"The beautiful and the ugly in chaotic harmony"
Similarly to other European masks Škoromati are divided into those who are beautiful and the others who are ugly. The division derives from the basis of the proverbial fight between good and evil, kind and hostile, beautiful and ugly.
In written sources Škoromati were first mentioned already in the first half of the 14th century. The local council of Cividale del Friuli (a town in Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Northern Italy) banned Škoromati masks and outfit (habitu scaramatte) from the streets unless the bearer was able to provide an authorisation from the city council. 82 years later the masks were mentioned for the second time as sgaravatte. Due to these two documents Škoromati are nowadays known as the first and the oldest masks in Slovenia. Despite the fact that Brkini (a plateau surrounded by Karst, Istria and Kvarner Gulf) lie one hundred kilometres eastwards from Škoromati first mentioning, the tradition of Škoromati and the names of the masks have been kept alive for more than 700 years
Niko Kuret (1906-1995) assumed that the Friulani word scaramatte was introduced to Brkini after 1228 at the time of The Patriarchate of Aquileia when Brkini were the border area between The Patriarchate and the Counts of Gorizia.
In this way the locals became acquainted with the character of scaramatta and took over its image as well as its name which started to be used for all the masks in the area. According to Kuret škoromat derives from the German word Scharwachter which means a night keeper. He claims that the only real Škoromat is nowadays Škopit’s /ʃko'pɪt / gear consists of a broad black cloak with a bell and lamp attached to his belt, all of which speaks in favour of his past warrior origin.
Škoromati from Hrušica perform the act of Poberija early on Carnival Saturday when they gather in the centre of the village from where the party tours the village and then heads towards the most distant houses in the village. From there Poberini break from the main party to gather the gifts from door to door. The modern times can be noticed even in the nature of the gifts: in the past locals mainly gave sausages, ham, lard, eggs and other food but nowadays people mainly give money. Poberini are different from other Škoromati since their faces are not covered so people are able to see who they are letting into their homes. Poberini receive gifts from a housekeeper, thank for them and wish for plentiful harvest, happiness and health in the upcoming year, and at the same time invite the family to a dinner at the end of Poberija. The rest of Škoromati in the meantime roams freely around the village and stop in local pubs or in front of the houses where they are greeted by tables full of food and drink.
BURYING OF "CARNIVAL KING"
All good things come to an end and Škoromatija (Škoromati tradition) is no exception. In an act of symbolism the Carnival King (a puppet) is on Ash Wednesday set on fire by local boys and men. The Carnival King puppet is made from straw and is on the first day of the carnival attached to a beam or a tree in the middle of the village. On the Ash Wednesday the puppet is carefully removed, put on a bier and carried around the village. Everybody appears to be very sad and children are told to cry after the Carnival whereas the elders secretly laugh to the uncanny procession.
The Carnival King is then carried out of the village to a sacred spot that has been in use for centuries where he is charged with all the mishaps that happened in the village during or even before the carnival. He is then sentenced to death at the stake. People set the puppet on fire and wait until there is nothing left of it but ashes.