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Kurent carnival costume listed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage

Seoul, 7 December - The door-to-door rounds of Kurenti, a traditional Slovenian carnival costume, have become part of the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Group of carnival masks called kurent.
Photo: Bor Slana.

The decision was taken in Seoul on Thursday at a session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The committee wrote that the Kurent rituals combine various cultural expressions of social practices, performing arts, knowledge of nature and traditional crafts.

Related knowledge and skills are most commonly transmitted within the family, but youngsters also learn from elderly members of the groups they are part of and schools and museums play an important role by organizing activities, workshops and contests.

The practice helps strengthen interpersonal bonds and is key to the regional identity of the communities concerned, UNESCO said.

The door-to-door rounds of Kurenti are a Shrovetide custom practised from Candlemas (2 February) to Ash Wednesday.

It is believed that the noisy bell-ringing and brandishing of their wooden sticks chase everything evil away and bring happiness to those they visit.

The Kurent costume consists of sheep skins, girded with chains that hold huge cow bells, leg warmers and a headgear with horns or feathers, a pointed nose and a bright red tongue. It is the most distinctive among some 150 traditional costumes preserved in Slovenia.

It was nominated by Slovenia for the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in 2016 and is now Slovenia's second entry on the list.

Since December 2016 the list features the Škofja Loka Passion, Slovenia's oldest play, or more precisely the mass staging of this early 18th-century play in the Mediaeval town of Škofja Loka.

© STA, 2017