Costumes and Masks

At least three weeks are needed to make the mask. The preparation, however, for the inhabitants of every village in Graovo, begins months earlier, because the holiday of Surva in these places is a religion. The faces are heads of whimsical  creatures and fantastic animals with scary faces and protruding teeth, horns, rattle beaks, or complex structures made of poultry feathers on a wooden frame.  The faces reach 2 – 2.60 m in height and 1-1.50 m in width. They are different in shapes – three-walled in the form of a pyramid, four-walled, elliptical, star-shaped, polygonal. When making the masks the master’s imagination knows no limits. Every year, new characters appear, sometimes they are made in tiers in the air. In Graovo region the masks are made of sheep and goat fur, home bird wings and feathers, horns, corn leaves, hemp. Most of them are zoomorphic, and rarely: anthropomorphic. In other places they are made of cloth, wool, beads, dried plants, paper flowers. The cow-bells girding the Survakars’ waists are an inseparable part from the costumes. They are of varying size and in ritual dances their sounds conquer and enchant. For men, and for the past 2-3 decades, also for women and children, the long preparation for Surova is like the most important spectacle in their lives. Everyone has a role for which they makes they own suits and masks. The different villages also have different types of masks, such as faces (veneers), bowls, zevala – as they call those masks with more faces and snouts. They are made with the familiar and above-listed materials to make each one of the masked men “to be other”, different from himself. And some time ago it was only necessary to stain your face, the customs experts are explaining nowadays, Sometimes, for making the masks, the people ask for the services of a master who makes masks for friends and relatives. Each of the Sourvakar groups in Breznik municipality is distinguished by its nature, customs and colorfulness of its faces, costumes and characters. The only requirement to the masked people is to be so scary that all evils have to be frightened and run far away. For this purpose, the Survakars make their masks so that they acquire the appearance of whimsical, mysterious and fearsome creatures. It requires enormous craftsmanship and rich imagination to make  attractive faces with various “abilities” – for example, the mouth opens, the teeth clatter and the like. The materials from which the Survakar masks are made are various. Feathers of different types of birds, skins, fabrics, popcorn, horns, wool, yarn, wood, etc. are used. The costumes are mainly 2 types – made only from furs and skins or from cut rags. Sometimes the mask is just a a face dyed black with moustaches and a beard made of wool, threads and hemp attached thereon.