Ördög útja, Drumul dracului (L*) – Csángó

*a Living dance is a 1st Generation dance that is still performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation). For more information, click here and here.


Ördög útja, (Hungarian), and Drumul dracului (Romanian) both translate similarly as “Devil’s (or Hell’s) path (or way)”. The title refers both to an archaic melody, and a (posssibly) equally archaic dance. Both Hungarians and Romanians attribute the melody and dance to the Hungarian Csángó people, who live in what was formerly Hungary. Since the end of WWI, the Csángó’s ancestral land lies within the borders of Romania.

Meaning of Ördög

Text By Ellen Lloyd from AncientPages.com

Demons are mentioned in myths, legends, folklore and various religions worldwide. Known under a variety of names, demons and other diabolical creatures represent the dark and evil forces. They are often shapeshifters and it’s widely believed they have tormented humanity throughout history.

According to old Hungarian beliefs, a magical tree of life connects the three levels of the world. Various beings reside in these different realms. Sky spirits live in the heavenly sphere, ordinary people have their homes in the middle earth and the lower world, below the ground is inhabited by Chthonic spirits.

The Hungarian concept of a world tree reminds of Norse myths and legends that give us elaborate descriptions of the Nine Worlds, which are located in roots and branches of Yggdrasil, a gigantic Universal World Tree.

In Hungarian mythology, Ördög is a shapeshifting demon who controls the evil and dark forces in the world. Looking through the eyes of a Christian, one can say Ördög is the personification of the Devil. The name Ördög translates as “devil” in Hungarian.

Ördög is an evil creature that resides in a horrible and frightening underground world where he collects human souls that nourish him. His realm is similar to the Christian version of hell where sinners are sent.

Once a long time ago, Ördög worked together with God creating the world and humans, but his wicked nature put an end to this heavenly co-operation. Along with rebelling angels, who were also treated as demons, Ördög was forced to take permanent residence in the realm of death, a fiery inferno. Reading his story, one sees striking similarities to the fate of the Watchers, the fallen angels mentioned in the Book of Enoch who were punished by God and cast out of heaven.

Ördög has a double nature and he is not always evil. He can be very polite, gracious and if and when it suits him, even bestow fertility and treasure.

According to the country’s tradition and conception, Hungarian people have always devoured the devil’s tales, reshaped them and passed them from word to word. The devil appears in many folk tales and some of these stories come with a powerful message or life-lesson.

Ördög útja, Drumul dracului – the melody

The melody dates back to the Middle Ages, and is simple enough that it can be played on a handmade 6-hole flute (sültü). Nowadays, it’s played by just about any instrument considered Hungarian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjQmcTiRgvY Fluier, drum, guitar?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5oLmeRk_yc Jew’s harp. Dance rhythm starts at 0:30
Citerán https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SCqmB99nzI
‘Modern” Hungarian combo, Cimbalom lead. Long intro. Ördög útja comes in at 1:43 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTXzXGeCqBc
More modern instrumentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4bgGkdsBaA
A live recording. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iosBxnT1GM8
Bagpipes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj5-IqwA3HA

Ördög útja – the dance

Currently very popular among young people in Hungary and the rest of Europe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQrRUCGMSJU Location unknown, but Hungarian captions
Szeged, Hungary, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKFHr0PM5Vw
Nagykároly (Carei, Romania) 2006 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSwwSvp2FVs
Hungarian: Nagykároly, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈnɒckaːroj]; Carei (Romanian pronunciation: [kaˈrej];German: Grosskarol/Großkarl, Yiddish: קראלי, pronounced [krʊlə]) is a city in Satu Mare County, northwestern Romania, near the border with Hungary.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl6PGGibPik Location unknown, but Hungarian caption says “Moldavian dance hall”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RPUIWMjq8I 2016, Tata Castle, Esztergom County, Hungary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zvYk1zn634 2012. Őrmező district of Budapest.
Caption: Moldavian dance outdoors at the Danubius fountain. (Budapest) July 18, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WWkZbb682c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn-IsJtPB6M Budapest, Hungary, 2014.
The dance is popular in the pan-European Early Music movement. https://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=VkXu5m5yF Trakula, May 15, 2010, Riga, Latvia.
Starts with Bulgaros; Öodög Utjá comes in at 1:10. Monteriggioni, Italy, 2017. Band is Bordó Sárkány. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnCyPHFABqs

Drumul Dracului –“Hell’s Way”

Same music and dance. The Romanian name seems more poplar outside of Hungary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO2Z1w0t3hg Arcus group at Vianden Castle, Luxembourg, August 2007
Heavy, bone-rattling drumming! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXdZO2gc_uw
A Soviet-dominated era recording – very Romanian! Perhaps an attempt to cover it’s Csángó origin? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AwK_kPtFDI
Caption: “Hungarian dance Devil’s Way, Devil’s Road, Republic of Moldova, 2015.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_RbB5zAZMc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APhb7dXGiBg Bay View, N.W. Washington State. 2011
An Italian location. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd8Zu6btt9g
A Spanish-language location. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYb7WBABm7U
Tucson, AZ, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq-08DNwXpU
Another version from Tucson AZ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu-8p-MJiTg
A Slavic-speaking country, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew4Nt3LbOSk
Poland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNopKjHtajU
Italian performing group. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=029xjH__g5I
Madrid, Spain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWAr6-t4fnU


John Uhlemann wrote: The Moldvai Csángó dances are so popular in Budapest among the late-teens/early 20’s crowd that there is a special dance night set aside, with live music, that has nothing but dances from the Moldvai Csángó region. Here is a dance we do in St. Louis (done here at the Moldvai Csángó Táncház): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73bLg1SF2U4 . Here is another, with the band I saw myself in this venue a few years ago (Steve Kotansky teaches this): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZbOfUzSlI0 . [Note: neither of these dances are Ördög útja/Drumul dracului, but rather more dances of the Csángó – Don]

John Uhlemann also wrote: Moldvai Csángó dances are poorly represented in the US. A few groups do Ördög Utja/Drumul Dracului, but, very few others. As your post shows, this stuff is popular all over, wherever recreational folk dancing exists, and among young people. I was a bit dismayed that the American recordings veered toward the unidiomatic Romanian State Ensemble style. Of great amusement is the number of performances by medieval recreator groups, you presented. This stuff is big in several European countries, where muscled young men in leather tunics beat large drums and play bagpipes. Latvia has several such groups. Even the US has the Society for Creative Anachronism which is more toned down, and less prone to a nationalistic fringe.

Still, there is time for more of these dances to be taught here. Dances like the Bulgaros you showed, Nyelu (like our group in St. Louis does), and others, have plenty of good music available. When was the last time you visited an American Recreational folk dance group with 50+ young people like you have in some of your Hungarian videos?

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: