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A Member of the Wedding Party Called Kum, as Found around the Town of Novska, in Spatial Context
; Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (568 KB)
Černelić, M. (2001). Svatovska čast kuma u okolici Novske u prostornom kontekstu. Studia ethnologica Croatica, 12/13(1), 135-143. Preuzeto s http://hrcak.srce.hr/48530
The research of the wedding customs in the villages around the town of Novska has highlighted some interesting details concerning a member of the wedding party called kum. These details include the role of kum as the leader of the wedding party, the choice of godfather as the best man and some specific ways of showing respect and honor to the kum: formal summoning, fetching and send-off. The author tries to find the possible origin of these cultural elements by analyzing similar elements found in the whole region of the southeastern Europe.
The appearance of the best man (kum) as the leader of the wedding party, and his primary role of a wedding witness, can be found in Slavonia, Baranja, Srijem, and Bosnia (especially south-west and middle Bosnia and in Posavina), as well as among Bunjevci in the Danube region and Bunjevci inhabiting the coastal and Lika regions. Some specific elements of the role of the best man can be also found along the Adriatic coast (in Dalmatia, especially southern, in Boka Kotorska and in coastal regions of Montenegro). These elements of his role, including the choice of godfather as the best man, can be also found in the east of the South-east Europe: in regions inhabited by Vlasi in Serbia, in Macedonia, Bulgaria and among Vlasi in Northern Greece. In the regions inhabited by Vlasi, these specific elements are connected to a member of the wedding party called nunu or naš, which in the Rumanian language means 'the best man'.
The appearance of the best man (kum), as the leader of the wedding party is very specific. His primary role in most regions of the South-east Europe is the role of wedding witness, while the role of the leader of the wedding party is characteristic for the old guest (stari svat), and constitutes a part of the Slavic traditional heritage. The role of the party-member nunu or naš, as found among Vlasi, has many common traits with the role of the godfather as found in parts of the Dinaric and Pannonic regions. The confirmations of this phenomenon in the far southeastern parts of the Dinaric-Adriatic region are also very interesting. Such distribution of the specific elements of the role of the godfather could lead us to the assumption that they were formed before the obligationary witnesses were introduced to the wedding ceremony. Through this church-decree, the Latin title compater, kumpar, kum for the wedding witness, begun to spread to the region of South-east Europe and determined the name of the new member of the wedding party. So, the first developmental stage of its formation was
marked by the syncretism of Slavic and pre-Slavic cultural layers, followed by the additional changes caused by the introduction of the Christian elements from the West, which flooded the region. Thus, the member of the wedding party, who, after the introduction of the later Christian influences in the most parts of the South-east Europe, got the title kum, could originally belong to the indigenous Romanic cultural layer, and then transfer to other inhabitants who later arrived to this region. Cultural elements formed in this way, spread through centuries along the Adriatic-Dinaric region, firstly because of the migrations of the nomadic Vlasi in that direction. Cultural elements from this region were later transferred to other parts of the South-east Europe, towards the north and the west, because of the migrations caused by Turkish raiding. The distribution pattern of certain elements of the best man's role indicates that these were also the directions in which these elements spread in later period.
According to the former research, the specific elements of the best man's role could be found only in the eastern parts of the Pannonic region. The latest findings in the surroundings of Novska, together with some prior sporadic confirmations, have shown that the traces of these phenomena can be found in western parts of the Pannonic region, and have thus confirmed their wider presence in Croatia. The immigrants from Bosnia and Lika, where these elements appeared much earlier as the consequence of the above-mentioned migrations, have certainly contributed to the spreading of the characteristic role of the wedding leader, the choice of the best man, and the specific elements of his role, to the western parts of the Pannonic region.
wedding customs; a member of the wedding party called kum; Novska region
Hrčak ID: 48530
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