It came straight from hell. An abominable creature in a broad cloak that is tightened by a chain and hung with skins of de... → more
It came straight from hell. An abominable creature in a broad cloak that is tightened by a chain and hung with skins of dead animals, a lamp and a bell that tolls as ominously as it can. The beastly ghoul has its hands and face covered in ashes, and the hat he wears is made of bird feathers crowned with a dead raven. As if all these netherworldy adornments are not enough to freeze your soul, the beast carries giant claws that clap thunderously all the time ... The creature is called Škopit the Emasculator, and it is not alone. Meet Škoromati, the night-keepers, the chasers of Winter and the harbingers of Spring. They are among of the most astonishing relics of history and cultural heritage in Ilirska Bistrica, which spans over four millennia.
The oldest extant Shrovetide celebration of spring in this part of Europe was once typical of a vast area ranging from Friuli to Northern Istria. The masked characters are divided into two groups, the Good Ones and Bad Ones, with Škopit the Night Watcher at the helm. Today the Škoromatija festivities remain a part of the Shrovetide carnivals in the villages of Brkini and the Podgrad Valley, and they are the most prominent part of the carnival on the streets of Ilirska Bistrica.