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Carpathian Sheep Transhumance 2013

- Echo of the common history of the Carpathians


Transhumance pastoralism -  is a form of pastoral wandering under the supervision of the shepherds, which consists of seasonal movement of the flocks (especially sheep) on the  established routes from lowlands to mountain pastures in the summer and back to the villages in the autumn and winter time.


Roots of the communities living in the Carpathians come from the pastoral traditions, people have a lot in common: history, culture, lifestyle and sheep.


 Carpathian Sheep Transhumance 2013 

It is a project of traditional movement of the shepherds with 300 sheep through the Carpathians, which is organised to celebrate historical transhumance of the Vlach shepherds, which in the past led to the settlement of the mountain area and the creation of a common pastoral culture in the Carpathians.

  • Time of the project: from May till August 2013

  • Route: mountain  areas of the Carpathian countries – aprox.1400 km

–  from Transylvania – Romania, through Ucraine to Poland (in the project also short parts of Czech Republic and Slovakia)

  • Main organizers:

Foundation „Pasterstwo Transhumancyjne” - Poland and Asotiatia Transhumanta - Romania

- which take care of the preservation of the traditional pastoralism and cultural heritage in the Carpathians.The project involves a wide  cooperation with NGOs, local governments, local  institutions, media and sponsors. Popularization of the project will be carried out also by organizing a series of cultural events and discussion panels in the regions on the route or nearby the route of the transhumance.


The main objective of the Transhumance is the international meeting of people who live and work in the Carpathians, their integration, the ability to learn and to show the cultural wealth of the inhabitants, as well as the richness and uniqueness of the nature. The priority for the project is the sustainable development of the mountain areas.



  • Promotion of regional products i.e. traditional sheep cheeses and meat products , as healthy and organic food.

  • Promotion of hand made products and folk crafts.

  • Integration of communities in the Carpathians - supraregional cooperation is the measurable effect we expect after “Transhumance”, registering in the records of the Carpathian Convention and the main principles of European Union integration.

  • Promotion of culture and traditions in the Carpathians - regional organisations and local governments should use its diversity for closer cooperation,  reduce all barriers and use the differences between the regions to  enrich a comprehensive culture of the Carpathians, and join in actions by taking a subsequent cooperation for the promotion of culture and traditions of the Carpathians.

  • Drawing attention to ecological and cultural values of the Carpathians - society's recognition that the return of the traditional pastoral farming on the Carpathian lands is capable of restoring balance in nature,  as well as bring to the people measurable economic benefits in the system of sustainable management in mountain and foothill areas.  

  • Cooperation with the institutions and organisations protecting nature - that shepherds are aware of the impact on the conservation of nature becoming partners in realising tasks for the sake of the common welfare and well-being. 



 "... Europe is created by culture ..."

The basis of the Carpathian culture are the shepherding traditions, which influence music, dances, colorful highlanders’ costumes, everyday life and customs. These shepherding traditions are based on love to the nature and to another human being.


We invite you to cooperate and participate in the project
"Transhumance 2013".


Note: Transhumance will be conducted in accordance with applicable law and regulations, under the veterinary supervision. The priority of the project is the welfare and safety of participating animals and people.





The main goal of the project „Carpathian Sheep Transhumance 2013” is to strengthen the cultural area, common to the Europeans living in the mid-west part of the continent,  joined by  the mountain chain of the Carpathians and based on a common cultural heritage.

This goal will be achieved by  series of cultural, artistic and scientific actions carried out in the period from May to December 2013. The objective of the creators of the draft is to strengthen  the cultural cooperation of people living and working in the Carpathians, as well as promotion of cultural heritage and its performance  through the prism of common traditions and European values.

The main element of the project will be aprox.100-days traditional journey of shepherds with sheep (transhumance) through the countries in the Carpathians,  organized to celebrate the transhumance of the Vlach shepherds from the past times, which led to the settlement of the mountain areas and  creation of a common mountain pastoral culture.  Journey  will be followed by numerous  of cultural events taking place on the route of the transhumance – starting from Romania, through  Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.


During the events there will be:

  • festivals presenting pastoral traditions,

  • local cultural events on the route – with presentation of musicians, dancing groups and craftsmen and regional food (traditional healthy food, dishes, etc.)

  • presentation of the traditional regional products (healthy food, dishes, etc.)




These events will be on the one hand an opportunity for the presentation and collaboration between artists and, on the other  - the chance to popularize the traditions and mountain culture among local communities on or nearby the route of the transhumance. It will also allow participants of the project to trace how craft and cultural traditions of the people evolved together with the changing of social, economic and environmental conditions in the regions.

The events will be followed by meetings in the form of discussion panels of craftsmen,  artists, businessmen, local governmental representatives and non-governmental organizations aimed at working on common development strategies and management  of the cultural heritage in the Carpathians. At the end of the project will take place a summarizing event with signing the joint declaration of cultural cooperation between local representatives of countries participating in the draft


Carpathian Sheep Transhumance – traditional pastoral journey


The main activity of the project is to restore transhumance - traditional  journey of the shepherds with the herd of sheep – so called “transhumance pastoralism”.

In contrast from classical nomad – the transhumance is a seasonal, permanent movement of  flocks to summer grazing areas (mountain) from the winter grazing areas (in the plains foothill areas, in the valleys, etc.), however, its centre remains constant village - where part of the population stays and grows the land.

In Europe  transhumance pastoralism fade in last decades. The traditional transhumance communities  have been economically marginalized according to the drop the cost-effectiveness of extensive pastoralism. Mountain villages started to die as a result of the mass migration of the young people to the cities, which offered work in industry and services.

The main objective of this project is to regenerate and recover traditions and customs that are characteristic for traditional communities Carpathian communities, such as:


  • inflammation of the “watra” (the sacred fire) in the shepherd's hut,
  • mixing: on the beginning sheep are put together into one field, where in the middle there is a cut brad tree and sheep are led by shepherds to go around it three times. The purpose of this ritual is to mix sheep  - typically from different owners -  to one herd.
  • prayers: shepherds comes in the middle of the herd, kneel  and calls to prayer all the owners of the sheep and guests surrounding them;
  • counting: is  important to account for the owners who gave their animals under the care of the shepherd. Counting is to ten, for every ten sheep, shepherds (counts several of them in order to avoid confusion) cut a single scratch on the wooden board.
  • End of the season – counting the sheep and give them back to the owners for winter time
  • And others


The events will be attended by the accompanying to the transhumance project: craftsmen, artists, dancers, singers, musicians, owners of the sheep, lands - people from all project partner countries: Polish, Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic and Slovakia - a total of about 50 people. The journey will be attended by experienced pastors - max. 8 people (shepherds and guides). They will be accompanied, as in the traditional wandering,  by animals: dogs, donkeys, horses and aprox. 300 sheep  During the 100-day journey, the participants will share their customs and cultural traditions. This will be an opportunity to strengthen existing cultural cooperation between the  high mountain shepherds.


Transhumance journey will start in May and finish in August 2013.


Actions 3. Cultural events

An important element of the project is the organization of cultural events aimed at promoting the common cultural heritage of the Carpathians and the strengthening of cultural cooperation between the countries in the region bordering the Carpathians. All events will be held on the route of transhumance or close to the route. Some of these events are organized regularly every year, some events will be specifically organized to promote Transhumance. Events will be organized by the partners of the project, in cooperation with local governments, NGOs and the local community. The participation of such a large group of social partners is to increase their involvement in cultural activities in their regions, strengthen cultural ties and the inclusion of intercultural dialogue between representatives of different cultures - at all events, will present craftsmen, artists and people from the partner countries. Thanks to it, cultural diversity will be promoted as both: exhibitors participating in events and participants-observers will be able to see how these same beliefs, ideas, cultural values based on common pastoral traditions are interpreted in different European regions.

All events will be partly financed by the partners, local authorities and local NGOs.




(Route: Brasov – Mures - Cluj – Bistrita – Nasaud – Maramures – border: Sighetu Marmatiei)


11 May 2013 – Transhumance Inauguration  –  Rotbav (region Brasov)

organizers: „Asociatia Transhumanta”, local authorities, local non-governmental organizations - NGOs

Plan of the event:

  • official project opening  – traditional custom of mixing the sheep,
  • taking stock to prayers with blessing and the presentation of the customs associated with the output of sheep for summer grazing,
  • presentation of local craft
  • presentation of clothes, music, regional dancing group, etc.
  • presentation of regional traditional products (cheese, meat, bakery, honey, jams, homemade preserves and other healthy natural food) 
  • presentation of regional cuisine


18 May 2013 - presentation of traditional regional products at the fair Slow Food Sighisoara

organizers: Asociatia Transhumanta, Slow Food Sighisoara, local partners

Plan of the event:

  • presentation of regional traditional products (cheese, meat, bakery, honey, jams, homemade preserves and other healthy natural food) 
  • presentation of regional cuisine
  • presentation of local craft




(Route: Ivanofrankovsk, Zakarpacie, Lvovski)


Local Events on the transhumance route - performances of  dancing and singing groups, regional bands, demonstrations of crafts, clothes;  presentation of regional food and presentation of pastoral customs and rituals:

15 June 2013 Shepherds’ Holiday - Wyrhovina

22 June 2013Shepherd’s Holiday - Rachiv

organizers: Center  for European Integration – public organization, local government and non-governmental organizations




3 August 2013 – Shepherd’s Holiday - Tatranska Lomnica

Performances of  dancing and singing groups, regional bands, demonstrations of crafts, clothes;  presentation of regional food and presentation of pastoral customs and rituals




 (Route: Podkarpacie, Ma??opolska, woj. ??l?skie (Silesia region) – Beskid ??l?ski i ??ywiecki)


11 August 2013 Festival of Oscypek and other cheese during the  European Regional Product Fairs in Zakopane

organizers: TARPIK (Tatra Agency) and local government

Plan of the event:

Festival shows a variety of regions and cultures, and in particular the wealth of regional products, which due to the production process and culture in the natural environment deserve to be called healthy food. During the Fair, both participants and visitors through demonstrations, tastings and meetings have opportunity to explore the taste and nutritional qualities of these products. And on the stage to see and listen to music, dance and singing. Fairs are an important part of conferences devoted to the issues of regional products widely understood in the context of agriculture, through breeding, marketing, sales, and legislative records. During the Fair – there are concerts, culinary demonstrations and competitions. An interesting program encourages visitors and local people to  visit.


24 August 2013 -  Jarmark Pasterski (Shepherds’ fair) – Koniaków

organizers: Foundation „Pasterstwo Transhumancyjne”, local government and non-governmental organizations

Plan of the event:

  • Presentation of the customs associated with pastoralism -  everyday life of shepherds, milking show, making cheese – showing production process
  • Presentation of local craft
  • Presentation of costumes, music, songs and dances of the local community
  • Presentation of regional traditional products (cheese, meat, bakery, honey, jams, homemade preserves and other healthy natural food)
  • presentation of regional cuisine




31 August 2013 – End of shepherding season – Czech Republic

organizers: Koliba, občanské sdru?ení

Plan of the event:

  • End of the season ceremony - settlement of the shepherds, counting sheep, etc. Presentation of the ceremonies connected with the end of summer grazing and
  • Presentation of local craft
  • Presentation of costumes, music, songs and dances of the local community
  • Presentation of regional traditional products


Actions 4. Discussion panels on cultural heritage

In addition to cultural events in selected towns in the path or near the route of transhumance discussion panels about regional heritage will be organized. These will be regional forums in which will take part people involved in promotion and preservation of cultural heritage. The main participants are: local government units, non-governmental organizations, including organizations for local communities, as most strongly involved in the promotion of local culture, entrepreneurs operating in the field of culture (including regional products, folk art), people who perform disappearing jobs and cultural institutions.

The discussion will be concerned on the possibilities of the preservation and promotion of local and regional culture and tradition and on the common cultural heritage of the Carpathians. In the latter case, the representatives of the regions will discuss the possibilities of interregional and transnational co-operation aimed at promoting the common cultural heritage. An important aspect will be to find and resurrect the traditions that are no longer practiced, but still possible to be recovered. A perfect example of such traditions is the transhumance, which is the flagship initiative of the project. Developed positions and opinions will  be then presented at an international forum, which is organized as a summary of the project. The international forum of the representatives of the Carpathian countries will easily establish common priorities and define the most important areas of cooperation. During the time of the project in each country will be organized one discussion panel. Information on all events will be promoted by means of project communication channels.


"Echo of the common history of the Carpathians"  summary event of the project

As a summary of the Transhumance  there will be the event called "Echo  of the common history of the Carpathians." It will be an international forum to share, where representatives from the regions, which are along the planned route - will be invited. These would be - in particular - local governments, non-governmental organizations, representatives of institutions dealing with cultural heritage, as well as local entrepreneurs associated with regional products. The Forum will provide an opportunity to summarize  regional issues undertaken during discussion panels concerning cultural heritage and establish a framework for cooperation in the promotion of the common cultural heritage of the Carpathians with the whole European Union. Cross-sectoral nature of the forum will provide an opportunity to present different points of view, and as a result develop more complementary solutions. Transhumance is a great cohesive element around which all can focus and promote the cultural heritage of the Carpathians – the goal is to create an international, inter-regional and cross-platform cooperation. The Forum will also provide an opportunity to present progress of the transhumance route, present communication tools and  establish  further planning to use them to promote culture of Carpathians. The culmination of the international forum "Echo of the common history of the Carpathians" will  be signification of a common declaration of cultural cooperation between the representatives of the local governments of the participating countries in the project.

Forum "Echo of the common history of the Carpathians" will take place in October 2013 in Zakopane, Poland.


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