Zvončar pausing to drink more wine at the Rijeka Carnival, February 2012
The Zvončari or ‘bell ringers’, with their shaggy sheepskin costumes, horned masks or headdresses and huge cowbells tied to their waists, are a star attraction at the wild and wonderful Rijeka Carnival in Croatia (there are several groups of them). They come from Kastav, the mountainous area inland from Rijeka, and form part of an old pagan tradition in which men wearing sheepskins and cowbells would go from house to house through a village around Lent, driving out evil spirits which may have gathered there over the winter months, and usually drinking liberal quantities of wine in the process.
Photos © Rudolf Abraham. No unauthorized use.