Transylvanian Arts & Crafts

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.

By Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania & KAMA SYSTEM srl.

Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived - plateFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived - artworks, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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.

Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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).

Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived, blue platesFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived, jugs, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived - plateFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Saschiz blue pottery - a lost tradition now revived, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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It is to be used and enjoyed!

Prince of Wales opems village food processing centre, SaschizFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Wooden Barrel with wooden pipe - pack (2012-09-10)Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Wooden barrel - preparing wood planks, 2012-09-04, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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The tree is cut into lengths and split ...

Wooden barrel - raw plank of wood, 2012-09-03, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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.... suitable lengths are selected ....

Wooden barrel - cutting plank inner shape, 2012-09-02, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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.... cut into shape and then bent in steam to give the correct curve.

Wooden barrel - planing wood planks, 2012-09-05, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Wooden barrel, 2012-09-08, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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The whole process is done by hand, including making the steel hoops, in a farm courtyard with simple hand tools.

Barrel-making is still carried out in the area - Floresti., From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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This cooper is also the village postman, in the village of Floresti, where the previous photos were taken!

Wood Carving tools - on local museum, 2012-09-07, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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.

Wooden implement maker, Saschiz, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Farm implements are made locally too.

Sock-making from local wool, Viscri, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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And clothes are made from wool spun in the village from the local sheep.

Selection of Romanian sheep cheesesFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Local food

The cheeses, smoked meats, vegetables, jams and preserves and bread of the region are famous for their authentic taste and freshness

Traditional cheeses (2013-02-19) by Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPTFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Milking the village flock, Stelica's flock, Viscri, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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.

Milking the village flock, Stelica's flock, Viscri, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Cheese making in the hills, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Urda, the local version of ricotta whey-cheese, requires cooking over a wood fire.

Cheese making in the hills, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Bringing the sheep milk down to the village, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Village milk collection, Viscri, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Making tradional Romanian sheep cheesesFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Selection of Romanian sheep cheesesFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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

Local pig roasted for village festival, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Pigs are slaughtered locally, in a humane fashion, and enjoyed by the whole community.

Making home-made jam for sale, Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania, 2011-08-18, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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.

Prince of Wales with producers, Saschiz, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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HRH The Prince of Wales is an active supporter of local producers.

Traditional Baked Bread 9Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Traditional Baked Bread 2, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Traditional Baked Bread 7, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Traditional Baked Bread 5Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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 .....

Traditional sourdough breadFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Traditional sourdough bread 2Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Mobile bee hives (2010-10-12) by Fundatia ADEPT TransilvaniaFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Beekeeping

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.

Beekeeping in the orchards behind farmhouse, ViscriFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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

Roades beekeeper, Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania, 2010-10-13, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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But most beekeepers use more modern, wooden beehives. This one, in the village of Roades, trusts his bees and never wears gloves.

Roades beekeeper 2, Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania, 2010-10-13, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Bears sometimes come to the village edges and raid the beehives for honey!

Beekeeping in the orchards behind farmhouse, ViscriFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Beekeeping in the orchards behind farmhouse, ViscriFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

The Art Of DAR (2012-10-21)Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Viscri church interiorFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Viscri church interiorFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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

Viscri church interiorFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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

Viscri church interiorFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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.

Viscri blacksmith 2 (2002-01-01) by Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPTFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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. 

Mati the Blacksmith, ViscriFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Viscri blacksmith (2002-01-01) by Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPTFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Viscri blacksmith 2, Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPT, 2002-01-01, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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The Charcoal burner (2006-08-11) by Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPTFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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. 

Charcoal burner preparing, Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPT, 2010-10-12, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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Large heaps of hardwood, too small or crooked for other uses, are heaped, and covered with straw and soil to prevent air from entering .....

Charcoal burner setting fire, Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPT, 2010-10-12, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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..... They are then lit on the inside with a long fiery torch.

Charcoal burner, Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPT, 2010-10-12, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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.

Charcoal burner preparing 2, Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPT, 2010-10-12, From the collection of: Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
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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.

The Charcoal burner (2006-08-11) by Bob Gibbons/Fundatia ADEPTFundatia ADEPT Transilvania

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!

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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