Moreshka (Sword Dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Black King drags the Bula (the Muslim woman) in chains

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Black King drags the Bula (the Muslim woman) in chains

The Moreshka is the historic, traditional war dance (sword dance) from Korcula, Croatia.  Korcula is the only city along the Adriatic Coast to have preserved the dance tradition; it is performed by a troupe of local dancers and musicians several times a week, mainly for large groups of visiting tourists.

“The oldest Moreshka on record is that performed in Lerida in 1150, portraying the victory over the Moors and their expulsion from Aragon.  Later on, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, this dance spread over the Mediterranean area involving frequent changes both with regard to plot and protagonists…

“The name “Moreshka originates from the Spanish adjective morisco (Italian moresco), and is derived from the name Moor…

“According to the documents available to-date, the Moreshka was first mentioned in Korcula in a Latin eulogy of the early 18th century.  From this we can see that the Moreshka was a war-dance with swords and that there were two companies fighting…”

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Bula (in chains)

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Bula (in chains)

“The historical background to this plot is the actual fighting which went on between the whites (Christians) — Spaniards and others — and the Algerians and the Moroccans in the first half of the 18th century.  In the plot the Turks and the Arabs (Algerians and Moroccans) are taken to have a common interest in fighting against the “whites”, and the fact that the betrothed of the defeated enemy is turned into a slave serves to glorify the victor and humiliate the defeated.

“In the present-day Moreshka from Korcula the conflict lies mainly in the antagonism existing between the Turks and the Arabs, and the subject of the plot is the fight over a woman, who will be handed over to the winner to become his wife and not his slave.”  — quoted from Moreska: The War-dance from Korcula (published to commemorate thirty years of post-war reconstruction 1944 – 1974)

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Red King and Black King cross swords, preparing for battle

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Red King and Black King cross swords, preparing for battle

Osman (the Red King):

“Do not trust your sword —

Without honour and without honesty.

Treacherously, you wised to steal

My betrothed, by torturing her.

Where is your knightly honesty,

Where is your bravery?

How did you dare to enslave her?

Let me remind you

That the army from my court

Is ready to rescue her…”

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Bula implores the Red King and Black King to call off the battle

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Bula implores the Red King and Black King to call off the battle

Bula (enslaved in chains):

“Oh, knights!

Do something to stop your wars

Which wound my heart and draw tears of

Blood from my eyes.

Turn your sword on me

And let him live

Take my life

But my beloved [the Red King] spare.”

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Black Army enters

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Black Army enters

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Red Army and the Black Army engage in battle

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Red Army and the Black Army engage in battle

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  Fighting between the Red Army and the Black Army

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- Fighting between the Red Army and the Black Army

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Red Army is victorious

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Red Army is victorious

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The victorious Red King kisses the Bula

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The victorious Red King kisses the Bula

Bula:

“My dear, sweet love,

For whom my heart is longing,

Receive this gift of my eternal faith.

Take me, your constant love.”

Osman:
“Let this chaste kiss

Be a reward for all my suffering.”

Moreska (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia-  The Red King frees the Bula (who had loved him over the Black King)

Moreshka (sword dance) performed in Korcula, Croatia- The Red King frees the Bula (who had loved him over the Black King)

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