The craziest month of the year on the island of Korcula is certainly February. It is a month when dragons, giant flies and characters from Narnia are freely walking through the streets of town of Blato. Behind all this is a group of young women nicknamed Old Trikop Team, that have now for nine years carefully devised and handmade all their masks, which were then presented at the masked dance party on the eve of a big carnival.

Characters from Narnia, 2015. (private Facebook archive)

Nine years ago, when these ladies started with their hobby, their only wish was to revive an old custom of masking for Carnival that was slowly extinguished in their hometown, and to encourage others to come masked to a big Carnival dance in the hall of the Cultural Center. From 2009 until today they have made and shown nine fascinating original masks including: sheep with shepherdess, flies, Greek statues, goldfishes, Lego city, Charleston moths, characters from Narnia, dragons and this year’s rain forest. These masks have brought them a number of first awards and positive comments.

Dragons, 2016. (private Facebook archive)

Dragons, Narnia, Lego city – everything is handmade

Although the women from the Old Trikop Team are a group of young women that come from different walks of life, they are all bounded together by one mutual love: love for Carnival disguise and the costume design. Each year, at least two months before the carnival, they start with their nocturnal meetings in an empty hall of a former Trikop – a sewing clothes factory, after which they were nicknamed. The local ”Association of knights Kumpanjija’’ has generously ceded them this place, so ladies from Old Trikop Team spend winter evenings elaborating plans for the upcoming Carnival trying to turn ideas into masks – each night until Carnival. The process is always the same: first they work on the idea, and then they start with making costumes.

Although many do not believe them, all their masks are made by hand: they glue, paint, drill and sew – you name it, they do it. However, ladies confess that they lack a professional seamstress, so in the implementation of masks they often improvise trying to find a more efficient solution. Trial and error is their problem solving method that, in the end, brings success.

All materials required to create a mask the Team mostly buys in local stores. Although they keep an eye on the budget, each finished mask costs minimum 300 to 400 Croatian kuna. Thanks to Team’s effort, once completed, their masks always attract attention, no matter if they are seemingly simple like Greek statues wrapped in togas, or complicated like centaurs with front legs made with its own mechanism that make the move when walking. The secret of the effectiveness of seemingly the simplest masks is in attention to details and props, reveals the Old Trikop Team. Therefore, their dragons spit fire, Greek statues support the roof of the acropolis, and a rain forest has clouds that glow in the dark. Except that, they necessarily perform a choreography.

Best anti-stress therapy

Evening meetings in the large hall of the former Trikop factory have become their anti-stress therapy after a hard day, ladies say in jest. Thus, the large hall became a place where many amazing masks were produced, but also a place where many friendships started. In addition to making costumes and friendship, this Team was marked by something else: the organization of entertainment on the occasion of seeing off a pregnant woman. In nine years that they have been gathering, a total of 25 children were born. Therefore, every year at least one of them skips carnival, which is why they cannot say the exact number of Old Trikop Team members:  11-17 would be the closest one.

This year, they showed up on the Carnival under the theme of mostly clear. For the first time they have used natural materials such as tree bark to produce trees. They also painted pasta to turn it into a gray rain, and there were other attempts to cope with the development of clouds. During the process of creation, some of Old Trikop Team members were brainstorming ideas even at night in bed. The reason behind it is that their hometown Blato has a couple of good groups with original masks and there is always the fear that the idea could be duplicated, or worse, could be found out. Therefore, every year the group’s Carnival theme is a top secret.

If you think that this year’s Old Trikop’s Team’s masks surpassed themselves, know that this is something that they have already heard, and all they have to say is there’s always room for improvement. And until new Carnival and new surprises, Trikop Team ladies will think and dream about new costumes thanks to their greatest support, their families, who patiently wait while they are doing costumes from fantasy.