Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance, 100 words story

Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance 100 words story

With Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance we’ve reached the 4th century AD in our 100 words story posts along the historical timeline of Transylvania. Remember how it all began? Do you see the pattern?

A Paleolithic Murder in Transylvania
Behind the Cave Art of Transylvania
Conduct in a Neolithic Kingdom in Transylvania
Dacian Horses of Bronze Age
Echoes of a Battle, the Getae
Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans
Greed, of the Roman Kind
Hope Has Multiple Faces

Immortalis, the Immortal

For each lad lost to Ielele, Fairies, ten wish to join Căluşarii, Stallions, in dance-battle.

The voiceless one, masked – goat and sun, death and rebirth – leads into the clearing drawing a sacred circle with his two-edged sword. In leap Căluşarii  as one, counter-clockwise, armed with sticks crossed over their bodies, red ribbons, garlic.

They pledge on their linden-poled flag then spring, their bodies twisted roots… float like leaves, bells ringing in the wind… climb their sticks… pounce across, hop, spin.
One drops dead.

They broke the spell like an earthenware jug crashing. The sick cured, Căluşarii  depart quietly.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Immortalis, the Immprtal Căluşarii Dance 100 words story - The voiceless one, masked - goat and sun, death and rebirth - leads into the clearing
The voiceless one, masked – goat and sun, death and rebirth – leads into the clearing

Immortalis, the Immortal – words, stories, and some history

Immortalis, immortale, immortal. (Oxford Latin Course, Balme & Morwood)

Căluşarii  and their dance goes back as far as the Thracians and Dacians. Were those more peaceful times? I hope so, as the rituals developed then and involving important life stages have survived and have reached us.

Men, and by this I mean the male gender, were willingly involved in dancing ritual even before Mr Darcy’s (in)famous words:

[Dance] “has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world; every savage can dance.”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The Spartans, for once, had their pyrrhike (having its roots apparently in the exultant victory dance performed by Pyrrhus, Achilles’ son, after killing their opponent’s leader. Dancing stayed with the Greek soldiers for centuries, part of their military training, until combat rules changed and only Sparta kept the tradition alive.

Yet Greek philosopher and historian Xenophon describes in his work Anabasis (The March into the Interior – the interior land beyond the Black Sea), a Thracian war dance he witnessed. The Thracians danced to the sound and rhythm of the reed pipe.

Reed pipes stuck with resin later became the panpipes, a Romanian national musical instrument.

For me, I will never forget the Haka, the ceremonial challenge-dance of the Māori culture as it is still performed by the New Zealand sports teams before international challenges.

Back to Romanian Căluşarii  and their dance, its tradition rises from Dacian times and it still holds its pagan essence. Led by their great priest who would ask the gods for guidance, Căluşarii  would perform their ritualistic dance to fight off evil spirits, and heal the sick.

Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance, 100 words story, Calusari dance Mures

Initially, Căluşarii  were a restrictive groups of odd numbered men, between 5 and 13, sworn to stay together in celibacy and to perform ritual dances during a period of three – seven – or nine years. Their leader was the only one to know all the secrets, some passed on orally, others taken to the grave. Căluşarii  were / are feared warriors who fight Ielele, magical maiden fairies who steal the spirit and the minds of all those men who happen to see them in the forest. Ielele only dance on the night of Rusalii or the Descent of the Holly Spirit (Pentecost). Rusallile go back to the Roman celebration of Rosalia, the day of the roses, dedicated to worshiping the dead and bringing them food and roses.

Why Căluşari? Cal in Romanian language means horse, perceived as a fantastic creature. Horse, cal, symbolizes heat, warmth, summer, it even aids the sun climb atop the sky every day. As is the head of a horse, sculpted in wood, seen as a protective, positive symbol. Therefore Căluşarii are divine stallions.

horse head woodcraft positive symbol
horse head, crafted wood, seen as a positive symbol

The dance Căluşarii  perform imitates the horse’s walk, canter, and gallop, but also the rider’s jump on the horse’s back, as well the limb walk of a horse without shoe-horses. Over 100 dances, all performed to become as strong and agile as a horse, thus receiving a stallion’s divine powers and fight off evil spirits.

The costumes worn by the Căluşarii  is filled with symbology. Made of white linen with stitching to depict the geographical area they belong to, it is decorated with colorful sticks stuck in their belt to form a cross, for protection. Hand made hankies (gifted by women and girls for their own protection and fortune in the year ahead), silver spurs and bells, a leather harness complete the look while their hats have tassels and colored ribbons, white and red -sacred Dacian colors.

Calusarii dance, Hunedoara

The most important instrument is their flag, a three to ten meters long linden (oak or hazelnut) stick topped with a white cloth decorated with white-red ribbons, garlic, wormwood, wheat and salt.

There is a wealth of information and symbology behind Căluşarii, their dance still performed all across Romania. Know that since 2005 Căluşarii  are par of the UNESCO Heritage.

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Hope Has Multiple Faces, 100 words story

hope has multiple faces, Roman history, 100 words story

Let’s see how Hope Has Multiple Faces, 100 words story, for each one of the plebeians, the free inhabitants of the (once) vast Roman Empire., after we saw the results on the Roman Empire of Greed, the Roman Kind.

Hope Has Multiple Faces

Life under Roman ruling offered another face to each new civitates.

To Rescuturme, a brave Dac soldier’s widow, it meant marriage to a Roman colonist, new traditions, and peace, finally.

For Comosicus, village priest, a new worship service, sung in Latin.

For Zoutulas, recruited to serve in Egypt, the hope of an adventurous life joining an eternally winning army.

For Agripina, who birthed seven to see two into adulthood, a winter alone. Her youngest, Dadas, had turned, ripping the rewards of a now flourishing wine-trade. Her eldest, Daizus, was lost to the evergreen woods, laying in waiting; the upraising bubbling.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Hope Has Multiple Faces, 100 words story, Sarmizegetusa Regia Great Circular Sanctuary, a Sacred Area
Sarmizegetusa Regia Great Circular Sanctuary, a Sacred Area. Dacia, today Transylvania

Hope Has Multiple Faces, 100 words story – notes

Civitas, plural Civitates, citizenship in ancient Rome.

The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome, the general body of free Roman citizens who were not patricians.

Rescuturme is a Dacian name that translates to ‘brilliant splendor’

Comosicus was a Dacian High Priest and King who lived in the 1st century BC

Zoutula, together with other Dacian names, were recorded in Egyptian ostraca (shards of pottery) after the Roman conquest has recruited many Dac soldiers who were later stationed in East Egypt. Perhaps the ostracon was the very first military dog-tag.

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Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story

Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story

Greed, of the Roman Kind, is the next 100 words story following the timeline of Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans and of Echoes of a Battle, the Getae before it. You will find a short explanatory paragraph at the end.

Greed, of the Roman Kind

From his balcony of marble whiter than Venus’ bosom the King found solace in the Seven Hills of his beloved urbs.  Here, in the heart of his Empire all dreams, glory or greed, came alive. By Jupiter!

Yet tonight the same nightmare returned to shake this King awake.

He was an eagle with wings spanning across Mare Nostrum. His heart, fearless. His beak, fatal. He took down the Phoenix in one dive.

Then a temple, ahead, sheltering small birds. He, still ravenous, fell upon them. Again and again. Till the last brown bird killed her chicks leaving the King lonesome.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story - Scene from Trajan's Column in Rome, The Burning of a Dacian Town
A scene from Trajan’s Column in Rome, scene XXV, The Burning of a Dacian Town

Greed, of the Roman Kind – a few comments

Seven hills – a geographical location found in the heart of Rome

Urbs (Latin) – city.

Jupiter was the Roman king of Gods, is even depicted on Trajan’s Column as supporting the Roman cause in their wars against the Dacians.

The eagle (Aquila in Latin) was a symbol for the Roman army, and a symbol for Rome as the ideal ruler in the global sphere.

Mare Nostrum (Latin) – the Mediterranean Sea, literally translated to ‘Our Sea.’

At the Battle of Carthage (146 BCE), the last to fall was the Temple of Eshmun, where the wife of a Carthagian commander sacrificed her sons right in front of the Romans, then killed herself. The Romans attacked out of revenge and greed, killed all Carthagians, then wiped the city off the face of the earth.

Plutarch wrote in Pompey, on the fall of the Roman Republic: “Greed and personal rivalry… had brought the empire to such a pass… here the whole manhood and might of single state was involved in self-destruction – a clear enough lesson of how blind and how mad a thing human nature is when under the sway of passion.”

For the greed (greed for power and land) of Roman Emperors prompted and accelerated the collapse of moral integrity and tradition, by propelling a corrupt political system that undermined trust. Glory and power belonged to the riches, skills and expertise were no longer appreciated and honored. On the other hand, poverty and virtue were considered a stigma, and soon even the masses became to welcome and fill themselves with greed, thus bringing the foundation of the Empire to collapse.

Thank you for reading. As always, you can find my books on Amazon.

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans, 100 Words Story

falx gladius Daoi Romans

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans was inspired by the Dacian – Roman wars that are a great part of Romania’s ancient history, especially the battle from Tapae when the Dacians, under the ruling of Decebal, defeated the Roman army.

Before reading Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans a few historical terms need explaining.

Who were the Dáoi?

Dáoi, [ˈd̪aːoːihː], (wolves) is the name by which the Dacians (part of the original tribes inhabiting today’s Romania) called themselves. We know from Strabon (historian and geographer, 63 BC – 23 AD). Even the Dacian battle flag, named Draco, looked like a wolf head with several metal tongues and a dragon’s body. It made a terrible, hissing sound whenever the wind blew through it.

Dacian flag, wolf head with dragon body
Dacian flag, Draco, wolf head with dragon body

Have the Romans ever been defeated when at the height of their power?

Yes. During 86- 88 AD, when the Roman Empire was ruled by King Domitian, and their empire’s east border was marked by the Danube River, Dacian King Duras led his troops of Dacians in an attack of Moesia (south of Danube). King Duras ruled Dacia after Burebista and right before Decebalus.

The Dacians attack from 86 AD took the Romans by surprise. As a result Roman King Domitian arrived in Moesia to see to the province’s increased defenses and to plan a further attack against the Dacians, north of Danube…

What is a falx?

The falx was the Dacian’s weapon of choice. It had a curved blade that was sharp on the inside edge. Romans were so impressed by it that they adopted it as a siege hook.

Transylvania during the Roman Dacia until 4th century AD - Roman monument commemorating the Battle of Adamclisi shows Dacian warriors wielding a two-handed falx, weapon later used by Romans as siege hook
Roman monument commemorating the Battle of Adamclisi shows Dacian warriors wielding a two-handed falx, weapon later used by Romans as siege hook

What is a gladius?

A gladius is a sword used by Roman foot soldiers.

Today I have two versions for my 100 words story as my family is torn between them 🙂

Which one do you prefer?

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans (version 1)

The Romans rolled towards Danube like a giant mill stone, carving roads through grasslands, converting free-thinking tribes into proud Roman citizens.

The legionaries’ sure-footing hesitated only once. Not after they traversed Danube to enter the land with thick forests… Nor after they rattled their two-edged gladius against the local’s deadly falx… And nor after the natives surprised them with advanced weaponry and war tactics.

But later, when their opponents showed themselves from underneath their wolf-skin coverings. Immortal beasts, not humans. Unafraid to trade their life for eternity. Unimpeded to kill or be killed. True wolves.  

They were the Dáoi, Dacians.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans (version 2)

The Romans rolled towards Danube like a giant mill stone carving roads, converting free-thinking tribes to proud citizens.

The legionaries’ sure-footing never hesitated, nor did their hand when thrusting the gladius to hilt. Their eyes never flinched from slaying enemies. Acta, non verba.

Until they traversed Danube entering an eerie forested land. Here, their double-edged gladius rattled against the local’s single-edged falx. Their reinforced shields half-split as did their helmets. Their progressive self shrank. Bewitched, they argued, by the immortal wolf-spirit inhabiting these lands. Beasts, not humans. Trading their lives for eternity and land (terra) not for victory.

The Dáoi.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

~~~

Transylvania during the Roman Dacia and until 4th century AD might also interest you.

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Echoes of a Battle, the Getae, 100 Words Story

Echoes of a Battle, Getae, Romania

Echoes of a Battle, the Getae, is the next 100 words story following the historical timeline of Romania’s past. Although most of these stories focus on Transylvania, ‘Echoes of a Battle’ looks at the Getae, a Thracian tribe that occupied the left and right bancs of Danube River between 6th – 1st centuries BC.

Next to the Dacians who lived in the mountainous area of Transylvania, towards the valley of Mures river, the Getae are some of the first ancestors of the Romanians.

Their bravery and fairness was legendary.

Echoes of a Battle, the Getae

It was the chickens’ cry that covered the lost echoes of metal ringing against metal, not the widows’ and mothers’ heartache. In the aftermath of battle, the lambs’ bleating sang for the souls rushed to Zalmoxis’ kingdom, not the wake preceding the burial.

‘Prepare the feast!’ Getae King Dromihete ordered. ‘Balance after battle, Zalmoxis’ word.’

The gold plates their Thracian prisoners ate from shone under the bonfires and the gleaming stars above, more tonight. Around, the Getae’s wooden spoons kept a peaceful rhythm against wooden dishes.

Freed by daybreak, the prisoners broadcasted about a tribe worthier, wiser than any others.

© Patricia Furstenberg, 2001, All Rights Reserved.

The seed of this story

Ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the Getae that they were “the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes”.

We also know that around 300BC Getae king Dromichaetes won a great battle against Thracian king Lysimachus (successor of Alexander the Great and ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon). The Getae held Lysimachus captive, yet in the aftermath of his victory Dromichaetes ordered a great feast. During this feast the Getae ate with the same wooden spoons and plates they always used, while the Thracian prisoners and Lysimachus received gold spoons and plates and were afterwards released.

Thus, Dromichaetes wished to prove that a rich kingdom like the one ruled by Lysimachus is in no need of a poor land like the one his people occupied.

Dromichaetes also released Lysimachus knowing that freeing an enemy king would bring them greater political advantage than killing it.

Transylvania from the Iron Age to Roman Dacia (1 100 BC – 150 AD)

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