Guest lectures on the identity of the Bulgarian Muslims (the Pomaks) and on the current Bulgarian mummers traditions on October 7-8
Dr. Iliya Nedin (head of the Department of Ethnology and Balkan Studies, South-West University „Neofit Rilski“ in Blagoevgrad) will deliver two lectures.
Everyone is welcome!
On Monday, October 7 at 16:15 he gives the lecture „Living on the Border: Bulgarian Muslims (Pomaks) in the town of Zlatograd (a case study)“.
The lecture venue: Ülikooli 16-215.
The Bulgarian Muslims (i.e., the Pomaks) are a religious minority. They are Slavic Bulgarians who speak Bulgarian as their mother tongue, but their religion and customs are Islamic”.
In response to the pressure, exerted for decades, by the national state, Bulgarian Muslims in Bulgaria have been responding by hesitations and instability of collective and personal identities. It has been noted: a) Bulgarian identification by the sign of language belonging; b) identification depending on religion - as Muslims; c) “Pomak” identity “in the ethnic meaning of the word”; d) Turkish identity. Evangelos Karagiannis, presents a more detailed classification, adding nuances to the “Muslim-Pomak”, “Bulgarian-Muslim”, “political-Pomak” options of the identification.
The main objective of this topic will be to present the strategies of accepting Bulgarian identity among the Bulgarian Muslims, due to the lack of studies on this topic. Bulgarian identity has been more clearly manifested in the region of the Central Rhodopes. This is also the region where the Rodina [Homeland] Association (1937-1947) had developed its activities in the past. This was a cultural and educational organization of the Bulgarian Muslims, targeted at growing closeness with the Bulgarian Christian majority.
Bulgarian Muslims are a population, characterized by a considerable degree of internal heterogeneity, concerning differences and instability of identities alike, as well as some cultural features. Not a small part of the Bulgarian Muslims state Bulgarian identity and this trend can be most clearly followed in the region of the Central Rhodope Mountains. The statistics of a dominant Bulgarian identity in Zlatograd are by and large confirmed by the research with ethnographic methods. This trend rests on the long-years of coexistence and daily interactions between people of Christian and Muslim religious identity and on the consensual understanding that Muslims and Christians must not divide. The consensus has taken shape under the impact of a number of historical factors, benefiting the rapprochement of people of different religious affiliations. Though an incomplete process, the Bulgarian identification among a considerable part of the Bulgarian Muslims has been an advanced social change, deserving painstaking and correct study.
On Tuesday, October 8 at 18:00 he gives the lecture „New Mummers: The new life of some folk traditions in Bulgaria“.
The lecture venue: Estonian National Museum (Muuseumi tee 2), World Cinema Hall (zone A).
One of the most popular ritual games in Bulgarian tradition is named Kukeri (Bulgarian) or Mummers. Kuker from Latin cuccula means hood. Mummers are masked men, that made their processions during the Sirna nedelya – the last week before the Easter’s Long Lent. People believed that this time is very dangerous for their health, that is why they executed different protective practises. The mummers perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits. The custom is generally thought to be related to the Thracian Dionysus cult in the wider area of Thracia. Closely related traditions are found throughout the Balkans and Greece (including Romania and the Pontus). The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals (sometimes double-faced) and large bells attached to the belt.
The lecture will talk about current mummers traditions. The mummers’ rituals vary by regions – the masks can be different, the clothes or the bells. But the structure of the group and the symbolic sense of the game is one and the same. Today this ritual game is very active all over the country. Other ritual activities which I am going to present, are related with Christmas, Epiphany, and St. Triphon’s day.
More information: Kirsti Jõesalu, researcher of ethnology, kirsti.joesalu [ät] ut.ee (subject: Arapi%20loeng)
Dr. Iliya Nedin's visit is supported by the ERASMUS+.