1. RITUAL OBJECTS: THE FLAG, THE MASK, THE BEAK, THE STAVES

Căluş is a protection, healing, and fertility ritual performed by a hierarchical and closed society of males, called Căluşari [Eliade], [Kligman].

The ritual is carried out at the Rusalii-Orthodox Pentecost, and lasted from seven to nine days. Until eighteen century the ritual was performed in villages on the territory of present-day Romania and Moldova. Today, the ritual in its original form is performed in villages in the Southern part of Romania [Giurchescu].

The ritual is comprised of:
actions - i.e. dancing, falling in trance, leaping over a person, breaking a pot, killing a fowl,
texts- i.e. verbal utterances, text of the oath,
prohibitions- i. e. not to touch or be tucked by women, not to separate from the group, not to divulge the ‘secret’ of Căluş,
objects - i.e. flag, totem, mask, staves, wooden phallus; [Gremais], [Giurchescu].

The Căluş ritual starts by rising the flag and ends by the burial of the flag. Top hierarchical member of Căluşari is Mutul the Mute who always wears a wooden mask and holds Ciocul Căluşului an object made of wood, resembling the beak and neck of a bird in the form of a hook/sickle. Ciocul is the Romanian word for beak. Each căluşar is holding a staff. Paraphrasing Claude Lévi-Strauss, the beak, the flag, the mask and the staves are what matter today. Only they carry the evidence that throughout the centuries that something really happened among căluşari .

The Căluşari flag is:
an object of worship - i.e. the oath is taken on the flag, the ritual starts by rising the flag and ends by the burial of the flag and, sacred i.e. it must never touch the ground or be touched by a woman, or its ritual power will be lost [Giurchescu], [Herseni].

In the present example, the flag design embodies all key elements of the ritual: the Mute mutul, the Chieff vătaful, the Flag Bearer arătătorul, căluşari, the staves, and the beak, ciocul căluşului.