his 80s and who mentioned that a Depolo (no first name) instructed a group in the Moreska dance in 1914. I filed away this information with the rest of my notes. Taking this comparative research to Chile in 1986 and to the southern tip of Chile, Punta Arenas, and while scanning Spanish language newspapers for dance events, my eye happened to catch an article about an event at the turn of the century, January 1, mentioning Depolo performers in Morisca. While in this cold and windy town on the Straits of Magellen, I interviewed members of Gene's Depolo family, who were not involved with any dance activities, nor did not know very much about their Croatian heritage on Korcula island.
After my retirement from UCLA, and having more time to pursue research, I spent time in 1998 checking on Depolo genealogy along with other known surnames having performed Moreska in the late 19th century in Korcula. I became sort of an amateur genealogist with birth and marriage records from Korcula town stored in the Dubrovnik History Archives. While in Korcula in 1998, I was given an e-mail address of a Gary Depolo in the San Francisco area, to see if there was any connection with the Depolo family in Chile. There was none, but a brief informative listing of this northern California Depolo family was sent to me.
During a symposium "Moreska: Past and Present" (which I organized), held in Korcula 2001, a newspaper article published in Zadar (a Croatian Adriatic coastal town) was cited by historian. This brief article was about a performance in San Francisco, 1903 and listed still another Depolo as one of the principal performers.
In 2002 while working on an article, "Korcula Moreska in the Americas," I was drawn to a book on my shelf, a1939 souvenir booklet of an event on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. Lo and behold, there was a photo of an Antone Depolo as a leader of the Sokol in Oakland that performed in this event. Suddenly there was the exciting realization that this Anton is possibly the same Depolo who was mentioned in the interview in 1974 in Watsonville. I immediately sent a cyberspace message from Croatia to Gary Depolo in California, and within 24 hours, I had verification by this Depolo grandson that Anton in Oakland indeed was his grandfather. A full circle. Lacking any of these pieces of information, would not have allowed the conclusion that three different Depolo performers were responsible for leading the Moreska in the Americas, far from Korcula: in Punta Arenas—1901, in San Francisco—1903, and Oakland—1914. All three events were completely independent of each other, but connected in that the leadership was by three different Depolo families from the town of Korcula, and in addition all three were traditionally blacksmith families.
The name Depolo was the link to this Moreska research in the Americas, and lacking any piece of the research in 1974 in Watsonville, 1986 in Punta Arenas, 1998 in Dubrovnik, and 2001 in Korcula could not have completed the knowledge of three different Depolo emigrant men who were responsible for the performance of the unique Moreska sword dance in the Americas.
FIELD TRIP TO MEXICO TO OBSERVE SWORD DANCE GROUPS, 5-12 DECEMBER 2000
"Moreska" on Korcula island on Croatia's Adriatic coast and "Los Moros" and "Doce pares de Francia" in central and southern Mexico provide a historical window between the 21st and 16th centuries. I am seeing that these sword dance groups with their events can be compared even though they are not geographically nor culturally connected. Some of the clues I am uncovering are related to theatrical fashions based on when the dances were introduced from Europe to the Americas in the 16th century period. The type of swords, the techniques of the mock sword combat, the structure of the presentations and the costumes worn by the dancers, and more.....
In the summer of 2000, the biennial symposium of the Study Group on Ethnochoreology of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) was held in the town of Korcula on the island of Korcula along the Adriatic coast of Croatia. One of the themes of the symposium was "Sword dances and related calendrical dance events," which attracted a large attendance of ethnochoreologists from many countries. Fortuitously, Dr. Carlo Bonfiglioli from Mexico, a dance anthropologist and specialist in the conquest dance genre participated in the meeting.
As one of the host organizers of this symposium, I was particularly interested in learning if the sword dance groups and their dances (mock combat and linked swords) on Korcula island were similar to sword dance groups in other areas in the world. Croatian historians and ethnochoreologists have not been able to trace the origins or time period when these dances were introduced to the island. The earliest written record of a Korcula Moreska performance dates back to the late 17th century. But nowhere have Croatian specialists identified a similar combat dance nor costume. The Korcula Moreska seems to be an isolated survival from the past until this observation of sword dances on another continent.
The Moreska sword dance entails two armies, "white" and "black" or Turks and Moors. The Black king (Moor dressed in black) has abducted a beautiful female (bula) from the White king (Turk dressed in red). There is dialog between the principals, and then a challenge by the Black king, which starts a battle between the two armies. There are seven sets of sword combat figures, with a walking pause between each set. The combat is performed in a circle, and the last set is performed with the victors (red-dressed army) encircling and defeating he Moorish army. The bula is rescued and the white king (dressed in red) marches off with his army and female. [See web site on Korcula and its Moreska: ]
After watching the Korcula Moreska in a performance in July 2000, Dr. Bonfiglioli suggested that I look at a performance of the "Doce Pares de Francia" in Mexico. There may be similarities.
Several months later after my return to the U.S., Dr. Bonfiglioli informed me that the Doce Pares would be performed in the village of his anthropology doctoral fieldwork in Mexico. He was planning to attend the event with some of his university students. This was a special occasion, since Doce Pares is not performed every year, and the last occasion was in 1993, seven years earlier. Checking a map of Mexico, I could not find his mountain village, but its location within the southern state of Guerrero, has its well-known city of beach-side tourist resorts, Acapulco. This meant I could fly from Arizona to Acapulco, and then take a five-hour bus ride to the village with the Doce Pares event.
Traveling from the north of Arizona, and leaving in the early morning while the temperature was minus 10 degrees Celsius and 20% humidity and arriving the same evening in Acapulco, with 45 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity was a bit of a shock to my well-dressed body, but at least I did not have to account for jet lag. Mainly this December climate in the Costa Chica area on the Pacific side of southern Mexico clearly explains why the village events take place through the night and morning hours, while the mid-day activities remain relatively uneventful.
I spent a day and a half in Acapulco to become acclimatized and also to visit the major museum of Acapulco---that provides a historical overview of the area. What was fascinating to realize, was that Acapulco within some fifty years of Columbus's intent to find a sea route to the "Indies" became a reality. The Pacific currents and winds were suitable for the galleons to sail from Acapulco to Manila where Far Asian trade was set up, and to return along the northern Pacific to Mendocino, California and then south to Acapulco. The round trip was some five months, beginning in mid spring and ending in early fall. Acapulco became a trading center for spices, fine china, silk and embroidered fabrics, intricately carved wood and ivory --- those specialties that Columbus sought, but did not live to see. For almost three centuries Acapulco was the major Pacific port between Mexico (and Spain) and the Far East. Every household of means on the Pacific side of Mexico benefited from the trade with furniture, fine porcelain, clothes, and spices. Protecting the galleons from pirates in Acapulco's fine bay, was a large fortress, today's museum. In the village (some 230 km from Acapulco), where I observed the Doce Pares, I saw a framed depiction of the Virgin and Christ child, with Asian facial features and clothing in fine silks.
On the four-hour bus ride to Ometepec, I noted a flat coastal terrain with very lush vegetation --- why would it not be with normal 40 degree temperatures and 80-90% humidity and full-sized rivers flowing into the Pacific? Coconut groves, mango and tamarind plantations, and clusters of banana and plaintain trees. From Ometepec (nearest town to the village), another hour's ride with the terrain becoming more mountainous and cooler (thank goodness for my body) with corn harvesting on steep sides of hills.
The village, named Tlachoachistlahuaca [go ahead, try to pronounce that seven-syllable name quickly---I did try, but needed to show the name to the bus drivers, etc.] was in full swing of their event when I arrived late afternoon on December 5. Church bell ringing went on periodically, and more often, deafening rockets were shot into the air to punctuate the daily and nightly events. Vendors from outside of the village had set up their plastic goods, clothing, household, food, and audio-cassette wares under cloth awnings. There were also "carnival rides" with a small carrousel, and other children's mechanical rides. The village has became more connected with the outside world through a road paved only three years ago. Bonfiglioli mentioned that there is an explosion of vendors in this short time period, because they could more easily drive their goods to the once relatively isolated village.
The refurbished church with whitewashed walls and blue-decorated trims, was this year dedicated as the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception in addition to celebrating the "Jubileo 2000." The Bishop from Acapulco and priests from the region had come to the village on December 7, the eve of the holy day Immaculate Conception, for a special mass held in the church plaza. The friary housed a Franciscan priest (from southern Sicily), Franciscan brothers (from the U.S., Honduras, and ?), a few Mexican-born nuns, and a female assistant from the U.S. Regardless of this slate of important religious guests and the hosting friary, the village conducted its rituals and performances apparently independently, although as part of the religious holiday.
The four dance groups of the village (Doce Pares, Conquistas, Las Malinches, and El Tiger), do not appear to be related with each other socially, but they all participate in various aspects of the religious holiday from December 3 to 8; the key performance this year was produced by the Doce Pares group. Other years, the Conquistas would be the key performers. The social status of the participants of the groups is distinct, and the Doce Pares is made up of the mestizo population of the village. The reasons for this became clear. The first scene of the production includes horses and horse-riding, and the main population in the village who are horse-owners are the mestizos. The next reason, is that the mestizo populations (at least in the past) were the more literate group, who could read and memorize their speaking parts for Doce Pares. In essence, this production is performed by members of the more affluent and educated group of families in the village. Whereas the members of the other dance groups consisted of local Indians, mainly the Amuzgo --- the other major population in the village.
Preparation for the Doce Pares, began in September, with seven rehearsals of 15 hours each. A maestro (teacher-director) had selected his performers, and distributed the speaking parts to the performers. The total text covered 139 typed pages, for at least 20 speaking actors. The only character who did not have a major speaking role was Lucifer the devil, who with his antics, kept the interest of the on-looker, and who also controlled the performance space, making sure that children did not get in the way, or at times woke up dogs who chose to sleep in the performance space in the church plaza. The audience sits on all four sides of the plaza, on the grass, on the friary steps, on benches, on plastic chairs, on straw mats.
Each of the two armies was dressed similarly, but in different major colors. The Christians tended to be in light blue, while the Turks tended to be in red. It was the symbolic decoration on their outfits and their headdresses that distinguished the Christians [Carlomagno and his knights] (C) from the Turks (T). The C's with crosses and the virgin, while the T's with animals and birds. The shields with crosses for C's and a crescent moon for the T's. Carlomagno's crown was topped with a cross, while Almirante's (the Turkish king) crown was topped with a crescent moon. The more important knights (characters) wore long capes, while the lesser wore short capes. Most importantly, the costumes for both armies were of the Roman style, with full skirts at knee-length, blouses with short puffy sleeves. All pieces of clothing were decorated with sequin designs, gold threads, and the fake helmets with visors were topped with large feathers. During the 16th century in western Europe this type of Roman costume was used in theatrical productions or for pageants. Furthermore, each soldier holds a sword in his right hand, and a dagger, short lance or small shield in his left hand. The three female characters, daughter of the Turkish king and her two attendants wear long dresses and capes and hats --- whatever they feel is fashionable and beautiful. Each also carries a sword, which is used in battle later in the play.
The combat scenes were more improvised in sword play, than what is seen with the Korcula Moreska. The village performers were not trained for sword battle. Although the speaking parts are "set" and the "dance" choreography is "set" and the music is "set," the clashing sword movements are not. Nevertheless, I felt I was watching a centuries old production, that is revived whenever the village leaders decide to produce it.
I felt privileged to be able to watch this ten-hour long production, fascinated by the staging, the costumes, the ability of the amateur actors to memorize long texts (sometimes more than two pages in length), by the musicians capability of playing their parts through the night, with only one fifteen pause at about 3 a.m. for refreshments served to the actors, musicians and spectators. There was no electrical amplification, the sets were crudely made of wood, and the light source was based on very few light bulbs on each side of the plaza.
This drama is clearly based on a sixteenth century source---verified by the convoluted history. Carlomagno is a historically noble personage from the 8th-9th century. He was crowned as the first Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on Christmas in the year 800. His battles to hold back the Saracens in southern France and Spain occurred in the late 8th century and during his retreat in 778 through Roncesvalle in the western Pyrenees he lost some of his most able knights. One of these, his nephew Roland became a celebrated character espoused by traveling jongleurs in Medieval years. The epic known as the "Song of Roland" with many added tales of his bravery, his invincibility, and some of his fanaticized escapades were published into book form in the late fifteenth century. Selected themes became accepted as theatrical and danced productions, such as Doce Pares, by the early sixteenth century. The fact that the pagans became the "Turks" instead of the saracens (usually referenced as Arab Moslems), is significant, further identifying the time period. The Ottoman Turks were not yet on the world scene in the 8-9th centuries. Their invading armies did not enter Europe until the late fourteenth century and their expansion toward central Europe and their dominance in the Mediterranean was especially noted during the early 16th century when the "Turks" were extremely feared by European Christians. The fact that the Mexican Doce Pares refers to the Turkish king and his army as fighting Carlomagno and his twelve knights (of the historical eighth century) clearly puts the Doce Pares in the 16th century. Furthermore, the use of Roman stylized costumes for their "combat uniforms" with helmets and feathers in a theatrical production is another 16th century trait.
There is much that is not similar between Doce Pares and Korcula's Moreska. However, the costuming, use of swords, some of the staging, and structure of the production are clearly related --- not likely to come from temporal periods other than the 16th century.
------ ------ -----
Next, onward to Mexico City:
Only three days after the village production of Doce Pares was the holy day for Our Lady of Guadalupe (Virgen de Guadalupe) in Mexico City.
This was a whole other experience and observation, but with the sword dance genre as my focal point. December 11 is the most important religious holiday in Mexico, equaling the pilgrimage during the Holy Week to Jerusalem, or the pilgrimage to Lourdes in France, or the pilgrimage to Mecca for the Moslem world. Over 8 million pilgrims flowed over three days to the "Villa" to the shrine in the Basilica. A constant moving stream of humanity flowed into the Villa's plaza or lake of people. Among them at least 150 danzante religious dance groups, and among these some with the theme of "Moros y Cristianos" or also known as "Los Moros."
Joining me in Mexico City was Nadine Dougan-Krstic, who as a former graduate student in dance ethnology at UCLA had conducted a historical study of the Korcula Moreska and is making a video documentation of this dance complex. Both of us were overwhelmed with the sense of religious fervor, the intensity of the event, and the dynamics of the dance groups as they dance the last mile toward the entry to the Villa, and continue dancing for hours in the plaza with the Guadalupe Basilica as their focal point.
As to the combat sword dance genre, we saw several groups. But it is difficult to compare with the Korcula Moreska, since we were watching groups with only a partial repertoire and not in full performance context as with the Doce Pares in the village. But what did become apparent, was the evidence of 16th century Roman theatrical costuming, the carrying of swords in the right hand and small round shields in the left hands, as illustrated by a French dancing master, Arbeau, for a combat sword dance in the 16th century. One of the groups appeared to perform combat movements similar to the Korcula Moreska, with pauses between the sets of movements. Mainly, I see that there is a 16th century relationship, and more analytic comparative studies need to be conducted with the movement structure. The Moros and Doce Pares of Mexico, as well as the Korcula Moreska are clearly movement and costume "survivals" of a past type of dance that is traceable through time via their structures, the combat sword techniques, and style of costume. Mexico is a laboratory of dance history that is giving clues toward the timing of a European version of the sword dance in Croatia.
I am thankful to Dr. Carlo Bonfiglioli for recommending that I view Mexico's wealth of the sword dance genre. Nadine and I are also indebted to Dr. Jesús Jáuregui as our guide in the Villa with his knowledgeable anthropological view of the event. Bonfiglioli and Jáuregui are co-compilers of Las danzas de conquista I. México contemporáneo. published in 1996. This is a very valuable text on the theory and dissemination of the conquest genre of dances in Mexico.
Any dance researcher wanting leads to the literature or dance events in Mexico and considering comparative studies with Mexico's rich dance cultures, contact Dr. Carlo Bonfiglioli: email@example.com
Note: Bonfiglioli's doctoral dissertation with a full description of the village and its events will be published hopefully during 2001. However, both a copy of his dissertation La epopeya de Cuauhtémoc en Tlachoachistlahuaca : un estudio de contexto y sistema en la antropología de la danza and the above mentioned book are available in the CCDR library.
CHILE AND CROATIA
CHILEANS OF CROATIAN DESCENT IN ZAGREB
NOTE: Report submitted after the 36th International Folklore Festival July 17-21 2002, held in Zagreb, Croatia
*Report is also available in CCDR Newsletter 20 (Autumn, 2002)
I have been impressed by the Zagreb international folklore festival program since my first attendance in 1967 (35 years ago!), and this is already the 36th year. Although the festival has gone through changes in this time period, I find myself attending in order to add to my knowledge about dance in southeastern Europe. I have been especially interested since 1992 with Dr. Zorica Vitez's thematic approach—such as weddings, harvest, carnival, Christmas—and Vido Bagur's program direction. See report of the year 2000 festival focusing on carnival traditions posted on CCDR's web, under Notes from the Field.
This year's theme was dedicated to Croats and their descendants who do not live in Croatia, that is, those who live in other European countries—Austria, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Slovenia, Yugoslavia (Vojvodina and Montenegro), Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic; and also those who are part of a 19th and 20th century Diaspora, particularly in the Americas. A wide spectrum of traditions—dancing, singing, playing unique instruments, costumes, customs, Croatian language dialect speech patterns were performed. The groups from the Americas were of special interest to me, since I have spent part of my life with the study of continuities and changes among Croatian emigrants and their descendants—first through fourth generations—in North and South America.
One of the groups invited to participate in this year's festival was from Antofagasta, a northern port town of Chile. I have a special fondness for this young group of third and fourth generation Chileans with Croatian ethnic ties. I traveled to Antofagasta in three different years, 1985, 1986 and again 1996. During the first trip, I uncovered the fact that one of their dances was no longer danced in Croatia, but had maintained a continuity of performance half way round the globe. No one in the community knew how or when the dance was introduced into its midst. This point became a dance ethnologist's challenge to trace this dance that has mid-19th century roots, and to understand why it became a point of ethnic identity within the community. I had success in my detective work, and published an article about this dance, Salonsko Kolo as cultural identity in a Chilean Yugoslav community (1917-1986) NARODNA UMJETNOST [Folk art], special issue 2, 1988, published by the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb, Croatia.
The 36th Zagreb Festival program became the catalyst for bringing Salonsko Kolo back to Croatia. Eight couples, members of RASADNIK (new growth as in a nursery of plants) performed in costumes that were reproductions of dress in the Adriatic coastal town of Split at the turn of the century. Other dance groups in Croatia use this style of costume to perform turn of the century dances of Split, such as the quadrille and polka. The leadership of the Rasadnik group chose this same costume, because (based on my research) the Croatian emigrant who originally taught this dance in Antofagasta, comes from the town of Split at the beginning of the 20th century.
Rasadnik was founded in 1986, as a teen-age group, by members of Daleki Akordi (far away musical sounds) an adult group that already existed in Antofagasta (this is the group that I originally saw performing, what they called, "Davi Ciro" (alias, Salonsko Kolo). For Rasadnik it was the first trip to the "homeland." They were invited to the Zagreb Folklore Festival to perform the Salonsko Kolo and also to show their Chilean dance, La Cueca during a spontaneous portion of the post festival program.
It was the first time for the young people in Rasadnik to travel to Croatia. They were thrilled, especially since in their lifetimes, they have only had contact with the "homeland" of their ancestors through oral lore, photographs that are posted on the walls of the Sociedad de Croatas, in the very few news items about Croatia in the local newspapers, or news items sent to the Sociedad from the Croatian Embassy in Santiago. None of the performers has any direct contact with family members in Croatia; they do not speak nor write in the Croatian language; they only have the scant knowledge that their great-grandfather or great-grandmother came from one of the coastal islands—most likely Brac, and this is the leading factor for wanting to see where their "roots" are from. Without the knowledge of the Croatian language, nor communication with family members, the dancing activity and dressing into a costume, provides the principle means to an expression of their ethnic identity, and now in Croatia, they were experiencing the direct physical contact with that identity.
During their stay in Zagreb, they were provided with a university student tour guide, with fluency in Spanish. She accompanied the Rasadnik group in a walking and bus tour of Zagreb. She noted that the young people were thrilled at seeing buildings that they were familiar with only through photos. One of these was the impressive looking National Theater that was built in Zagreb in the late 19th century. They tearfully and excitedly took photos of themselves in front of the theater. Emotional tears also were expressed after their successful performance in the prestigious festival program. In addition they watched with rapt attention other Croatian groups in a wide variety of dance styles and costuming, not having seen this range of Croatian repertoire in their lifetimes in Chile.
This year's theme of the Zagreb Folklore Festival provided thrilling moments and meaningful experiences for young Chileans with Croat surnames and long-distance Croat identities. And furthermore, Salonsko Kolo returned to Croatia via Chile. The Festival performance was an ephemeral event, but there is now a tangible record of the Chilean Croatians performing Salonsko Kolo, in the year 2002.
Remember, these reports belong to Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, Inc. and Elsie Ivancich Dunin. They may not be copied without written permission.
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