Slovenski etnografski muzej

Ponikovske mačkare
Exhibition building ground floor
8. February 2024
10. March 2024
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Logotip Ponikovske mačkare


Shrovetide custom in Ponikve

For the sixth year in a row, we continue with the carnival exhibitions and this year we will present the Ponikve mačkare, a traditional Shrovetide Carnival custom from Ponikve (Dobrepolje).

The community prepares for Shrovetide several weeks in advance. They meet up at the village’s fire station, where they make and repair all their costume equipment (glueing/ “limanje”). Masks (“larfe”) are made from paper. The heritage (masks, costumes, and customs) is preserved by a (informal) society consisting of young men who are already chasing the children around the village a month prior to Carnival. On Shrove Sunday, they hand out a carnival newspaper and prepare a special programme. The main event is on Shrove Tuesday. In the morning, they stage a house-to-house collection, in the afternoon they perform a show with a humorous programme, and in the evening, they dance around houses and organise a party with a reception into the boys' society. The Carnival events are concluded by burning a Carnival effigy on Ash Wednesday.

The Ponikve mačkare consists of various traditional characters (chasers, an old man and an old woman, a beautiful couple, and a musician). Among the most characteristic are 5 chasers (rooster, hind, Huhu, policeman and chaser), who have high headdresses and masks, colourful clothes, and robes. The masks of the Ponikve mačkare are not allowed to leave the village and can only be worn by local young men who have been accepted into the boys' society.

The course of the Ponikovske mačkare Carnival custom is completely in the hands of an informal society of young men called HU-ZPP. The HU-ZPP abbreviation was created during Carnival after World War II when a pious woman called the boys devils (HUdiči), a Union of drunkards from Ponikve (Zveza Ponikovskih Pijancev). There are other similar variations on the interpretation of the abbreviation.

The members of the society of young men are locals (without exception), who can enter the society by invitation at the age of 16 and remain members until they get married or have children. Integration into the society takes place under specific conditions and has a symbolic and social role within the community, which is not only tied to Shrovetide activities. This society of young men is one of the key factors of public life in Ponikve; they organise picnics, bonfires, and trips, set up the maypole for newlyweds, and attend weddings. On Shrove Tuesday evening, young men must undergo a christening to become members of the society.

The exhibition will present carnival custom, costumes and carnival characters/masks, including 5 of those purchased by the SEM in 2023.

Authors of the Exhibition: mag. Adela Pukl, dr. Tomaž Simetinger
Curator of the Exhibition: mag. Adela Pukl
Professional collaborators of the Exhibition: Janez Gačnik, mag. Anja Jerin, mag. Gregor Ilaš, Miha Špiček, Blaž Verbič
Exhibition prepared by the Slovene Ethnographic Museum, represented by Natalija Polenec, 2024

The chasers on Fat Thursday , Ponikve, 2023. Photo: Miha Špiček.  The old couple, Ponikve, 2023. Photo: Blaž Verbič.   Horses pulling a wagon with props and chaser, Ponikve, 2023. Photo: Blaž Verbič.   The evening round, Ponikve, 2023. Photo: Blaž Verbič.