Kukeri: The Forgotten Rituals of Bulgaria

project documents Bulgaria’s ancient, arcane and pagan
practices dating back thousands of years. Performed in the
country’s remote mountain regions, the annual practice of “Kukeri”
takes place at the end of January. The other-worldly rituals are
intended to dispel the evil spirits of winter which might otherwise
bring ill fortune or “loshotiya” to the community. Kukeri wear
wooden masks carved with the faces of haunting beasts and heavy
bells hang around their waists, creating a deafening symphony as
they dance and jump in hypnotic rhythms.

I spent weeks on the road travelling rural Bulgaria exploring
the villages and snow fields to capture portraits of the annual
ritual’s practitioners. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of
time in the Bulgarian mountains over the past four years and have
fallen for the mysterious traditions of these tiny villages,
steeped in their ancient folklore in this timeless and somewhat
forgotten corner of Europe. In our society, ceremony and ritual
have ceased to be a part of the cultural fabric in the way that
they once were. I was drawn to document a community that remains to
place so much value on folk law and ritual, with the practice still
alive and flourishing in the face of modernity.

@aronkleinphotography | www.aronklein.co.uk

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