Scything grass and weeds by hand has had two somewhat contradictory developments recently – the traditionally hard work has mostly been replaced by various power mowers yet nevertheless the old, traditional method has seen something of a modern revival in Slovakia, with competitions in hand-scything becoming very popular, even among young people.
The Slovak Agricultural Museum in Nitra, together with the Slovak Association Košecké (SKOS), organised a scything competition on August 19 during the Agrokomplex fair in Nitra. Altogether, 35 hand-scythers participated, including a seven-year-old girl and a 92-year-old man. During the competition the best of the competitors showed that a skilful scyther can mow down 50 square metres of grass in one minute. Norbert Gáborčík of SKOS told the TASR newswire that even children as young as four or five have started taking part in these competitions.
Enthusiasts have even organised a Slovak Scything League (Slovenska kosecká liga) and in 2011 the municipality of Cigeľ, near Prievidza, hosted its first hand-scything event called Horskí kosci (Mountain Scythers) that attracted almost one hundred enthusiasts from all over Slovakia, competing in seven categories. Igor Svitek, who tracks records for Slovenské Rekordy, announced that a new Slovak record was set in Cigeľ when 71 scythers lined up in row to mow a steep meadow near the local golf course, surpassing a record set in 2005 when 25 scythers performed a similar feat in Pohorelá, near Horehronie.
Historical documents indicate that the first hand-scything competition was held in 1830 in Veľká lúka (Big Meadow) in the Gemer area of Slovakia, involving two teams. Subsequently this sporting discipline was pursued in many European countries, especially during the first half of the 20th century, TASR wrote.
One of the first modern-era competitions was held in 1977 when a group of enthusiasts from Brezno organised a competition at a meadow near Branisko. Unfortunately, a televised report on the competition showed a nearby military barracks and the Slovak communist government considered this a provocation, labelled scything competitions as undesirable and suspended the organising of future events. But the scything enthusiasts managed to convince the Socialist Union of Youth as well as the United Agricultural Co-Operative to become involved and scything competitions began again in Horehronie at the start of the 1980s. The most well-known competitions in Slovakia were held in the towns of Pohorelá and Terchová but other localities organised similar events as well.
12. Sep 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská