Folklore of Serbia

Serbia is one of Europe’s most culturally diverse countries with incredibly rich Cultural Inheritance. The borders between large empires ran through the territory of today’s Serbia for long periods in history: between the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire; and between the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian Empire /later Austria and Hungary/. As a result, while the north of Serbia is culturally Central European, the southern Serbia is rather more Oriental. Of course, both regions have influenced each other and so the distinction between north and south is artificial to some extent forming amazing diversified folklore treasure of Serbia. In the globalization era cultural heritage is of vital importance for a better understanding and respect among the peoples.

Uniquely skilled members of the Zavicaj /Homeland/ Ethno-traditional AssociationZavičaj Ensemble of Terzica avlija Ethno Park in Zlakusa village manufacture and exhibit more than 200 male and female traditional costumes – men and women authentic outfits of original patterns and extraordinary quality and beauty, made of authentic fabrics, patterns and decorations, that in Serbia and abroad represent rich and well preserved Serbian heritage, art and craftsmanship.

It is widely said in Serbia from the old times that “Who sings does not think evil”, which regards dancing as well. The traditional folk music origins from roots that can be traded for more than thousand years in the past, while the history of classical music in Serbia started in the middle of the 19th century. From historical point, the traditional or folk music of Serbia was in the last two century greatly influenced by the Turkish music and the music of Western Europe. There was always singing performed in all occasions as songs during some works or celebrations conveyed until the present from generation to generation, and from throat to throat, accompanied with tones of various instruments, trumpets, bag pipes,  drums…

Opanak /plural: opanci/ – are a kind of traditional shoes worn in the Medieval Serbia, but also in most countries of the Southeast Europe. The attributes of the Opanci shoes are : a construction of leather, lack of laces, durable, and have horn-like ending on toes. The design of the horn-like ending of opanci indicates the region of Serbia the shoes are from. The name of opanci itself comes from the Romanian opinci. Nowadays, opanci shoes are usually worn in rural areas of Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska and some other parts of former rural Yugoslavia. This type of shoe is typically worn by farmers or field workers who find it convenient and comfortable for working in their gardens and fields. Opanak /plural opanci/ can be bought at any open air market in Serbia and is genuine souvenir from Serbia – our favorite souvenir. The Opanci are considered as a national symbol in Serbia.

Kolo is a collective and very popular very old folk dance in Serbia where a group of people /usually several dozen, at the very least three/hold each other by the hands or around the waist dancing, ideally in a circle, hence the name. Kolo is connected with a number of beliefs and feasts and rituals of the Serbs, like the Koledo, which is winter solstice asked for water, and the end of the old Kolo (wheel, Solar wheel, solar year) and the beginning of the new Kolo (wheel, Solar wheel, solar year)… The water is needed to bath “the young god” who is called Božić. In Serbian the word “Bog” means god and the ending “ić” means small, young.  So Božić literally means young god, but also it means Christmas.

“Kolo dance represents powerful symbol of the Serbian national identity and mutual connectivity. The meaning of Kolo dance in the Serb population, the circled ring is of extraordinary importance. The ring represents the symbol of perfection and life, and this symbol remained in our country until the present right because of the kolo dance….. Rotundity of ORO reminds us that the ring represents the closed Universum and that our art includes round forms and so a number of music vibrations feature the same form. From this point of view, oro – kolo dance symbolized by the OLD SERBS starting significance of round dances which are connected with SLAVA Ritual of Resurrection of one God. Kolo is preserved by the Serbs but alos by the other people of the Serbian race – the Czecks, Slovaks, Romanians, Serbs of Belomorje, Ukraineans, Belorusians and Russians. So, the kolo dance is performed from the Balkans till the Baltic Sea, from the East through Dniester. Kolo dance was always more than a dance. Through kolo there is the continual and unbreakable line which makes unity and collective spirit of our people”. Blagoje Misic

There is almost no movement above the waist when kolo dance is performed. There are numerous types of the kolo dance in Serbia – Uzicko kolo, Cacak, Moravac, Kolubarski vez kolo... The characteristic rhythm of the kolo dance is 2/8, so called in local language ‘dvojka’, but there are also often rhythms of 7/8 or 9/8, depending of the part of Serbia they come from. The kolo folk dance is accompanied by instrumental two-beat music with the same name, made most often with an accordion, but also with other instruments: frula, tamburica or harmonica /accordion/. This Serbian original folk dance is usually very simple to learn, and experienced dancers dance kolo with great virtuosity due to different ornamental elements they add, such as syncopated steps etc. Kolo was once played by churches or at the theater and on wedding ceremonies and other various folk and joyful events. It has always symbolized the nation’s unity on the common ideals and the same wishes and overall happiness. Kolo traditional folk dance is part of intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Ethnic Dress in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries

Traditional instruments

The Folklore and Music Ensembles of Serbia :