A sword dance nurtured on the Croatian island of Korčula since the 16th century features on new stamp.
Zagreb, July 7, 2023 – Croatian Post will release a new commemorative postage stamp, “PUmed, Mediterranean Festivals – Moreška,” into circulation on July 10, 2023.
The postage stamp was created in collaboration with the Association of Postal Operators of Mediterranean Countries, and this collaboration was initiated for the first time in 2015.
The motif on the stamp, created by Dean Roksandić, a designer from Zagreb, based on a photograph by Mario Romulić and Dražen Stojčić, photographers from Osijek, depicts the battle dance of Moreška.
The nominal value of the stamp is 1.99 euros, and it has been issued in a sheet of 16 stamps with a print run of 30,000 copies. Croatian Post has also printed a commemorative First Day Cover (FDC).
Moreška is a sword dance that combines dramatic action and musical accompaniment into a unique connected whole. In seven fencing figures or “kolapas,” the armies of the Black King and the White King fight for the just victory of love. The Black King, Moro, has abducted the bride, Bul, from the White King, Osman. In the final figure, the army of the Black King is defeated. In a sign of submission, he falls to the ground and surrenders his weapons and Bul to King Osman. King Osman frees Bul from the chains, lifts the veil covering her face, and kisses her.
The Moreška performers are dressed in picturesque costumes that significantly contribute to the overall impression of the performance. The white soldiers are dressed in red suits, while the black soldiers wear black. The kings wear crowns on their heads, and the soldiers wear caps that adorn and protect them in battle. In the past, Moreška was performed with the accompaniment of a smaller number of instruments, while the musical accompaniment for the Korčula Moreška was composed by Krsto Odak.
In the past, Moreška was performed in numerous cities in the European Mediterranean, and it is only preserved in Korčula among all the places on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. It has been nurtured in Korčula since the 16th century, although the earliest mention of the Korčula Moreška dates back to the 17th century. Unlike the original island “kumpanije,” Moreška originated from the countries in Europe that have a connection with Korčula, which is why it is called “Korčula’s Moreška.”
This dance was proclaimed an intangible cultural heritage of the Republic of Croatia in 2007. The dance skills of the Moreška performers are passed down from generation to generation.
In Korčula, Moreška used to be performed once a year on the feast day of St. Theodore, the co-patron saint of Korčula, which is celebrated on July 29. It was also performed in front of distinguished guests in Korčula. In recent times, the Korčula Moreška has appeared at almost all important festivals in Croatia and Europe (including the opening of the first International Folklore Festival in 1966 and the Mediterranean Games in Split in 1979). Today, there are two societies in Korčula that perform Moreška: the Cultural and Artistic Society “Moreška” and the Harmony Society “St. Cecilia.”
Text by Dr. Marija Hajdić, Director of the City Museum of Korčula.