To recognize its unicity and cultural significance and to preserve the traditional production techniques, the craft of weaving traditional carpets, one of the oldest Romanian artistic crafts, was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO), on December 1, 2016, according to https://ich.unesco.org.
This tradition is unfortunately almost estinguished and only few women continue to weave rugs, so it is in our duty to protect it and transfer it to the next generation.
This craft, spread throughout the territory of Romania, as well as that of the Republic of Moldova, has an important role in social communication, affirmation and promotion of cultural identity. Under various names and rich in designs and colours, these beautiful carpets were traditonally used to cover the walls, for esthetic and warming role, the thinner ones to cover the beds and benches, and lately they started to be used to cover the floors, in the guests’ rooms mainly.
Pictures taken in an artisan workshop from Bechet, South Romania.
“In the past, wall carpets produced by weavers in communities of Romania and the Republic of Moldova were used not only as decorative features and sources of insulation but also as part of a bride’s dowry. A variety of techniques were needed to produce the pieces with impressive motifs. Certain patterns also indicated where the weaver was from. The carpets had additional roles in community practices, such as at funerals where they symbolized a passage for the soul to the hereafter. They were also displayed at international exhibitions as markers of national identity. These days, wall carpets are mainly appreciated as works of art for public and private spaces and exhibited at city festivals and ceremonies. Techniques have changed from vertical or horizontal looms practised in some parts, to tight picking (thread by thread) and other forms with weavers now able to work from home. In villages, girls learn the art form from their mother or grandmother, while in cities craft centers, associations and colleges, as well as museums provide classes. Viewed as an expression of creativity and identity marker, wall carpet craftsmanship is also considered as a tool to unite groups in society of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.” the UNESCO official website said.
The craft of weaving carpets is practiced both within the peasant household and in specialized workshops organized in the Orthodox nunneries (Agapia and Tismana among the most famous) and in specialized family associations. The traditional production techniques are very well represented in households from Maramureş county, the north and center of the historical province of Moldova, but also in Prahova and Buzău counties, as well as in Oltenia, well known for the magnificent floral Oltenian kilims.
In a very comprehensive article on www.agerpres.ro , we learn more about the rich motives nd symbols found on the Romanian carpets. “The originality and artistic value of the Romanian and Moldavian carpets is due to the skills and ingenuity of the generations of women who worked on them, integrating motifs and symbols of wide European and extra-European circulation into the decorative compositions: geometric (the oldest), vegetal, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, the river, the sky, the earth, the sun, the tree of life, etc., the stylization and abstraction reaching a high degree of sophistication.”
The motifs are arranged in open or closed border compositions, aiming to obtain the effect of symmetry, repetition and chromatic rhythm. The vegetable-floral motifs (clover, basil, roses, peonies, waterlilies, tulips, daffodils), stylized according to regional techniques, evoke the familiar universe of the Romanian village. Among the zoomorphic motifs, stylized, the horse and the rider make up one of the most frequent motifs on the 19th century Maramures, Moldavian and Oltenian carpets. The birds complete the ornamental repertoire of the Romanian rugs, being presences with symbolic value, integrated into large compositions. The human silhouette - female and male or only their physiognomy - are stylized to the point of abstraction, bringing to attention the artistic canons of the Paleolithic and Neolithic. The carpets from Moldova, Muntenia, Transylvania and Oltenia offer the most expressive anthropomorphic representations, according to www.patrimoniu.ro .
Pictures from Oltenia museum, the ethnography section
If you ever visit Craiova, the biggest city from South Romania and an important cultural and historical town, take some time for Oltenia museum, the ethnography section. You will be amazed by the large collection of old Romanian carpets alongside other folk Romanian items. The representation of different rituals such as the wedding, where the carpets took a very important role, is also fascinated to study.
The Oltenian carpet is considered the most valuable type of Romanian bark. It is characterized by the predominance of floral, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic decorative elements. Regarding the decorative composition, the border bordering the central field is specific, often meeting even two or three borders. Also, the color of the carpets from Oltenia is generally warm, restful, with brown, cherry, pastel green, ultramarine blue colors being used as a background.
The UNESCO recognition give us even more responsibility to protect this beautiful handcraftship and to even more value these amazing carpets, true pieces of art.