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VILENICA AND VILENJAK: BEARERS OF AN EXTINCT FAIRY CULT

Authors
Publisher
Institute of Ethonology and Folklore Research
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Vilenica
  • Vilenjak (Vilenik
  • Vilovnjak)
  • Kult Vila
  • Progon Vještica
  • Pučka Kultura
  • Vilenica
  • Vilenjak (Vilenik
  • Vilovnjak)
  • Fairy Cult
  • Witch- -Hunting
  • Popular Culture
Disciplines
  • Astronomy
  • Literature
  • Religious Science

Abstract

This article traces a popular pre-Christian fairy cult in Croatia and broader, with vilenica and vilenjak as its bearers and practitioners. The sources analyzed are historical records, sixteenth-century literary fragments, theological writings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century ethnographic data. The author reconstructs and examines the morphology of the cult, its influence on the learned culture (Renaissance literary works), along with the theological endeavours to alter the social reception of an apparently widespread cult and to root it out. The Roman Catholic efforts to reform popular culture as well as the historical phenomenon of witch-hunting and its consequences contributed markedly to the disappearance of the contemporary awareness of vilenicas (f) and vilenjaks (vileniks, vilovnjaks) (m) as the central personages of a rich cosmological cult similar to those practised elsewhere in Europe.

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