Pallium, mooring eye and cake or ring

During the Festivity of Saint Blaise, but also on other occasions – such as New Year's Day or, usually, the Carnival, Dubrovnik citizens organised numerous chivalrous games and competitions. As early as in the 14th century, the records mention the palium or palij – a bow-and-arrow and cross-bow competition which was initially held in Ploče, at the location of present-day Lazareti, on the occasion of the Festivity of St. Blaise on 3rd February and the Summer Festivity of St. Blaise on 5th July. Apart from the palium, there were two more kinds of equestrian competitions with lances which consisted of galloping towards a ring hung on a rope. The first one, played in the 15th century, and possibly even earlier, was described by Philippus De Diversis in 1440 as the alka, and the other was described in the 17th century by the French travel writer Quiclet as the game of trčati kolač or biočug. In some 16th century documents, the custom of riding at full gallop towards the alka ring was sometimes called trčati palij, and the alkars performed it dressed in masquerade costumes. Quiclet wrote that this competition was held every day except Friday, the day of the Senate sessions, particularly during the last three days of the Carnival. Both competitions were held in front of the Duke's Palace, on the unpaved terrain from the Sponza Palace to the Assumption Cathedral. Young members of the landed gentry and citizens participated in the competitions. Diversis describes the target, the alka, as a silver ring weighing about 110 grams, while Quiclet mentions a (round /?/) iron plate the size of a food plate, through which passed a small tube – the kantula. Both targets were hung on a rope—the riganello—which was mounted above the racing track and stretched between the Duke's Palace and the adjacent building. On it hung a ring – the cerchio, on whose bottom side hung a hook – the ferola, and from it hung the alka, kolač or biočug. All the pieces of the target were jointly called the kvintana, which name recalls an older equestrian competition from Italy, where a wooden puppet resembling a Saracen was used as the target. All the props required for the alka were kept in a special bag – the bursa. At the beginning and end of the track stood one guard – the zdur biočuga. The alkars raced towards the alka three times in a single series. When the first alka was captured, the other two were hung. The prize was a monetary one and winners would parade through the city. The custom of racing towards the alka ring is known in Italy as the giostra con l'anello, in Germany as the Ringenreiten, in France as the jeu de bague, and in Croatia, the Sinjska alka and the Trka na prstenac competitions are held to this day, in Sinj and Barban in Istria respectively.