The most traditional villages in Romania are in Maramures. Come and see for yourself or get us to show you around our little world between the Mara and Isa valleys.
The northwestern Romanian region of Maramures is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their Dacian ancestors.
Maramures villages are distinguished by their unique wooden churches with tall spires and shingled roofs. Woodlands still account for more than four-fifths of the land surface of Maramures. It is understandable, therefore, that wood has long been – and continues to be – the medium of expression for the region’s artisans. Elaborate woodcarvings decorate the eaves, entryways and windows of houses. The local handiwork is also seen in the hand-woven carpets and intricate embroidery that adorns folk dresses still worn by the locals.
The village of Sarbi on the Cosau river lies like an open air museum with impressive carved Maramures wooden gates, traditional wooden houses and their annexes, wooden churches and numerous water based installations, whirlpools, watermills, an alcohol distillery. In this picture you can see a wooden watermill where village women do their laundry, and the miller grinds corn, thrashes oats and distills plum brandy.
Wearing a typical Maramures hat the miller Gheorghe Opris invites us for to a glass of “Horinca” or plum brandy and tells us about his sons and his passion of making little ladders out of plum wood and inserting them, like model ships, into bottles of plum brandy.
The first of the tourist attraction of Sacel is the center of unenamelled red ceramics polished with stones, based on techniques from the Neolithic Age, survived in this Maramures village. Thus, the technique and the aesthetics of this type of ceramics undoubtedly prove that it had been used by the Dacians 2000 years ago, and that it was burnt in a Roman oven.
The pottery centre is located in the household of late Tanase Cocean. The procedure and the technique were transmitted from generations and today his adopted son and his nephew practice this millenary craft. Just like any special thing, the red ceramics was got from a special kind of clay manually dug from a single place 10 metres deep under the ground. Then the clay is taken to a workshop and transformed with different tools. In the picture the 300 years-old Roman oven used by 8 generations of potters.
The ornaments are simple: they are painted with a special paint got from a special type of rock as well. The bowls get dry and then they are polished using an original procedure in order to be burnt in the oven for 24 hours, using spruce wood (dried for 2 or 3 years). This whole activity impresses through its simplicity and antiquity of the technique. The ceramic of Sacel is famous in the country being the only place that produces this type of ceramic to this day.
Our second stop in Sacel was at the house (formerly a mill) of Vasile Susca, the folk artist who participated with his creations at festivals and exhibitions in Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Finland, USA. . His masks are inspired by the folk tradition of Maramures celebration of the winter holidays when the village young men disguise in animal skins grotesque masks as characters in the religious drama of Viflaim. His talent and joy of masks making along with the secrets of his art were passed to his sons Bogdan, age 13, and Vasile, age 9 who are learning the craft beautifully. Actually we bought two masks both made by his sons and enjoyed their company and enthusiasm in speaking about this wonderful art.
The village of Botiza is famous for its wool carpets died with natural colors from skins of onions, plants, etc. In almost every household can be found a loom and most peasant women in the village are weavers and artists that keep the tradition of natural dyes still running. In the picture you can see a wooden hand loom and rug from Casa Berbecaru, a museum (the old house displaying furniture and objects of a typical traditional Botiza household) and also a guest house(the new house) that is located in the center of the village.