Halubian Bell Bearers


At Halubje, the western part of the Kastav region, in the surroundings of Rijeka, unique folk customs have maintained -"Zvoncari" (bellmen) - the origin of wish dates back to prehistoric times.

The customs are typical for the regions in which cattle was raised - we know it from the equipment of "Zvoncari" as their primary task was to scare away evil spirits of winter and to stir up new spring-time cycle.

"Zvoncari" have a sheepskin thrown over and a big bell, tied around their waist, on their back. On their heads they wear special stylised masks, representing strange animal heads with a red tongue stuck out and with horns. "Zvoncari" wear white trousers and sailor's striped shirts. In their hands they hold a "balta" or "bacuka" -stylised mace.

In carnival time regardless of weather conditions, "Zvoncari" as a big group go from village to village in the region, following always the same schedule drawn up centuries ago. There is a legend telling how "Zvoncari" scared away Tatars or Turks when they tried to invade the region: the shepherds of that time wore sheepskin, put a mask on their heads, belted on a bell, and producing a deafening noise scared away the enemy. That is why the equipment of a "Zvoncar" includes elements of arms.

The magic function of "Zvoncari" has nowdays been pushed into the background. With their impressive appearance they are first-class touristic attraction. They are well known also outside their region.

"Zvoncari" are the best guardians of folk tradition and the identity of Halubje and the Kastav Region. They are regular participants of international "Rijeka Carnival", the largest one in Croatia and one of the best known in Europe.