Weaving and Folk Costumes

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The field of weaving consists of a vast number of pieces, but also of the knowledge needed by the people who practise this craftTop of Form

. This art was and is mainly reserved to women. The raw materials for this activity are flax and hemp, as well as wool. The latter is spun and then dyed, until being considered ready to be used for weaving. The goat wool (coarser than sheep wool) is spun using a special wheel. Once the raw material is obtained, it must be processed: the wool is spun using a distaff. The thickness and spinning degree depend on its destination. The fibres are used either in their natural state, or dyed. For their dying were (some of them still are) used various plant species, among which we mention: the mint, the alder, the nettle for black; the apricot and the walnut bark, for brown; the willow for dark cherry; the cherry tree and the mulberry tree bark, for light green; the hawthorn root, for dark blue; the hollyhock, for light grey; the onion, for yellow and beige; the lily, for violet; St. John’s wort, for sand colour.

The women have always been preoccupied by the clothing and the woven pieces decorating the house. The first to draw attention to the weaving are the clothes. Worn in public and seen by all, they showcase art and diversity. Every ethnographic area has its own style, the folk costume pieces being recognition marks for the community members, means of estimating their age and social status.

The most common piece of the folk costume is the shirt. Its length varies, sometimes below the waist, sometimes up to the ankles. The upper part of shirts is richly decorated, in the case of women getting to cover almost entirely the part over the shoulders. Women’s headwear were the headkerchiefs or the floss silk veils. This element is strongly related to the customs, since one of the main moments of peasants’ weddings was the covering of the bride’s head, a sign that she had become a women. The interior of the peasants’ houses was truly “clothed”. The woven pieces were present both in the peasants’ and in the boyars’ houses.

The carpets created in Oltenia are one of the most valuable Romanian folk values through their refinement, the ampleness and the quality of the decorative synthesis. The originality of this type of woven pieces in the hierarchy of the national art values consists of the selective integration in the decorative space of motifs and symbols originating in the national and oriental medieval art, structured according to the principles of “Brâncoveanu” art style, thus becoming representative for the Romanian art in general.

Many of the secrets of this craft were lost; many traditions have changed. All the knowledge connected to weaving are preserved by anonymous craftsmen, by every peasant woman who needed to know how to weave before forming a family. And they did not learn from books, but from the other village women. Many of them may have forgotten the meaning of the motifs, but some older peasant women still know, for instance that certain motifs are reserved fot the bridegroom’s shirt.

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