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.

NEW: A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories
Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

14 Replies to “Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance, 100 words story”

  1. I knew about Calușarii as an ancient ritualistic dance to fight off evil spirits, and heal the sick, but not about all the other info. Quite interesting. Thank you! ❤️ Off topic: I still can’t see the pictures. Ugh! I don’t have Twitter…

    1. I was sure you will be familiar with Calusarii 😉

      Jetpack plugin is causing my images not to show in the post preview / browser, although I can see them in Media Library.
      All my updates on the blog have been done.

      If I deactivate the Jetpack plugin the images are visible in browser, but then I have to say goodbye to WordPress and its community.

      So I will keep the Jetpack plugin active until the 6th of April when its next update is scheduled for. Hopefully it will fix my issue.
      But I won’t publish any more blog posts until then.

      1. Now I regret my whining. That wasn’t the idea. 6th April sounds far, far away, especially when I’m waiting eagerly the next installment from the Ferris Wheel / Masks / Balloon story. 🙁

        1. It wasn’t that, Jo. No one could see the images so it made the blog post pointless. But I’m working on it.

          I raised the question in the WordPress / Jetpack forum. Hopefully someone will be able to help.

          Meanwhile I can try something else, but it requires time and my husband’s help.

          If that doesn’t work either, I will uninstall Jetpack and use different plugins in its place, it’s not like Jetpack is the last thing in this world.

          Thanks, Jo.

          1. ❤️ I agree. I like words, and I’m interested in the story itself, but I must admit that a picture (or more) adds value to a blog post. My worry is that you’ll continue to write and then post 3-5 articles in one day which would be overwhelming for one of your readers – me! 🙂 If you do that I’ll read only the African animals story and balloon ride sequel. There, now you know! 🙂

      1. Foarte ciudat. Pot să văd videoclipul… dar nu și fotografiile. Nu ocupă un videoclip mai mult spațiu decât o fotografie? Întrebare retorică. Nu pricep nimic din chestiile astea tehnice. Știu doar că n-o să mai publici nimic un timp, iar asta nu mă încântă deloc.

        1. The video is inserted as a HTML code. It is handled different than the images you insert manually.

          The video on this page you actually view in YouTube.

          Here’s an example.

          Let’s say you wish to insert in a blog post a video about the 2021 Oscar Nominees :), like this one here:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVP4RFw2NqU

          I press play and wait for the actual video to start plating, then I click on “Share” (underneath the video, after Thumbs up and Thumbs down).
          From the pop-up window I choose the first option <> Embed.
          I click once on the weird code on the right, and it will highlight it (it becomes blue), then I click “copy”, this option is underneath.
          The HTML code in now in my clipboard.

          THEN,
          With my blog post open in a separate browser tab, I click + (Add Block) and choose a “Custom HTML” block. In the little block, where it says “write HTML”, I do “paste” or Ctrl+V or anything you use to paste what you just copied from the YouTube.
          Then I click “Preview” , it will show the video, and “save” my work so far.

          And you have a video embedded in your blog post that doesn’t take up space.

          🙂

          1. OMG! I should save this and try it although I swear it sounds so, so complicated… Thanks for taking time to explain to little ol’ me. 🙂

  2. All peoples have their cultures. Their own ancestral traditions such as dances for various requirements. Knowing them increases our knowledge and our culture. Very good reading topic. I enjoyed it. A good weekend.
    Manuel Angel

    1. So very true.
      I am happy to her that you found my writing interesting.
      A lovely weekend o you too and kind thanks for visiting.

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