Miranda do Douro nominates Danças dos Pauliteiros for Intangible Cultural Heritage

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The municipality of Miranda do Douro submitted today the candidacy of the “Danças Rituais de Pauliteiros nas Festas Tradicionais” to the National Inventory of PCI Intangible Cultural Heritage, being the initiative a historical moment for the Mirandese culture.

“This is a historical moment for the Mirandese culture, which has finally arrived. With the inscription of the ‘Danças Rituais de Pauliteiros nas Festas Tradicionais de Miranda do Douro’ we are preparing ourselves for other objectives such as the inscription of this theme in the intangible heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)”, said the Mayor of Miranda do Douro, Helena Barril, to the agency Lusa.

The Bragança district mayor also added that this registration process of the “Danças Rituais de Pauliteiros nas Festas Tradicionais de Miranda do Douro” might not be as quick as the one that happened with the “Capa de Honra Mirandesa”, since it would have to be done urgently.

“We will calmly wait for all this process of submission of the ‘Danças Rituais de Pauliteiros nas Festas Tradicionais de Miranda do Douro’ to the PCI matrix that now begins, and then we will start another work that will culminate in a UNESCO application. But we will take one step at a time”, said the Social Democrat mayor of Miranda do Douro.

The submission of this application comes at a time when Miranda do Douro is celebrating its 478th anniversary of elevation to city and diocese seat.

For Helder Ferreira, the coordinator of this work, the submission of the request for Inventory of the “Danças Rituais de Pauliteiros nas Festas Tradicionais de Miranda do Douro” to the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage concludes an entire research process and begins the last phase of all this work to register “one of the most iconic Portuguese traditional manifestations”.

Mário Correia, a researcher in this process, pointed out that, according to the defining formulations of intangible cultural heritage, people and their community experiences are the center of recognition of the associated cultural practices and know-how.

“In the case of the ‘paulitos dances’, they are not eligible as a mere folkloric representation or performance, but as an integral part of cultural and ceremonial manifestations that are structured and relevant in terms of collective participation and, as such, elements that promote social cohesion and the well-being of communities,” he said.

With historical reasons conveyed by consolidated currents of tradition, the option was to consider as a criterion susceptible of intangible cultural heritage recognition the ritual dances of pauliteiros in traditional Mirandese festivals.

There is no consensus among researchers as to the origin of the “Dança dos Pauliteiros”. The pauliteiros of Miranda are considered one of the greatest icons of national and Iberian folklore.

“It was born during the Iron Age in Transylvania and later spread to Europe,” some claim.

Some authors, such as the Abbot of Baçal, argue that its origin is due to the classical Pyrrhic warrior dance of the Greeks.

This researcher, already deceased and regarded as one of the greatest references in ethnography of the Northeast Transmontano, said that he saw few differences between this dance and the Pauliteiros dance, such as the substitution of tunics by skirts, the shield by a handkerchief over the shoulders, the decorated hats, and the use of the flute.

But the pauliteiros dance also shows traces of folk dances from southern France and in the sword dances of the Swiss in the Middle Ages.

The Romans would be responsible for spreading the Pyrrhic dance to this region.

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