Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/438

This page has been validated.

Sword-dance. Page 241.—This amusement, which Basile refers to in several places, is common to many countries, and of ancient origin. In Naples the people dance it either with naked swords in their hands, or with sticks wreathed round with flowers: hence the dance has the name of 'Mperticata (stick-dance); it is more commonly called Intrezzata. During the Carnival, parties of men of the lower class dance this in masks. The song which accompanies the dance is also called 'Mperticata. The custom prevailed in Spain in ancient times, and is mentioned in Don Quixote. Mr. Liebrecht suggests that, if not derived from the Romans, it may have been introduced into Naples by the Spaniards. In Germany the Waffentanz was also of very ancient origin, and was brought to this country by the Anglo-Saxons. See Strutt's Sports and Pastimes for a description of the Morris Dancers. Until within a few years, it was retained in the annual processions of the civic Guild at Nonvich—a curious relic of our ancient pageantry, which the ruthless spirit of innovation has swept away. The Norwich "Whifflers," or sword-dancers, accompanied by "Snap," (a large figure of a dragon, derived from the story of St. George) preceded the Mayor and Corporation in their procession on Guild-day: the whifflers were dressed in a motley costume, and whiffled or swung a sword about them with inconceivable dexterity. The whifflers are mentioned by Shakespear, and were formerly known in London pageants.


Printed by Richard and John B. Taylor, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street.