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date: 19 November 2019


  • Ivan Mačak


Metal rattles of Slovakia. Many have been found by archaeologists in the graves of children and women, and they were also used on horse harnesses until recently. It is thought that they had a protective function. Waggoners used metal rattles on their horses because, especially in winter, they might not be able to stop on tight bends of mountain roads, so their rattles warned oncoming drivers. Other rattles of Slovakia include the Betlehemská palica (also called búchacie palice, bunkoš, kyjak, štrngalo, palica gubačiarska), a richly decorated stamping stick with rattling metal elements. It is used at Christmas to emphasize the rhythm of recited texts in an old custom that embraces the beginning of a new solar cycle. The similar družbovská palica is a groom’s stick, also called fokoš or Ždiarska valaška (Ždiar hatchet). Modified weapons like this are sounded at traditional weddings for the symbolic conquest of the bride’s home, as well as to signal the beginning of the wedding ceremony....

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