I am telling you about bulgarian Kukeri masquerade festival in Pernik sity called "Surva" . This is one of the most colorful and interesting events in my country.
Kukeri Ritual Games In ancient times the old Thracians held the Kukeri Ritual Games in honour of god Dionysus - the especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy. Even today these games are also known as the Dionysus’ games. Among the Kukeri dancers’ are many characters, including Dionysus and his satyrs as well as others from deep history such as the tsar, harachari, plyuvkachi, startzi, and pesyatzi.
In Bulgarian folklore, the mask is believed to protect its wearer against powers of impure nature. This is the most probable explanation why the masks look like fearful creatures with huge jaws and awesome teeth, with horns and tails, with snapping beaks and grisly bodies.
The sound of the bells hanging from the belts of the participants enhances their effect.
Sometimes the mask is not that complicated. Participants from some regions use charcoal to paint their faces black and sheep’s wool to make moustaches and beards.
Bulgarian ceremonial masks are a valuable source of information for the various folklore regions in the country. It is typical for the masks worn in the region of Pernik that they are made of sheep and goat furs, wings and feathers, horns, corn leaves and hemp. Masks from other regions are usually made of cloth, wool, and parched plants. They are often decorated with beads and paper flowers.
All masks are made by the persons who wear them or with the help of craftsmen known throughout the village for their skill. It is a long and complicated process. Shrouded in mystery, it is almost a ritual in its own right.
The group consists of various different characters. Traditionally all parts are played by men dressed in carnival costumes. More often than not, they carry symbolic objects with which they perform their rituals.
Since the days of the Bulgarian Cultural Revival characters from the neo folklore culture have started to appear in the rituals. Significant political changes and social issues still produce parodies of representatives of different social classes. Nowadays the minimum requirement for participation is having the willingness to take part, therefore it is not uncommon to see toddlers walking side by side with 70-year carnival veterans and women and young girls who feel part of the tradition put on masks and costumes and go out with the rest of the bunch.
The dance of the masked men is a mystic unity of rhythm, sound, and color. They move in a special step. Wearing impressive masks and unique costumes they fill the air of the villages with the sounds of hundreds of bells and whispered blessings wishes for prosperity.