Folk cultural hertiage

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When we speak about the Šibenik area and its folk culture, then we primarily think about the tradition of its people: farmers, sailors, artisans, and merchants, who have made throughout the centuries today's distinguishing tradition of this part of the Republic of Croatia.


Folk cultural heritage can be divided into two categories: intangible and tangible.
When speaking about intangible cultural heritage we primarily think about customs, songs, dances, stories and legends – everything that was transmitted by the folks legends and by the written notations of our respectable chroniclers, historians, musicians, ethnologists, ethno-choreologists, folklorists and other lovers of this type of art, which is today called folklore.

pucko3Even though our region covers a relatively small geographical area, it is very rich in the folklore expressions and every settlement in the region is particular, but still we can divide it in the Adriatic folklore and the Dinaric folklore.
They both influenced one to another, but there are also visible differences between the urban one (including the town of Šibenik, a great part of the coastal settlements and the settlements on the islands, where Adriatic folklore customs dominate) and the rural Dinaric folklore, associated with the settlements in the hinterland and some settlements on the coast (that were formed due to migration from the hinterland).
These differences, as well as the characteristics of each settlement, make a great treasure of the folklore expression in general.


"The old kolo of Šibenik", a traditional folk dance of the Šibenik inhabitants, is to be mentioned. Some historians and chronologists consider it to be an early Christian traditional dance which was the base for developing all other dances of the kind in this area, and also beyond. The dance has been revived by the cultural association "Šibenske šuštine".
It is especially interesting the way of dancing and holding hands on the level of the shoulders putting them up and down in the rhythm of the dance (music), similar to very soft rowing forward movements.


pucko 4Different dancing elements of the Middle Europe and the Mediterranean came to Šibenik, to the islands and to the coast. They were partly accepted and enriched by the creation of the inhabitants.
For centuries have individuals alone created dances for the need of different customs, which were upgraded and ennobled by oral tradition.
Therefore, among all dances (mazurka, polka, walzer, etc.) it is important to mention the "Croatian promenade" – a dance made up of five parts and 15 figures, that was introduced as a dance of Croatian people and different associations with the Croatian presage ("Croatian eagle", "Croatian woman", "Croatian youth", ...) at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
It was danced in the town of Šibenik, in most of the settlements on the coast and on the islands, and it was spread in some littoral places of the today's Zadar County.


Old Illyrian melodies mostly sang by women during the singing of the old ballads have been preserved on the islands in this area. In the hinterland, on the other hand, the loud folk songs are characteristic – so called „ojkalice". This area, especially the town of Šibenik, is known for men singing groups – klapa (a capella group), and the inhabitants of Šibenik (especially the inhabitants of the quarter called Dolac) were one of the best singers in Dalmatia. There is a verse of one old ballad about the places on the coast and on the islands of Dalmatia saying: „There is no singer but the man from Dolac...".


Primošten, together with its little hidden villages, has preserved the dance „kolo", escorted by a special music, tambourine (drum) and blower performed by the cultural-artistic association „Krč" from Primošten and the cultural-artistic association „St. George" Primošten – Stanovi. The inhabitants of the island of Krapanj, the participants of the cultural-artistic association „Spužvar" claim that their „kolo" is open unlike the one of the others and it is their specificity. The women of Zlarin (and the men of Zlarin) – cultural-artistic association „Koralj" in the last step of their old „kolo" seem as they flow in the air. The easy flow is the main characteristic of Prvić Luka and Šepurine.

Landings in the performance of the old „kolo" are characteristic also in Vodice („Vodiške perlice") and Tribunj (the cultural-artistic association „Tribunj"), but with small differences and stylistic performances. The „Travulin" from Tisno (it is the name of the cultural-artistic association as well) is a special dance in pairs and in quarters, it has the Dinaric dance frame and the Adriatic style, specific step and it is distinguished from the dance of Pirovac with a similar name „Traulin", that has different dance frame and figures performed by the cultural-artistic association „Bezdan" from Pirovac..

Betina (the cultural-artistic association „Zora"), that can be proud of the oldest folklore group of this area, conserve the old dances of its settlement among which we put accent on „balanbrin" and „kolo na križ". In Murter there is the „Association of the citizens of Murter" which preserves specific wedding customs of its area and it presents them as dramatic-scene expression. The inhabitants of Jezera are proud of the particular custom „The sailors' ball of Jezera", performed by the „Association of the sailors of Jezera" (so called šocija naviganti) since 1911, being a part of the program of the Cultural-artistic association „Koledišće" Jezera since 1974. It is unique in the folk culture of the Croatian people.

Besides well known hospitality, the villages in the hinterland of the Šibenik region demonstrate the long traditions of cattle-breeding and farming, rough dances during which performance the power and the capability are being demonstrated, and the most attractive part is the playing of an instrument called „diple". Also characteristic for the hinterland called Zagora and two mountains Promina and Dinara is the outvoting during the singing of „ojkalice" (traditional songs).


The traditional cloth of this area is worth of mentioning and admiring. No matter how hard you try, you won't find any similar cloth not even in two (even though neighbour) settlements, and the individual creativity is especially emphasized here. Among all details of the cloth is important to put accent onto red characteristic cap proudly put on the head of the men of this area, that derives from the period of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the times of the battles with the Turks in Dalmatia (period of Uskoks).

The oldest cap was made of the darker red scarf with the thin black border and black long or short flaps or with a little tuft on the join of the black border band. With time the cap got the stitched details, firstly in the upper corner of the cap (the detail of the little olive branch and the initial letter of the settlement, where the owner of the cap derives from).


The flaps were getting smaller and smaller until they became only a little black fluffy border, and the cap got first of all one height more, then two more, and recently (shortly before the Second World War) also two heights with the characteristic embroidery on the margin called "boule". This last version we call today the cap of Šibenik, but the older version of the red cap is still carried by some folklore associations during the performances and some choirs on the islands, where she has been preserved the longest (Jezera, Murter, Betina, etc.).


The buttons of Šibenik, very beautiful decoration and a part of the male folklore clothes made of silver filigree have their practical use in the buttoning of the male stitched waistcoat (so called krožet, kružet) and it is characteristic for the Šibenik area by the filigree production way. The motive of the buttons of Šibenik is also found in the women jewellery (ear rings, rings, necklaces, brooches, etc.).


The red coral of Zlarin, recognizable as a part of the jewellery of the women of Zlarin, still represents a permanent element of jewellery in some places in this area, while the women of Zlarin are the only one preserving "a chained silver blade", that used to be the regular jewellery of the women of this area.


The characteristic of the female traditional clothes from Primošten to Tribunj is the skirt with braces distinguished from settlement to settlement, while on the island of Murter and in Pirovac there are characteristic skirts with embroidered shirtfront. The older female traditional costumes in the hinterland were the white weaved clothes joining the skirt and the shirt, as well as the multicoloured weaved apron. Men in the littoral part and on the island wear the silk bands, while the typical bands in the hinterland are either knitted or weaved using wool.

Women use mostly the woollen or cotton weaved multicoloured band. In the past, women of this area carried white scarf and the wrappers decorated by the colourful and white embroidery or lace. Nowadays there are some women carrying white laced scarfs, and some changed those scarfs by others in red or darker colours with details. In some settlements and in the town of Šibenik women do not cover the head, but they carry some decoration in the hair. It is much better to let picture to talk about the details of the traditional clothes.


The folk material culture of this area distinguishes also by numerous artefacts, among which are also works of art. For example: numerous wooden objects for use and decoration, ship models, laced shirts (embroidered shirtfront), lace with glass pearls ("ogrice") on shirts, "spare" (circle headrests on the women heads during the carrying of the freight), laced bands, woollen and cotton materials (eco-ethno group as a part of the cultural-artistic association "Koledišće" Jezera).


There are monuments of folk architecture made of stone along this whole area. There are old houses, churches, votive chapels, stone walls, piles of rocks, fences, terraces, that we should admire because they are monuments dedicated to the work of Dalmatian man.


Parties, held in every settlement in a unique way, using the characteristics and peculiarities of every locality, will leave every visitor speechless. These are: regattas of the sailing boats, rowing regattas, competition in old traditional skills, donkey race, fair of the original products, offer of the local cuisine, original performances (where both local population and the tourists take part), carnival parties, demonstration of the wedding customs, performing other authentic customs, etc. Therefore, the folk cultural heritage of the Šibenik area is a very important part of the Croatian culture in general.

author: Nenad Milin
photography: KUD-u Koledišće Jezera