Jan 21, 2016

Transylvanian Arts & Crafts 

Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

The traditional Arts & Crafts of the Saxon Villages area of Transylvania are linked to practical uses in daily life. They have unspoilt and genuine  vernacular style.

Saschiz sgraffito pottery
This traditional pottery is made by a technique, sgraffito, widespread around the world but in Transylvania, traditionally limited to the village of Saschiz.

In 'sgraffitto' technique, the pattern is not painted on, but is created by scratching through the outer layer of the ceramic - the layer with the pigment - so revealing the image in the white porcelain beneath.

This sgraffito pottery was made this way for over 300 years in Saschiz, died out over 50 years ago, and has now been revived with the help of the Marcela Botnar Trust (UK).

The traditional Saschiz pottery technique has been revived by Fundatia ADEPT with the help of the Marcela Botnar Trust UK, bringing a sense of optimism to the village as well as employment, income and tourism.

It is to be used and enjoyed!

Wood carving
There is a strong wood-carving tradition on the area. Here the Prince of Wales unveils an oak plaque commemorating his visit to Saschiz in 2009, to open a village food-processing unit.
Barrel making
Barrels are still made in the area, from oak or mulberry wood. The process is carried out by the cooper, from the tree to the completed barrel.

The tree is cut into lengths and split ...

.... suitable lengths are selected ....

.... cut into shape and then bent in steam to give the correct curve.

The whole process is done by hand, including making the steel hoops, in a farm courtyard with simple hand tools.

This cooper is also the village postman, in the village of Floresti, where the previous photos were taken!

Here is an exhibition of old tools, in the village of Biertan.

But the difference is, these same tools are still being used daily in the village next door, Floresti.

Farm implements are made locally too.

And clothes are made from wool spun in the village from the local sheep.

Local food
The cheeses, smoked meats, vegetables, jams and preserves and bread of the region are famous for their authentic taste and freshness
Traditional Cheese
Traditional cheese is made in the hills, and kept in salt water, or in animal skins, or in the bark of pine trees.

Sheep are milked in the hills. Sheep milk is mostly used for traditional cheese-making in the hills, but some is taken down to the village by cart for sale as milk.

Urda, the local version of ricotta whey-cheese, requires cooking over a wood fire.

Another cheese type, 'cas', is made by pressing of the curds under heavy weights. This may be done in a special shepherds' hut in the hills, or in village processing units as illustrated here.

Transylvania offers a wonderful range of sheep and cow milk cheeses.

Pigs are slaughtered locally, in a humane fashion, and enjoyed by the whole community.

Viscri has become a famous centre for jam-making. The jams use traditional recipes, with very little sugar, became Romania's first Slow Food product, and are now being marketed and appreciated widely in Romania.

HRH The Prince of Wales is an active supporter of local producers.

Traditional Bread making
The traditional bread of the area is still baked in wood-fired ovens in the villages, as it has been for centuries.

The burned crust in knocked off the bread, leaving a clean and tasty loaf with a springy soft crust to be presented to family and guests .....

Honey is a product intimately linked to the surrounding wildflower-rich grasslands. Every village has a number of passionate beekeepers. Some hives are kept in trailers so they can follow tree blossoming times and places.

This shows the beginning of a honey-comb within a traditional bell-shaped straw bee hive, still used in some areas.

But most beekeepers use more modern, wooden beehives. This one, in the village of Roades, trusts his bees and never wears gloves.

Bears sometimes come to the village edges and raid the beehives for honey!

Here some visitors to the village, who can hire bees suits locally in the tourist information centre, learn how to remove honey combs from the hives, and other aspects of hive management.

The local traditions of jam and honey production ('bottled biodiversity') and wood carving have been brought together, along with glass blowing and silver-smithing, in the form of a luxury product, The Art of Dar (The Art of Giving). See this short film.

Saxon Wood Painting
The painted wooded panels inside the churches are still in their original state. The authentic, rather naive work is of great cultural value.

The church, and the pews, are in use every Sunday. A living museum!

Dated 1724, this is an authentic wood bench from the Alba Ecclesia fortified church in Viscri.

Here sits the church warden at services, keeping an eye on the congregation!
Young unmarried men sit separately from the unmarried girls. This is a strict evangelic area, since the reformation when all the Transylvanian Catholic churches became Lutheran.

Traditional Blacksmithing
Every village had many horses and carts, and so is dependent on the village blacksmith. Here is the village blacksmith of Viscri, Mati Gabor, at work: he sadly died in 2013, but his son is continuing the tradition. 
Charcoal burning
Charcoal is made in several places in the Saxon Villages area, using a very traditional method. This is a good use for the off-cuts from the harvesting of the local hornbeam and oak trees. 

Large heaps of hardwood, too small or crooked for other uses, are heaped, and covered with straw and soil to prevent air from entering .....

..... They are then lit on the inside with a long fiery torch.

They burn for a week before all the wood is transformed into charcoal. The charcoal burners have to climb over the heap with buckets of earth to stop up any holes, which can be spotted from the escaping smoke. Dangerous work. If the heap collapses, the charcoal burner on top will be killed very quickly by the intense heat.

Here the charcoal burner is shovelling soil to stop up any holes in the covering, to keep it air-tight - if air enters, charcoal is not produced - all that remains is ash, of no value.

here the charcoal burner is on top of his smouldering heap, to check it for holes.

Note his cigarette – you would not think that he would need to smoke, in that atmosphere!

Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania & KAMA SYSTEM srl.
Credits: Story

The people of Târnava Mare, Transylvania have continued to make objects, tools and articles for every day use. Beauty and simplicity feature because form follows function. These items haven’t died out and been revived- they are still alive! You can find barrels made from local wood, rugs and blankets woven to original patterns from local wool, baskets, tools, metal goods and all manner of objects, made to be used and enjoyed by real people!

Discover Târnava Mare | http://www.discovertarnavamare.org

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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