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Moldavian Arnăuții

The term Arnăuți is derived from the mainly Albanian mercenaries of the 18th to 19th centuries when the Phanariot rulers of Wallachia and Moldova formed army corps. The Romanian term Arnăuț comes via Turkish from the Greek “arvanites” for the Albanian population in Greece. In time, the term Arnăuți came to refer to the occupation as a mercenary rather than an ethnicity. After the fall of the Phanariot regime in 1822, these army corps formed by Arnăuți were disbanded, but they remained in the cities as armed servants of boyars or foreign officials. The Arnăuți as part of the New …read more

Bucovina: Irozii, Bumbierii, Hurta

The Irozii tradition is a group of boys (ceată) who go house-to-house at New Year. In Suceava county, west of the Suceava river and predominantly before the mountain zone, these groups of Irozii typically perform the men’s group dance Pădurețul, sometimes followed by Trilișești or the chain dance Arcanul.

The name Bumbierii or Bungherii comes from the belts which have hundreds of brass buttons (in Romanian bumbi, or the popular term bunghi) and are wrapped three or four times around the body, around the waist and diagonally over the shoulders. The costumes imitate (are a parody of) those of the Austrian generals during the Habsburg period with spectacular tinsel ornaments, strings, fringes, belts worn diagonally with bells, beads, sequins and brass buttons.

North Moldavian Calul and Căiuți

Centred in Botoșani county (stretching south into Iași, Neamț and Bacău counties and north into Herța (now in Ukraine) the most widespread zoomorphic tradition is Calul (horse) in the form of the Caiuți (little horses). Lavric says the horse was seen as representing fertility in the Carpatho-Danube area, but now the Moldavian Caiuți, as a ritual masked character, has become largely a dance for entertainment. In most localities Calul, Căluțul or Caiuți are not accompanied by another zoomorphic masked character. The entourage of Căiuți generally includes other characters; ladies, knights, old men, officers, emperors, ladies, outlaws, Turks, bridegrooms, doctors, clerks, …read more

Men’s dances in Moldavian New Year customs

This section summarises the various variants of men’s group dances found in Moldavian New Year customs, ranging from the customs that are predominantly dance based and have the more complex dance forms, to the customs that regularly have some form of group dancing, and the dance customs that are less common. There are many different New Year customs in Moldavia, in particular the very common Capra (goat) zoomorphic tradition and many versions of the “folk theatres”, although neither of these regularly have organised group dancing. In the New Year customs there are zoomorphic characters (goat, stag, bear, horse etc), other …read more


Around the Carpathians the men’s group dances that fall in the category known as Ceată distractivă (for fun) includes the dances Războiul (or Resteul) (Mărginimea Sibiului and Țara Oltului), Vulpea (Muscel) and Gătejul (upper Mureș). Bucșan inferred that the distribution of these dances is connected to the shepherds however it should be noted that Gătejul is not of the same choreographic form. This page is about Războiul from the southern Transylvanian region, but it should be noted that the title Războiul as a ‘fun’ dance is known in other parts of Romania as a subtype of Sârba. In the zone …read more

Ceata ciobănească – shepherds’ group dances

The dance repertoire of the shepherding communities along the Carpathians is thought to be an older layer of tradition that interconnects the men’s dances of northern Moldavia through eastern Transylvania to the men’s dances of Mărginimea Sibiului in southern Transylvania. Shepherd’s dances are (mostly) men’s dances and are either in “ceată” formation (dancers are unconnected to each other, and dance in unison, in a circle), or as a chain dance in “shoulder hold” (Brâul, Sârba). Although the shepherds do not form a society that might be termed ceată, they dance is in the same formation as in ceată dance in …read more

Northern Moldavian Ceată dances

The common format of these dances is the ceată formation of men in a circle, unconnected and dancing in unison. Generally the first figure is based on a fast walk in single file around the circle, followed by some combinations of stamps, heel clicks or jumps. The other men’s dances in the local repertoire are chain dances, such as Arcanul. These dances are performed within the local New Year customs (Irozii, Jieni, Bumbierii) and local social repertoire. Some variants are performed by both men and women. Giurchescu lists the “North Moldavian corps” men’s group dances as Trilișești, Ardelenescul, Leușteanca, Țânțăroiul, …read more

Ceată de feciori – men’s group dances

The ‘classic’ Romanian ethnologist classification of group dances is based on differentiation by current function and region, where the regional forms are generally significantly.

Dances that have retained a custom or ritual function (Căluș, Călușeri, Căiuți, Irozi). I previously classified these as “ritual stick dances”, but not all retain a stick, and most now have a function within a “custom”.

Carpathian men’s dances, sometimes termed as Carpathian springing dances, are from the social repertoire, but are danced in Ceată formation without sticks or other props. This includes the regions along the Carpathian mountains; Oaș, Maramureș, Bucovina, east Transylvania and southern Transylvania.

Transylvanian lad’s dances is a genre shared between the Hungarian and Romanian communities. This genre can appear clearly defined in region and form, but hides a complex background that led to the genesis of the genre. From the Romanian perspective the genre might be termed Feciorește (lads’ dances). The older layer of such dances is seen in Ceată dances linked to the Carpathian Ceată dances, however this merges with the dances that have complex figures of leg and boot slaps, the Romanian Ponturi and Hungarian Legényes, that can be performed in a solo competitive context.

Men’s group dances in customs and rituals

Ceată men’s group dances Customs and rituals Danubian Căluș Călușari in Bulgaria Transylvanian Călușeri De bâtă stick dances Moldavian New Year Căiuți and Calul Bucovina Irozi Bumbierii Moldavian Arnăuții The term Ceată Ceată in Romanian refers to a group that gathers for a common purpose. The same word is used in southern Slavic, чете, and also in Turkish, çete. Bucsan argues that ceată could equally have derived directly from Latin, coetus, which has the same meaning of a group. Societies of men that traditionally form to perform carols and other customs are known as Ceată, but also Jienii or Junii meaning …read more

Калушари, Kalushari, Călușari in Bulgaria

Kalush - Baikal (Байкал), Pleven, Bulgaria

This post is about the Căluș custom as it is now in Bulgaria where the spelling is Калуш in Cyrillic we have used the official transliteration into Latin script of Kalush when referring to the specific traditions in Bulgaria for consistency with the usage in these locations. This does not indicate any difference in pronunciation, origin or ethnic identities. The extent of Kalushari (Călușari) in the more distant past is difficult to assess, although Marinov (late 19th century) documented traditions that took place during rusali in villages in many regions of Bulgaria. From accounts written in the late 19th and …read more

Transylvanian Călușeri

All the Călușeri dance traditions are within the men’s group dance category in that they are performed by a group of men, dancing the same figures and steps in unison, and the dancers are not connected by hands (or any other sticks or swords). Many traditions (but not all) include holding a stick which is used mainly for support or just held upward when needed, or placed on the ground while dancing.

Plaiul Cloșanilor map

The upper plateux area of Mehedinți is historically connected to the town of Baia de Aramă. The area was known first in the early 19th century as Plaiul Munțelui, but locally took the name Plaiul Cloșanilor following the success of fighters from Cloșani during the 1821 revolution. The ethnographic zone also includes the depression to the south east of the uplands between Ilovăț and Bala , other regional reports include the lower areas further southeast (the line east of Drobeta).

Dunari (Kladovo) map

I have followed the terminology of Paun Durlić by using Dunari (Dunavljani) for this area surrounding the town of Kladovo. In Serbian the wider region is known as Timočka Krajina and this part is often referred to as Ključ. In Romanian it is unclear if this is included in Timoc. Geographically it is clear that this area is closely related to the surroundings of Drobeta, Timoc being further down the Danube and close to the plains of Mehedinți and Dolj. The zone is predominately populated by Romanian speaking peoples known as Vlasi in Serbian or Rumân in their mother tongue, …read more

Crna Reka map

The region of the Crna Reka depression, the valley of the Crni Timok or Crna River, is a separate region to the Timoc ethnographic zone in terms of geographical separation and people. It is noticeable that the northern area is predominantly Romanian speaking and the southern part is predominantly Serbian speaking. Romanian speaking peoples are known as Vlasi in Serbian or Rumân in their mother tongue, or otherwise referred to as Ungareni. This is a term that relates to an origin from within the Hungarian empire which is used for people, costumes and dances on the eastern or southern side …read more

Valea Timocului map

Valea Timocului, or just Timoc, is part of a wider region known as Timočka Krajina in Serbian. This area of the Timoc valley watershed is predominantly Romanian speaking and straddles the modern Serbian–Bulgarian border. The villages in the hills west of Negotin have a predominantly Serbian ethnicity. The Romanian speaking peoples are known as Vlasi in Serbian or Rumân in their mother tongue, or otherwise referred to as Țărani (or Carani) meaning peasants that work the land. Their language is related to the Oltenian dialect of Romanian, as opposed to other Vlasi further west that speak the Banat Romanian dialect. …read more

Câmpiei Crișului Alb map

For ethnographic simplicity I have separated the historical Zarand county into the mountain sub-zone under the title “Țara Zărandului” and the plain are under “Câmpiei Crișului Alb”. This more accurately conveys the connection of the plain area to the neighbouring plain areas, an interference zone of the historic Zarand and the Criș plain.

Carpathian men’s group dances

Ceată men’s group dances Carpathian men’s group dances Northern Moldavian Pădurețul Trilișești Leușteanca Țânțăroiul Maramureș and Oaș Bărbătesc De sărit Roata Shepherds’ dances Siminicul Brânza Ceanunul Războiul Transylvanian Feciorește Carpathian group dance form These are characterised by the group dance form; Performed by the dancers in unison. The dancers are in a circle, but not linked by hand or arm holds. Choreographic structure includes alternating; Walking (plimbări), or a basic step, in a circle moving anticlockwise. Complex figures (mișcare) performed in place. This dance structure of alternating basic travelling step and figures in place is common to the Carpathian Brâul, …read more

Chain dances

Chain dances Hora ~ mare dreapă large straight ~ n-două parți bi-directional ~ pe bătaie with stamping iute fast “ternary” 3 measure Brâul Carpathian Mocănesc Danubian Brâulețul Banat Brâul Sârba Common Sârba fixed form Sârba Asymmetric rhtythm 5/16 Rustem 7/16 Geampara 5/8 Șchioapa 9/16 Cadâneasca Romanian chain dance types The ‘classic’ Romanian classification of chain dances divides into basic types; Hora (pl. Hore) which includes the basic social chain dances in 2/4 rhythm which are generally in 4 measure patterns and concordant to the music. Also the ‘fixed form’ (dances with a fixed pattern of motifs and/or parts) dances in …read more