Ancient crafts in Harghita
Traditional crafts, inherited from our ancestors, are preserved or resurrected in more and more Harghita families who want to pass on the tradition of pottery, wood sculpture, fabrics, weaving - wicker or corn leaf sheath.
In Harghita, many households preserve their authenticity. Traditional gates, carved from wood, with decorative elements inherited from the past, greet you in every locality.
Among the floral motifs – often, the odd number of the house is represented on the gate by as many flowers or carved fruits – we could find birds, the sun and the moon (almost omnipresent), and some messages. The beam of the gate engraves the year of construction and the name of the host.
The Cloth Mill
Using the power of water, and the skillful change of the Homorodul-Mic and Vârghiş riverbeds, the inhabitants from the upper part of Vlăhiţa built almost 20 cloth mills.
The milling served for felting, the preparation of woolen fabrics, which was an important moment in making the Szekler clothes of baize, the traditional men's pants.
Nowadays, a ruined mill, but in a relatively complete state could be found at Lueta mine. With the help of a mini-cloth mill, we can see how it worked.
Pottery, wood and tinder fungus crafting - Corund
Corund village is a true pottery center, renowned for its clay objects painted in blue, red or green, with an art that has long surpassed the country's borders.
The raw material for pottery, the good quality clay, is extracted from the Săcădat creek, which flows on the western side of the village.
After the clay was well kneaded with some water and cleaned of impurities, is cut in stripes and molded on the pottery wheel, until it has the desired shape. A few days later, the object is put in the oven.
The traditional potters in Corund paint the objects with stylized floral and zoomorphic designs. The pottery can be white, brown, blue (cobalt) or multicolored.
At the tinder fungus workshop
Tinder fungus was a craft once practiced by more than 70 families in Corund, but today only 6 families still do it.
The fungus is cleared from bark and imperfections; the bark is hard and useless, and the cleaning is done with a tool that resembles a sickle. The fungus is then cut into "slices"; here comes the experience - the artisan knows how to cut it according to its growth, indicated by its color.
The slice must be stretched well. The artisan hammers it a bit, and then he stretches it with his hands.
With the help of models and ironing, the fungus will be turned into objects - not only practical, but also beautiful.
Harghita County is the easternmost area of painted furniture, spread across Europe.
In many houses, there is a quoin and a cupboard with flower motifs, the chest with tulips, a bed with painted headboard, a table, a bench with crested back, and folk chairs. Even today, the artisans in the Homoroade valley make painted furniture.
Here and there, you could find carved barns made of beech, as well as dowry chests. The highest clustering of such buildings are in Şiclod, Căpâlniţa, Casin and Vrabia areas, as these villages once were barn-making centers. The main features of the dowry chests are their ornaments in straight lines.
Weaving, spinning, sewing, bone-lacing
Weaving and spinning represent to this day one of the most widespread domestic occupations. The inhabitants of Sândominic, Frumoasa, Corbu, on the Trotuş Valley, make those thick, warm, soft blankets - called cergi.
The carpet, the blanket, the coverture, the tapestry, made of spun and painted, adorned by threading, are known and prevalent on both sides of the Harghita massif.
Extremely rich embroidery on the Mures Valley, besides representing the beauty of the Romanian local folk costumes, are also found on towels, napkins, ornamental cushions so sought after.
Braided corn leaf sheaths
In the past, corn leaf sheaths were used extensively in making mats, mattresses, bedspreads, baskets of different types, sizes and uses, purses, boxes.
After harvesting, the corn is extracted and the proper leaf sheaths, the ones near the kernels, are separated, dried in the sun and tied. The bundles thus formed are hung in a dry, ventilated place, to avoid the appearance of mildew. Before processing, the leafs are moistened.
All objects are worked on a wooden frame, which has been drawn and fixed on a mold. The art of twisting starts from one nail, continues to another, and so on, until a "fabric" of the desired shape appears. Once it has dried on the frame, the nails are pulled out and the object is removed from the mold.
The most famous desert is "Kürtöskalács", which was named after the stove’s chimney, as the Szeklers call it "Kürtőcső". Thus, "Kürtöskalács" is the size of a firewood, the cake even having the same diameter. The cake is a leavened dough, rotated around a cylindrical wood and rolled into sugar. During baking, the sugar melts and turns into caramel, giving brilliance to the cake.
Text and photo source