Transforming an ethnic-bound custom into an inter-ethnic, non-exclusive custom with participation of the whole community, as a mark of local identity, while keeping all the elements of the custom intact (german language, details of costume and performance) Urzelnlaufen/Fuga Lolelor is tied to the tradition of craft guilds in Transylvania. The custom is marked in the guilds’ archives starting 1689 in Agnita, Sibiu, Transylvania, a couple of years after Cincu, the former regional administrative power, lost the right to host the guilds main offices in the village. Every January there was a ritualistic transfer of the chest containing money and professional secrets of the respective guild to the newly appointed Guild-Father. This transfer was accompanied by a procession of the Chest which was guarded by “Urzeln”/”Lole”. Masked characters with a reference in pagan practices of protection and purification, the Urzeln not only guarded the precious Chest, but also kept their initial function of chasing away winter and bad spirits. Their costume is made of black textile bits, a painted mask with furry edges and devils’ tails made of hemp. The ritual consists of the Urzeln roaming the streets making terrible noise with special braided leather whips and huge cowbells. In Cincu, the approximately 100 masked characters run through the entire village and are welcomed by locals with “schnaps” and doughnuts to thank them for bringing purification, well-being for the household and fertility for the crops. (Marlene Stanciu)
Photo: Vlad Dumitru
Maria Balabaș is a journalist and musician. She is the host of the Dimineața crossover show (Morning Crossover) from Radio România Cultural and has created projects devoted to new forms of radio creation (Generația sonoră/Sound Generation). In 2014 she was nominated for Prix Europa (Berlin) for the documentary Maria Tănase – Urban Soundtrack for a Diva. She initiated musical groups such as Avant’n’Gard and Soare Staniol, inspired by improvisational techniques, electronic music, acoustic music. Creates installations generated by the artistic interest in the form of field-specific auditory memory.
Recording, editing and mixing by Maria Balabaș.