During February in the small Hungarian town of Mohács, the townspeople dress as horned monsters, wander the town swilling spiced wine and homemade pálinka, and make as much noise as humanly possible.
Lasting for approximately one week, and ending the day before Ash Wednesday, Busójárás is a celebration and affirmation of life for the Šokci, the ethnic Croatian minority population living in Mohács. During the penultimate night of the festival, a man made of straw is carried by cart into the center of town and then burned in a bonfire while the townspeople hold hands and dance the kolo in a circle around the blaze.
Busójárás has much in common with other carnival festivals that celebrate the end of winter. However, according to the official story, the roots of the festival date back to the Battle of Mohács in 1526. As legend has it, the villagers dressed up as fearsome monsters and drove away the invading Turkish army.
The male busos wear a traditional sheepskin cloak, women’s wool stockings under men’s pants, and a carved monster mask. As master buso mask-maker Engelbert Antal believes, the buso’s mask isn’t to simply change his outer appearance—instead, it is to alter the person behind the mask. As such, each mask is crafted specifically for each buso. The woolen stockings are part of a carnival pagan tradition embracing the duality of male and female. Although there are now a few female busos, women who participate in the festival typically dress up in clothing reminiscent of female Ottoman Turks. During Carnival time, all rules are ignored and everything is permitted, and some claim that the excesses of the celebration were key to the small Šokci population’s survival in Mohács, as no one could question the parentage of children conceived during Busójárás.
During the festival there are numerous traditional music performances, costumed folk dancing, buso parades, and in between scheduled events, general mayhem. Like every Carnival celebration, alcohol is consumed in abundance, and the busos are often very, very drunk. Visitors to Busójárás should be warned that it’s nearly impossible to witness the carnival without somehow being dragged into it. It’s common for adult spectators to have flour thrown on them, be offered drinks from large flasks of spiced wine, and to be groped and/or dry-humped (albeit for comic effect) by the busos.
Admission to the festival is free, although it’s best to arrange a place to stay ahead of time. Although it is possible to stay in Mohács itself, many visitors to the festival prefer to stay in one of the pesions available to rent in the nearby wine region of Villány.
One day I was out milking the cows. Mr. Dave come down into the field, and he had a paper in his hand. ‘Listen to me, Tom,’ he said, ‘listen to what I reads you.’ And he read from a paper all about how I was free. You can’t tell how I felt. ‘You’re jokin’ me.’ I says. ‘No, I ain’t,’ says he. ‘You’re free.’ ‘No,’ says I, ‘it’s a joke.’ ‘No,’ says he, ‘it’s a law that I got to read this paper to you. Now listen while I read it again.’
But still I wouldn’t believe him. ‘Just go up to the house,’ says he, ‘and ask Mrs. Robinson. She’ll tell you.’ So I went. ‘It’s a joke,’ I says to her. ‘Did you ever know your master to tell you a lie?’ she says. ‘No,’ says I, ‘I ain’t.’ ‘Well,’ she says, ‘the war’s over and you’re free.’
By that time I thought maybe she was telling me what was right. ‘Miss Robinson,’ says I, ‘can I go over to see the Smiths?’ — they was a colored family that lived nearby. ‘Don’t you understand,’ says she, ‘you’re free. You don’t have to ask me what you can do. Run along, child.’
And so I went. And do you know why I was a-going? I wanted to find out if they was free too. I just couldn’t take it all in. I couldn’t believe we was all free alike.
Was I happy? Law, miss. You can take anything. No matter how good you treat it — it wants to be free. You can treat it good and feed it good and give it everything it seems to want — but if you open the cage — it’s happy.
– Former slave Tom Robinson, 88, of Hot Springs, Ark., interviewed by the Federal Writers’ Project for the Slave Narrative Collection of 1936-38
via Long Time Coming.
F. Scott Hess is an oil painter originally hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, but is currently based out of Los Angeles, California. Hess has exhibited his work internationally from Austria, France, Germany, and all throughout the United States. Clearly, Hess’ work truly speaks for itself, as he explores themes that “magnify and reveal human frailties” depicted through intriguing narrative scenes.
Snake handling or serpent handling is a religious ritual in a small number of Pentecostal churches in the U.S., usually characterized as rural and part of the Holiness movement. The practice began in the early 20th century in Appalachia, spreading to mostly coal mining towns. The practice plays only a small part of the church service of churches that practice snake handling. Practitioners believe serpent handling dates to antiquity and quote the Book of Mark and the Book of Luke to support the practice:
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18″
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
Wherever Joe Tamargo goes, people stare at his forearms. He likes it that way. Years ago, Tamargo, a resident of Rochester, New York, auctioned off space on his arms, transforming himself into a human billboard. “I just thought that would be the most visible place possible for people,” he told me. Today, they’re covered in tattoos bearing the logos of 15 different websites.
“When I tell them the story, they’re like, ‘Yo, that’s pretty cool. I’m going to check out those websites,'” Tamargo, 38, says of people who see him in public. “And then they get there and there’s nothing on the website.” Tamargo is not just a walking advertisement. He’s a walking advertisement for businesses that no longer exist.
Energetic dot-coms flush with startup cash were known in the late 1990s and 2000s for their marketing stunts. Of course, many of those businesses imploded. But unlike their expensive Super Bowl ads, tattoos aren’t so ephemeral. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people out there with the domain names of defunct websites etched prominently and permanently on their skin, the walking detritus of zombie websites’ marketing campaigns.